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Gerrit Kurtz

  • PhD students

PhD Stduent

Research subject areas

  • Conflict and security

Contact details



Research interests:

Preventive diplomacy

UN Peacekeeping and peacebuilding

Protection of individuals from harm

The conflict in Sri Lanka

German and European foreign policy


The role of frontline diplomats in the prevention of civil wars

 An increasing number of governments include the prevention of violent intra-state conflicts in their foreign and security policy. Yet, early preventive action creates an inherent challenge for frontline diplomats, i.e. members of the foreign policy architecture posted in missions abroad. As an essentially political objective, conflict prevention relates to core governance issues such as rule of law, social inclusion or civil-military relations. How do foreign diplomats that are supposed to refrain from interfering in another country’s domestic affairs manage this challenge? Which practices do frontline diplomats and national elites view as effective in conflict prevention?

The research project investigates contemporary practices of preventive diplomacy on the ground. Based on field research and in-depth interviews with members of the diplomatic community as well as national elites in the country concerned, it elucidates common practices in raising sensitive political issues and differences between countries. It studies three areas of preventive action: field-capital relations (knowledge production, analysis and policy advice), international coordination between different actors on the ground, and engagement with local elites in government and society.


Professor Christoph Meyer (primary supervisor),

Professor Mats Berdal (secondary supervisor)


Gerrit Kurtz is a PhD candidate at the War Studies Department of King’s College London. He is also a member of the research school of the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and a non-resident fellow with the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi), a Berlin-based think tank. Before his PhD, Gerrit worked as a research associate for GPPi, where he was part of the coordinating team of an international research project on major powers and the evolution of the notion of the “responsibility to protect” (R2P). He also worked on a study on the atrocity prevention policy in the first Obama administration and on a consulting project on local conflict management by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan. For fieldwork, Gerrit has travelled to New York, Brussels, London, India, Sri Lanka, South Sudan and Eastern Congo. His research has appeared in Conflict, Security and Development as well as Global Society, and his comment has been featured in a number of German news outlets as well as The Hindu, an Indian daily newspaper. Gerrit pursued his undergraduate studies in governance and public policy at the University of Passau, with a year at the Institut d’Études Politiques in Grenoble, France. He holds an MA in International Relations from Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt Universität Berlin and the University of Potsdam.