• Panel Discussion

Ambitious Goals, Sober Reality? Feminist Foreign and Development Policy Put to the Test

25 June 2024, 4–6 pm (CEST) | College for Social Sciences and Humanities, Essen

In recent years, numerous governments have adopted a “feminist foreign policy”, a contested effort to bring about a paradigm shift in how their country engages with the rest of the world. In this public panel discussion, experts from government and academia will address various facets of feminist foreign and development policy, drawing on the experiences of Germany and other countries.

collage of panellists and event hall

in cooperation with

Numerous governments around the world want to pursue feminist goals in their foreign and development policy, including the German government. However, this paradigm shift is controversial. The question arises as to how much added value feminist principles actually bring to issues of war and peace. There is also a danger that development policy will become overloaded with normative considerations, which partners in the Global South often resist.

The trailblazer, Sweden, adopted a feminist foreign policy (FFP) in 2014. It was followed by a range of countries, including Argentina, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Slovenia, and Spain. In Germany, the current traffic light coalition (“Ampel”) also established a feminist development policy alongside a feminist foreign policy. After the election of a new government in 2022, Sweden tellingly became the first country to rescind its feminist foreign policy.

The panel, open to the general public, will address various facets of feminist foreign and development policy. What are the core principles of an FFP, including a feminist development policy? Has there been a concrete, practical impact of adopting an FFP? Or does an FFP mainly repackage existing practices? Does the establishment of an FFP increase the risk that foreign and development policy will be characterised by double standards? Four experts from government and academia will contribute their perspectives on these aspects and related questions.

The panel discussion will be followed by a Q&A session with members of the audience. Afterwards, finger food and refreshments will be served, allowing for informal discussions and networking among participants and attendees.

The organisers of the panel are Stephen Brown, Professor of Political Science at the University of Ottawa and current Senior Fellow at the College, and Tobias Debiel, Professor of International Relations and Development Policy at the University of Duisburg-Essen and Deputy Director of the Institute for Development and Peace (INEF).


16:00  –  Welcome
  • Julika Griem | Director, College for Social Sciences and Humanities
  • Tobias Debiel | Deputy Director, Institute for Development and Peace (INEF), University of Duisburg-Essen
16:10  –  Panel discussion

Moderator: Patricia Rinck | Researcher, Institute of Political Science, University of Duisburg-Essen


  • Angela Heucher | Senior Evaluator / Team Leader, German Institute for Development Evaluation (DEval), Bonn
  • Karoline Färber | PhD researcher, Department of War Studies, King's College London (UK)
  • Stephen Brown | Senior Fellow, College for Social Sciences and Humanities / Professor of Political Science, University of Ottawa (Canada)
  • Theresa Herbold | Senior Policy Officer, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Bonn
17:30  –  Q&A session
18:00  –  Reception (refreshments and finger food)





Prof. Stephen Brown

University of Ottawa (Canada) | Political Science


Stephen Brown is a professor at the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa, where he is also affiliated with the School of International Development and Global Studies. His research focuses mainly on the intersection of domestic and international politics. He has published on democratisation, political violence, peacebuilding and transitional justice/rule of law in Angola, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, and Rwanda. He has conducted research on foreign aid in Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Mongolia, and Peru, as well as on global COVID-19 vaccine inequities. He is now primarily carrying out research on international LGBTQI+ rights. He is completing a research project on international actors’ efforts to defend the rights of sexual and gender minorities in the Global South. His latest project is on how people in some African countries, such as Botswana, Mauritius, and Kenya, use domestic courts to try to force their governments to decriminalise homosexuality. He has been a visiting scholar at universities and research institutes in Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.

Project description



Tandem Partner

Prof. Dennis Dijkzeul

Ruhr University Bochum, Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict (IFHV) | Conflict and Organisation Research


© © Bettina Engel-Albustin

Prof. Tobias Debiel

University of Duisburg-Essen | Institute for Development and Peace (INEF), Deputy Director


Tobias Debiel is Professor of International Relations and Development Policy at the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE) and Deputy Director of the Institute for Development and Peace (INEF). His research interests are: state fragility and violent conflict; post-conflict peacebuilding; global governance and international intervention; development policy in war-torn societies; sanctions and geopolitics.

Selected Publications:

  • Laura Isabella Brunke / Tobias Debiel, The Continuum of Human Insecurity for Women: Femicide in War and Peace, in: Peace Review, Vol. 34 (2022) No. 2 (Femicide, Guest Editor: Shalva Weil), 151-162
  • Tobias Debiel / Stephan Dombrowski, Hybrid Political Orders in Fragile Contexts, in: David Carment / Yiagadeesen Samy (Eds.), Handbook of Fragile States. Cheltenham & Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 137-151