Research - Prof. Dr. Lisbeth Zimmermann

Below you will find an overview of our current research interests and current and completed projects. Information on completed research can additionally be found in our publication list.

Current Projects and Research Interests:

Open or closed international organizations? Conditions for policy change as reaction to contestation by affected groups (DFG research grant)

International organizations are centrally involved in the development, interpretation and monitoring of international rules. Researchers used to explain international organizations' inefficiencies either with principal-agent constellations or with the increasing bureaucratization of such organizations.

This analysis appears outdated today. A global trend towards New Public Management, i.e. towards flexibilization, more competition between international organizations and short term and consultant contracts has left its marks. The project explores to what extent transnational professional networks contribute to an increasing openness and informalization of international organizations. Further, the project examines under which conditions international organizations change their policies in reaction to contestation by affected groups that are supposed to be protected by the norms and rule promulgated by international organizations. Empirically, the project examines the organizations WHO, ILO, UNODC and UNICEF in the areas of child labor, drug consumption, female genital mutilation/cutting and human trafficking.

Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Lisbeth Zimmermann

Researchers: Dr. Nele KortendiekLily Young

Duration: 2019 - 2023

FARRIO – The Effects of Far-right Challenges on International Organizations

The project focuses on the strengthening of the far-right in international politics. FARRIO explores the effects of transnational activities of the far-right on the European Union, the United Nations and their sub-organizations in different policy fields.

Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Lisbeth Zimmermann

Researchers: Dr. Alexandros Tokhi

Duration: 2022-2027

Project in the context of TraCe: Regional Research Center Transformations of Political Violence

The field of peaceful conflict settlement has undergone significant internationalization and institutionalization within the last 25 years. Peacekeeping missions are equipped with increasingly comprehensive mandates and require more troop support. So-called peacebuilding activities constitute a large share of international organizations' and national development organizations' portfolios. Further, a multitude of novel institutions is tested – ranging from the International Criminal Court to hybrid investigation commissions in post-war countries.

At the same time, complex conflicts such as in Iraq, in Syria or in Afghanistan have evoked a certain intervention fatigue in many countries. The former goal of sustainable peace making through the establishment of democratic institutions is being replaced by a new interest in local solutions, such as indigenous jurisdiction as well as more ownership by governments in conflict regions. This research project on international institutions and transformations of political violence focuses on the implementation and effects of the dilemma of increasing internationalization paralleled by the search for local solutions.

PI: Prof. Dr. Lisbeth Zimmermann in the context of TraCe

Staff: Lina Schneider

Duration: 2022-2026
For further information

Specialization in Multilateral Diplomacy

How states act in multilateral decision-making bodies in international organizations is also changing. In many policy fields, we are observing a trend towards specialization: Rather than dispatching career diplomats, states now send experts from specialized ministries as their representatives to international negotiations. In existing IR scholarship, this is often described as an efficient, depoliticizing strategy. However, this specialization seems to have unintended side effects which are investigated in a second project.

Currently in preparation

Completed projects

Norm Disputes: Contestation and Norm Robustness (DFG Research Grant)

The increasing contestation of norms and regimes of the multilateral world order lies at the heart of this research project. On the one hand, we observe the questioning of many international norms and regimes that were long considered sacrosanct – also by states that played a decisive role in their creation. Current examples are the international ban on torture, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or the Framework Convention on Climate Change.

On the other hand, power shifts are taking place in the international system. As a consequence, the dominance of the "liberal" consensus on values, supported by a Western coalition in the international system since the 1990s, appears to crumble. Moreover, "non-Western" states and regions are taking on increasingly important roles in the international system. Does this lead to a decline in existing international norms – or to a renewed strengthening? To what extent are the meanings of international rules localized and changed in different contexts, for instance the international responsibility to protect in China or Brazil? When do such localizations have repercussions on a global consensus on existing international standards and regimes?

PIs: Prof. Dr. Nicole DeitelhoffProf. Dr. Lisbeth Zimmermann

Researchers: Dr. Max Lesch, Antonio Arcudi

Duration: 2015-2018


Prof. Dr. Lisbeth Zimmermann

Prosessorship for International Institutions and Peace Processes

Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Faculty Social Sciences
Institute for Political Science
Theodor-W.-Adorno-Platz 6
60323 Frankfurt am Main

PEG-Building - Room 3.G 139
Postbox 28
Phone: +49 (69) 798-36615

Administration Office

Melina Bräutigam
Theodor-W.-Adorno-Platz 6
60323 Frankfurt am Main
PEG-Building - Room 2.G 143
Tel. +49 (69) 798-36643

Office hours

Consultation hours with Prof. Dr. Zimmermann take place on Tuesday from 10 am - 12 pm.

Please contact Melina Bräutigam (