Workshop: Regulating Irregular Conflicts: (Inter-)national Frameworks and Mechanisms

The Webster Vienna Private University International Relations Department is excited to host visiting researcher Dr. Elena Zhirukhina, for a series of international relations workshops this summer.

As a participant in the Erasmus+ program, Dr. Zhirukhina will be visiting WVPU from the Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan to offer a four-part lecture workshop regarding her research program. By partaking in the Erasmus+ program, Webster Vienna not only enhances its internationalization strategy, but visiting scholars will have the chance to meet and discuss possible research projects with IR faculty.

Dr. Elena Zhirukhina holds a lecture position at the Institute of Diplomacy at the Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and a research affiliation with the University of St Andrews. Previously, Elena investigated state practices of countering irregular threats as Marie Curie Fellow at the School of International Relations of the University of St Andrews and worked for a research institution under the umbrella of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Zhirukhina’s workshop, titled “Regulating irregular conflicts: (inter-)national frameworks and mechanisms”, explores countering irregular adversaries including global, regional and national frameworks through engaging with debate on pressing security issues of fighting financing of terrorism, dealing with foreign fighters and lone actors terrorism, application of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ state practices. The workshop consists of three thematic sessions focused on (1) theories and methods, (2) global and regional frameworks, (3/4) national frameworks.

The first session (4 hours) will introduce the main concepts, interconnected, and often overlapped, in different political context, including war, civil war, irregular conflict, terrorism, counterterrorism, insurgency, counterinsurgency, and (de)radicalization. Apart from offering a universe of terms with their respective application, this session will study the foundation of available scholarship: data and method of analysis. Indeed, it is crucial to understand where data comes from before making any trustworthy judgments. No less important is to be aware of methodology (and its limitations). During practical exercise, the class will work on producing a research design to study current security issues.

The second session (4 hours) will study how the above-mentioned concepts are utilized within the global (the UN), and regional (the EU) frameworks. The class will examine the global approach to counterterrorism expressed through the vision of the United Nations and get familiar with UN instruments designed to tackle various aspects of terrorism. Practical exercise, focused on fighting financing of terrorism, in particular, functioning of the ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Regime, would help the group to investigate application of one of the UN instruments. The regional framework, on the example the EU counterterrorism approach, analyses its institutional design, and challenges in coordinating multi-layered and multi-actor composition. Practical exercise would invite the class to consider strategies of dealing with foreign fighters and returnees, taking perspective of either security agencies or civil society organizations.

The third and fourth session (4+4 hours) starts a series of case studies dedicated to national strategies by looking at the United States, Russia, the UK, and selected EU states. First, the class will study the U.S. doctrines of Global War on Terror and Global Counterinsurgency and engage with a debate regarding utility of drone’s application in U.S. counterterrorist operations abroad, thus, investigating benefits and drawbacks of ‘hard’ counterterrorism. Second, the Russian counterterrorist experience will serve as case of complex strategy combining both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ practices illustrated by the management of the conflict in the Russian North Caucasus. Third, the class will address the UK take on domestic and international terrorist threat, and specifically, investigate how the country can end protracted irregular conflict with terrorist exposure by keeping a region in, and incorporating it politically. Thus, we will focus on a peace process in the Northern Ireland. Finally, we will look into different counterterrorism strategies of the EU member states, which, although being part of the supranational entity, retain their own approaches to national security. In the practical part, we will address issue of ‘lone wolves’ terrorism in Europe, working with real cases of recent attacks and biographies of perpetrators including possible motives of violent engagement, paths of their radicalization, methods they have chosen to conduct an attack.

Students who attend all dates of the workshop will be awarded with a certificate of participation on the last day!

Workshop info:

Dr. Elena Zhirukhina “Regulating irregular conflicts: (inter-)national frameworks and mechanisms” 
June 26th and 27th, July 5th and 6th from 9:30 – 13:30 / Room 3.01

If you would like to attend, please register by June 22nd 2018, via email to