Being part of the United Nations University, the work of UNU-CRIS has been guided by the UNU Strategic Plan 2009-2012, as adopted by the UNU Council. Within that framework, the Council in its 56th Session in November-December 2009, adopted the UNU-CRIS academic programme and budget for the biennium 2009-2010.
In 2009, following the UNU-CRIS Scientific Advisory Committee, the portfolio of UNU-CRIS activities and projects have been organised into four research clusters:
1: Comparative Regional Integration
2: Monitoring Regional Integration
3: Regional Peace and Security
4: Socio-Economic Dimensions of Regional Integration
For each of these themes, activities are deployed that stress the overall UNU-CRIS perspective, which is: the study of the relations between micro- and macro-regions and the study of the interlinkages between the different levels of integration.
One of the highlights of 2009 is that UNU-CRIS became coordinator of a large FP 7 project entitled Changing Multilateralism. The EU as a Global-Regional Actor in Security and Peace (EU-GRASP). This two-million EUR budget project involves five European research institutes (UNU-CRIS, KULeuven, Forum for the Problems of Peace and War, University of Warwick and University of Gothenburg) and four institutes from South-Africa, Israel, Canada and China.
Another new project – in collaboration with the College of Europe – that started in 2009 is the Jean Monnet Project on Comparing the EU with Other Regional Organisations, funded by the Jean Monnet programme of the European Commission.
These new externally-funded projects, together with the Edulink-funded capacity development programme NETRIS – that was also launched in 2009 - demonstrate the growing importance of UNU-CRIS as research institute able to attract European money.
But meanwhile, UNU-CRIS continues to expand its collaborations outside Europe as well. In this regard, the signing of a MoU between UNU-CRIS and Tsinghua University in Beijing on 23 November 2009, deserves to be highlighted. With this MoU, the foundations are built for the creation of a UNU-CRIS twinning institute in China.
2009 was also the year of a detailed self-assessment and external evaluation of the first seven years of UNU-CRIS (document attached). The results of these evaluations provided valuable input for our permanent aim to better organise our research activities and maximise our output. But the report of the international expert panel was also a token of appreciation of the work done by all UNU-CRIS staff members.
As noted by the experts: UNU-CRIS does a good job, its work is useful and relevant, the quality of its work is good and the general appreciation is positive.
Luk Van Langenhove