News from the Institute of International Affairs and the Centre for Small States Studies, Iceland

Small state summer school for the thirteenth year in a row


The Centre for Small State Studies at the University of Iceland is hosting an intensive summer school focused on small states and European integration from June 22 to July 4. This is the thirteenth year in a row in which the summer school is held. Students from six universities in Europe participate in the school and the teaching is carried out by internationally renowned academics in the field. The summer school is part of a larger Erasmus+ strategic partnership project. The University of Iceland is the lead partner, with five other universities participating in the project: The University of Copenhagen, Vilnius University, Tallinn University of Technology, University of St. Andrews and the University of Malta.

The summer school is organized around four interlinked pillars each identifying a specific set of challenges and opportunities for small states:

Pillar 1: The role of small states in European integration
Pillar 2: Good governance, innovation and entrepreneurship in small states
Pillar 3: Foreign policy and security challenges of small states
Pillar 4: Promoting sustainable development in small states

The six higher education institutions are developing close cooperation in the field of small state studies. The grant is used to organize summer schools, seminars, student mobility and to develop cooperation with regard to teaching.


Hofdi Reykjavik Peace Centre

The Institute of International Affairs (IIA) at the University of Iceland has teamed up with the City of Reykjavík to develop its capacity to contribute to the international peace dialogue. For this purpose the Hofdi Reykjavík Peace Centre will be established in October 2015.

The Hofdi Reykjavik Peace Centre will have a threefold role, it will:

  • Build on existing and new research to support the City of Reykjavik in developing and implementing a holistic Peace Policy throughout the city’s administration and infrastructure.
  • Develop new ways to reach out to people, institutions and organizations through innovative educational activities at all educational levels as well as by hosting and promoting peace related events and conferences.
  • Finally, it will be an innovative and pioneering peace research Centre dealing with untested or novel areas of research such as the role of small states, small societies, small entities and cities in peace building; LGBTI rights and peace building and gender in peace building where Iceland already has substantial academic and practical know-how through research and participation in international projects in conflict zones.

The Hofdi Reykjavik Peace Centre will aspire to bring together knowledge and experiences from different individuals, various academic schools of thought, cities, municipalities, and international organizations as well as from civil society, to find new ways to work towards peace and for non-violence.

As a part of the Centre’s preparatory work, the Centre in collaboration with the Nordic House in Iceland and the City of Reykjavík, hosted an open meeting on 11 June, where politicians, Peace NGO representatives, the police, academics as well as the public were encouraged to contribute to the Centre’s development by sharing how they foresee the City’s and the Centre’s role in peace building, both nationally and internationally. Panelists at the meeting included the President of the Icelandic Parliament Mr. Einar K. Gudfinnsson, Bright Party MP Mr. Ottarr Proppe and Reykjavík Chief of Police Ms. Sigridur Bjork Guðjonsdottir.

Trans Arctic Agenda conference in October

This October the Centre for Arctic Policy Studies (CAPS) at the University of Iceland, which is run under the auspices of the Institute of International Affairs (IIA), will host its Trans Arctic Agenda conference for the third year running. This year the conference will be co-organized with the Northern Research Forum, in cooperation with the Global Arctic Project. The Trans Arctic Agenda (TAA) is an annual high-level seminar that takes an inclusive approach to Arctic issues, opening the debate between different stakeholders by inviting speakers from the academic and policy level and thus representing different disciplines and sectors. Each year the conference’s subtitle indicates the key topics up for discussion. The focus in 2015 will be on challenges of globalization, representation and communication. In 2016 the main focus will be on the challenges of peace, resilience and good practices. Previously the focus areas have been challenges of development, security and cooperation (2013) and challenges of sustainability, cooperation and governance (2014).

CAPS has hosted events on the European Union and the Arctic before, and the 2014 Trans Arctic Agenda had a very successful panel on that particular topic. As the 2015 conference will have a strong focus on the representation of other actors (other then the eight member states of the Arctic Council) the EU component is a very important one. The EU has expressed interest in the Arctic and its developments, published policy documents on the subject and is a leading actor in many of the Arctic’s most important fields such as climate research, setting environmental standards, human rights issues and shipping. This makes it important to incorporate the EU in the discussions on the future of the Arctic, how it will and should be governed, who’s interests should be represented and how.