Conzelmann, T (Thomas)




Global Governance, Peer Reviews, Corporate Social Responsibility, International Organizations, EU External Policy



Biographical Note

Thomas Conzelmann is Professor of International Relations at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS), Maastricht University, and currently serves as Associate Dean of Research at FASoS. Thomas is principal investigator of a comparative research project on peer reviews among states, funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). Click 'research' on the left for further details.  

Before coming to Maastricht, Thomas held positions at the University of Darmstadt (2001-2007), at the Mannheim Center for European Social Research (MZES, 2000-2001) and the University of Mannheim (1995-2000), where he also completed his PhD (magna cum laude). During his doctoral studies he spent a year as Visiting Research Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science and at the University of Birmingham. After studies at Berlin (FU), the Victoria University of Manchester and the University of Heidelberg, he obtained a MA degree in Political Science (major) and Public Law / History (minors) from the University of Heidelberg (with highest distinctions).


Office hours

I do not operate fixed office hours. Please make appointments through E-mail.

Career History


Go here for my full CV


Maastricht University

  • Full Professor of International Relations March 2013 – date
  • Associate Dean for Research, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences: January 2018 – date and September 2009 – September 2013
  • Director of Studies, Research Master (MSc) European Studies: June 2016 – December 2017
  • Co-director, Centre for European Research in Maastricht (CERiM): February 2015 – September 2016
  • Director of the FASoS Graduate School: September 2009 – September 2011
  • Associate Professor of International Relations and EU External Relations: September 2007 – February 2013


Darmstadt University of Technology: Assistant Professor of International Relations: October 2001 – August 2007


Mannheim Centre for European Social Research: Postdoctoral Researcher: April 2000 – September 2001


Mannheim University: 

  • PhD (magna cum laude, November 2002)
  • PhD Researcher and Lecturer: February 1995 – March 2000


Heidelberg University

  • Master of Arts (MA) (with highest distinctions); Major: Political Science; Minors: Medieval and Contemporary History, Public Law
  • Studies at Heidelberg University (1988-1990; 1992-1994); Free University Berlin (1990-1991); Manchester University, UK (1991-1992)

Research Profile

My current research focuses on the politics and institutions of global governance, in particular whether non-binding instruments such as peer reviews among states and voluntary self-regulation hold potential in solving global problems.



Research Projects

Beyond the carrot and the stick: What makes peer reviews among states authoritative instruments of global governance? (2013-2019)

The project focuses on peer reviewing procedures among states as an increasingly widely used, yet poorly understood instrument of global governance. It looks at peer reviews in different international organisations (The UN family, the WTO, the OECD and the Council of Europe) and in different policy areas (anti-corruption, human rigths, economic and trade policies). 

The project probed into the conditions under which peer reviews among states will be more or less authoritative instruments. In this context, the project is interested in the concrete functioning of peer reviews in terms of preparation of reviews, interaction during the review meeting, and follow-up after the meeting. In terms of practical relevance, the project wants to help policy-makers arrive at informed choices regarding the use of peer reviews among states in comparison with other ‘softer’ or ‘harder’ international monitoring instruments.

The project ended in October 2018 and was funded by the NWO Innovative Research Subsidy (VIDI). Please visit for more information.

Some larger co-operative research projects in which I was involved in the past dealt with issues of corporate social responsibility, the democratic legitimacy of transnational governance, and international negotiation systems. An overarching interest of these research projects is how global governance by public and by private actors can be made both more effective and more democratically legitimate. The projects were funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the European Union in the context of the Network of Excellence “CONNEX” (FP 6). Furthermore, I have published on multi-level governance and the increasing use of soft law in the European Union, and the role of developing countries in global governance arrangements. This research was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, the European Union, and the ZEIT Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius.

My PhD research focused on EU regional policy and EU state aid regulations, and their impact on the regional policies of Great Britain and Germany.


PhD Supervision

PhD candidates whom I am currently supervising as first promotor or as co-promotor:

  • Martina Kühner: Powerful numbers for effective outcomes? The role of global monitoring to foster sustainable development (FASoS, with Ron Cörvers, ICIS)

PhD candidates who graduated under my (co-)supervision:

  • Valentina Carraro: Just another brush stroke on the human rights canvas? The design and authority of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review vis‐à-vis the UN treaty bodies (graduated in October 2017, supervised with Sophie Vanhoonacker)
  • Hortense Jongen: Fighting corruption the soft way? The authority of peer reviews to monitor compliance with anti-corruption standard setting instruments (graduated in September 2017, supervised with Giselle Bosse)
  • Maarten Smeets: The WTO Multilateral Trading System in a Globalizing World: Challenges and Opportunities (graduated in September 2017, supervised with Peter van den Bossche).
  • Oxana Slobozhan: Global governance in the management of natural resources: The case of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) (graduated in November 2014, supervised with Luc Soete).
  • Anne-Claire Marangoni: Consistency or inconsistency of EU external policies? A case study on the European Commission (graduated in October 2014, supervised with Sophie Vanhoonacker)
  • Johanna Hoeffken: Power to the people? Civic engagement with small-scale hydroelectric plants in India (graduated in December 2012, supervised with Wiebe E. Bijker)

I have participated in a dozen or so reading committees for PhD candidates at Maastricht University 


Research grants:

