Beyond Sovereignty: Delegation and Agency in International Security


Principal Investigator: Hylke Dijkstra

The international bureaucracies of the United Nations, NATO and the European Union play a crucial role in the planning and conduct of military operations. This project will investigate why sovereign states delegate such important functions in the field of security and under which conditions these bureaucracies exert agency.

Using insights from international political economy, Hylke Dijkstra will innovatively expand the research domain on delegation/agency in international organisations to security issues. He will take a distinctive comparative approach looking at delegation/agency in the United Nations, NATO and the European Union.

For these organisations, he will analyse instances of delegation and nondelegation in the post-Cold War period to understand the reasons why states delegate tasks. He will use case studies to get an insight into the conditions for agency during the agenda-setting, planning and conduct of military operations. In terms of data, the emphasis is on official documents and semi-structured interviews.

Project Objectives

In this project, the emphasis is on the role of civil servants working in the permanent secretariats in Brussels and New York. While these civil servants have to listen to the member states, which are their formal masters, they also have preferences of their own. As such, they may try to affect policy outcomes in the highly sensitive area of security affairs by pushing for their own hobby horses. In other words, they are actors in their own right. This makes the politics of multinational military forces a fascinating area of inquiry.

Project Outputs

Blog posts:

Policy making in EU Security and Defense: A Q&A with Hylke Dijkstra

EU Reform: Five recommendations for the European Foreign Service


H. Dijkstra (2015) 'Functionalism, multiple principals and the reform of the NATO secretariat after the Cold War', Cooperation and Conflict, published via OnlineFirst.

H. Dijkstra (2013) Policy-Making in EU Security and Defense: An Institutional Perspective, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

H. Dijkstra (2012) 'Efficiency versus Sovereignty: Delegation to the UN Secretariat in Peacekeeping', International Peacekeeping 19(5), pp. 581-596.

H. Dijkstra (2012) 'Agenda-Setting in the Common Security and Defence Policy: An Institutionalist Perspective', Cooperation and Conflict 47(4), pp. 454-472.


European Commission


Marie Curie Intra European Fellowship (IEF)

Project Start / End

Sep 2012 - Aug 2014

News & Publications