Professor, International Relations/Political Science
Curt Gasteyger Chair in International Security and Conflict Studies
Phone: +41 22 908 58 07
Director of Policy Research
Steering Committee, Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding
PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Thomas Biersteker is Gasteyger Professor of International Security and Director of Policy Research at the Graduate Institute, Geneva. He previously directed the Graduate Institute's Programme for the Study of International Governance, the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University and has also taught at Yale University and the University of Southern California. He is the author/editor of ten books, including State Sovereignty as Social Construct (1996), The Emergence of Private Authority in Global Governance (2002), and Targeted Sanctions: The Impacts and Effectiveness of United Nations Action (2016). His current research focuses on targeted sanctions, transnational policy networks in global security governance, and the dialectics of world orders. He was the principal developer of SanctionsApp, a tool for mobile devices created in 2013 to increase access to information about targeted sanctions at the UN. He received his PhD and MS from MIT and his BA from the University of Chicago.
United Nations Reform and Effectiveness
This three year Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) funded project seeks to improve our understanding of the nature and consequences of the United Nations’ varying abilities to reform in order to contribute to enhancing its effectiveness. It systematically maps reform within six UN agencies across six dimensions of institutional design over time, and examines whether there is an observable relationship between different types of international organisation reform and the organisation’s effectiveness.
International Relations Studies and Education
Although many factors influence contemporary international relations, there are good reasons to assume that international relations pedagogy plays an important role in shaping different worldviews and foundational orientations. The purpose of this two year SNSF project is to examine the international relations education curricula in three countries: Russia, Canada and neutral Switzerland, which recently played an instrumental role in mediating the conflict between Russia and the West over Ukraine while it chaired the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 2014.
UN Targeted Sanctions
Biersteker co-directed the Targeted Sanctions Consortium (2009-2016), a group of more than fifty scholars and policy practitioners worldwide working on UN targeted sanctions. They produced two databases (one qualitative, one quantitative) on all 22 UN targeted sanctions regimes, two policy manuals describing findings from the research, as well as SanctionsApp.
Transnational Policy Networks
Non-state actors, trans-governmental networks, and multi-stakeholder initiatives are playing an increasingly important role in the governance of emerging global issues. This research project explores the theoretical background of these different analytical constructs and synthesizes them with illustrations of transnational policy networks in four contemporary security areas: targeted sanctions, small arms, private military companies, and Internet governance.
Dialectics of World Orders
This multi-year, multi-national co-authored book project inspired by the late Hayward Alker involves two Pakistani scholars, Tahir Amin and Ijaz Gilani (both in Islamabad), and one Japanese scholar, Takashi Inoguchi (Tokyo). The book explores the co-existence and mutual interpenetration of different conceptions of world order emanating from different parts of the world and in different issue domains, including global security, economy, community and ecology.