  • ‘The Softening and Hardening of Borders’; European Commission COFUND scheme (with Sophie Vanhoonacker and Merle Achten); € 1.400.000,-
  • Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence for CERiM; European Commission (with 9 other professors from Maastricht University; Principal applicants: Thomas Christiansen and Johan Adriaensen); € 147.085,-
  • Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence for CERiM; European Commission (with 9 other professors from Maastricht University); € 99.828,- 
  • Establishment and Founding Director of the Centre for European Research in Maastricht (CERiM) ; Maastricht University (with 9 other professors from Maastricht University); € 1.019.000,-
  • ‘Authority and Control in International Organizations’ (workshop grant); Universiteitsfonds Limburg/SWOL and Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences of Maastricht University; € 4.500,-
  • (2014) "Reshaping Europe in a Globalising World" (Internal UM grant for the erection of the Centre for European Research in Maastricht -- CERiM; co-applicant with 8 colleagues from FASoS and the UM Faculty of Law); 1.050.000,- €
  • (2013) "No Carrots, No Sticks: How do Peer Reviews among States acquire authority in Global Governance" (NWO Innovative Research Grant VIDI); 800.000,- €
  • (2011) „Beyond the Carrot and the Stick: Peer Reviews as an Instrument of Global Governance“ (Bonus for eligible but not funded project application under the NWO Innovational Incentive Scheme); Maastricht University; 25.000,- €
  • (2010) „Peer Reviews as an Instrument of Global Governance“ (workshop grant); University of Maastricht / DFG-Sonderforschungsbereich 597 (with Kerstin Martens); 9.000,- € 
  • (2007) „Unternehmen als Normunternehmer“ (research project continuation grant) Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (with Helmut Breitmeier and Klaus Dieter Wolf); 121.400,- €
  • (2007) „Private Self-Regulation in the European Union“ (workshop grant); European Commission / Network of Excellence CONNEX (with Anne Flohr and Sandra Schwindenhammer); 10.000,- €
  • (2007) “What Future Shape for the EU? Reflections on Multi-Level Governance” (publication grant) European Commission / Network of Excellence CONNEX; 3.200,- € 
  • (2006) „The Democratic Legitimacy of Soft Modes of Governance“ (workshop and publication grant); European Commission / Network of Excellence CONNEX (with Susana Borrás); 14.600,- € 
  • (2005) „Unternehmen als Normunternehmer“ (research grant); Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (with Helmut Breitmeier and Klaus Dieter Wolf); 202.700,- € 
  • (2005) „Soft Modes of Governance and the Private Sector: The EU and the Global Level" (workshop grant); European Commission / Network of Excellence CONNEX; 15.500,- €
  • (2005) „Nord und Süd im globalen Regieren – Forschungsperspektiven, Politikfelder, Akteure“ (workshop grant); ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius (with Jörg Faust); 5.000,- € 
  • (2001) „Argumentieren und Verhandeln in internationalen Verhandlungssystemen“ (workshop grant); Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft / Mannheimer Zentrum für Europäische Sozialforschung (MZES) (with Beate Kohler-Koch); 2.200,- DM
  • (2001) „10 Jahre Regionenforschung – Was haben wir gelernt ?“ (workshop and publication grant); Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft / MZES (with Michèle Knodt); 15.000,- DM 
  • (1999) “The EU and its Performance in International Organizations and International Treaties” (conference travel grant); Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft; 2.100,- DM
  • (1997): “Europeanization of National Policies? Linking the Multi-Level Governance Approach with Theories of Policy Learning and Policy Change” (conference travel grant); Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft; 1.850,- DM





I currently coordinate and teach in the following courses:

BA European Studies

  • International Relations: Contemporary Issues and Actors (EUS 2005)

MA European Studies:

  • International Relations: Cooperation and Conflict (EUS 4001)

Research Master European Studies

  • Thesis Proposal (RES 5511)
  • Thesis (RES 6800)

I regularly supervise MA Theses and Bachelor Dossiers in the following areas: International Relations, Global Governance, North-South Relations, Foreign Policy, External Relations of the EU (in particular to developing countries), Corporate Social Responsibility

My CV (go to > Profile > Professional Career History in the left-hand menu) contains a full list of courses taught at Maastricht University and during previous appointments at the Universities of Darmstadt and Mannheim.

Work for third parties

  • free-lance lecturer at Global River Cruises

Other activities

Anonymous referee for the following journals, funding agencies, and academic publishers:

  • Cambridge Review of International Affairs
  • Czech Science Foundation
  • European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR)
  • European Integration Online Papers (EIoP)
  • European Political Science Review
  • European Research Council (ERC)
  • Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek – Vlaanderen / Flemish Research Council (FWO)
  • International Studies Review
  • Journal of Common Market Studies
  • Journal of European Integration
  • Journal of International Relations and Development
  • Journal of Public Policy
  • Journal of South East European and Black Sea Studies
  • Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kultur des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen
  • Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)
  • Oxford University Press
  • Palgrave Macmillan
  • Regional and Federal Studies
  • Regulation & Governance
  • Review of International Organizations
  • Socio-Economic Review
  • St. Anthony's International Review
  • Zeitschrift für Internationale Beziehungen


Membership of professional organisations:

  • German Political Science Association (DVPW)
  • International Studies Association (ISA)
  • Nederlandse Kring voor de Wetenschap der Politiek (NKWP)
  • Netherlands Institute of Government (NIG)
  • Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE)
  • Study Committee European Integration (AEI)
  • United Nations Association of Germany (DGVN)
  • University Association for Contemporary European Studies (UACES)

Additional roles & tasks

Full Professor of International Relations