Chair of International Relations


The discipline of International Relations deals with interactions among sovereign states, non-state actors, international institutions, and individuals across state borders. Key themes include globalization processes, global power dynamics, as well as conditions for cooperation and conflict. With a focus on understanding the complexities of global order, International Relations provides insights into the dynamics shaping our interconnected world.

The Chair of International Relations at Zeppelin University is situated at the intersection of international and comparative political sciences. Challenges posed by the autocratization of political systems, processes, and discourses, especially in established democracies and the rise of powerful autocratic regimes such as China, Russia, or Saudi Arabia, have gained significant importance in the last decade. Research and teaching at the chair address this central question of power concentration and legitimate exercise of power, along with the consequences for international politics and institutions.

The following focal points are offered at the chair:

  • International Dimension of Democracy and Autocracy
  • International Organizations
  • Regional Cooperation in the Global South
  • International Sanction Politics


The chair offers both introductory sessions on the topic of International Relations as well as advanced seminars. Introductory seminars include teaching of central theoretical concepts, the development of research on International Relations, as well as the empirical analysis of different types of international cooperation, key state and non-state actors, and appropriate research methods.

Advanced seminars delve into the areas of international organizations as central arenas of international cooperation, the role of democracy and autocracy in international politics, and current geopolitical challenges and transformations of multilateral cooperation

All seminars emphasize an understanding of qualitative and quantitative methods and engagement with regions of the Global South.

As part of its research focus, the chair also provides supervision for thesis projects. Office hours (Wednesdays 4-6 pm, online) can be booked here.

Research interests

Current projects

Autocracies as Norm Entrepreneurs

This project in collaboration with Daniëlle Flonk (Hitotsubashi University, Japan) explores the role of autocracies as international norm entrepreneurs. We investigate how autocracies seek to influence discourses within international organizations to gain more legitimacy for autocratic practices and undermine liberal values. The focus is particularly on two policy areas: the regulation of the internet as a new dynamic policy field and the international human rights regime, with a special emphasis on minority protection rights.

More information on the project can be found here

Autocracies as International Lawmakers

This project, supported by the UiO Democracy Fund in collaboration with Nina Reiners (University of Oslo), is situated at the intersection of international relations and international law. Starting from the claim that we are wittnessing the development of "authoritarian international law" by prominent international legal scholars, the joint research examines how autocracies act as lawmakers in the United Nations (UN) Legal Committee based on the collection of data on sponsored resolutions, speeches, and voting behavior.

Democratic Backsliding and its Consequences for Multilateral Organizations

This research project conducted in collaboration with Thomas Sommerer (Potsdam University) focuses on the international behavior of states experiencing democratic backsliding. These states face a double dilemma: they are often dependent on membership in multilateral organizations such as the EU or WTO and cannot leave these organizations without material consequences. At the same time, they fear the negative effects of sanctions by these organizations in response to their democratic setbacks. The project explores how backsliding states like Hungary and Poland attempt to resolve these conflicts of interest in various policy areas (human rights, climate, migration).

Beendete Projekte

The Decline and Death of International Organizations

More information on the project can be found here



Rigano, Selma
Rigano, Selma
Academic Administrative Support
Phone:+ 49 7541 6009-1203
Room:FAB | 1.31
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