Happy Hour: Do's and Don't's of Networking in Brussels

December 08, 2015

On December 9th, WIIS Brussels hosted a relaxed and dynamic Happy Hour.  It was an informal networking event about... networking! Some 30 WIIS members from wide range of sectors exchanged their personal experience and insights about how to make meaningful professional connections. Life in a professional expat city such as Brussels provided for a lot of substance and input. Recommendations ranged from "DO be curious and authentic"  and "DO listen" to "DON'T get too personal", "DON'T praise yourself too much" and  "DON'T stick to one single person".

This was not only the last Happy Hour of 2015 but also the first of our new revamped Happy Hour event series, which will continue in 2016. The series is aiming at gathering a group of individuals around a specific topic and at establishing connections amongst people from diverse backgrounds who share common interests.

The Asian Paradox: Rising wealth, lingering tensions

November 09, 2015

Women in International Security (WIIS) Brussels and Friends of Europe invited you to join leading Asian and European security experts for a high-level conference on "The Asian Paradox: rising wealth, lingering tensions" on November 10th in Brussels. We discussed Asia's security challenges and see whether the region can maintain its economic growth in the face of unresolved territorial disputes, historical animosities, strident nationalism and a rise in arms spending.

• How effective are the current security structures in Asia to deal with the old and new challenges?
• Are there any lessons for Asia from Europe’s experience in reconciling adversaries as well as conflict resolution and management?
• Should Asia create a NATO-like regional alliance and what is the outlook for greater cooperation between NATO and Asian nations?

Speakers included:

• Nur Hassan Wirajuda was Indonesia’s foreign minister from 2001 to 2009, and is currently on the council of presidential advisors. 
Chunjuan Nancy Wei is Associate Professor of East Asian and Pacific Rim Studies at the University of Bridgeport, USA.

Kimie Hara is Director of East Asian Studies and Renison Research Professor at the University of Waterloo, Canada.

Jamie Shea is Deputy Assistant Secretary General at NATO's Emerging Security Challenges Division and a Trustee of Friends of Europe.

Ong Keng Yong was Secretary-General of ASEAN from 2003 to 2007, and is now Executive Deputy Chairman of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University.

Michael Reiterer is Principal Adviser at the Asia and Pacific Department of the European External Action Service.

Kongdan Katy Oh Hassig is a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and Senior Asia Scholar at the Institute for Defense Analyses.

Breakfast conversation: "To lead or not to lead? Germany and Europe as foreign policy players"

October 07, 2015

Women in International Security (WIIS) Brussels and the EU Office of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) organised a breakfast discussion entitled “To lead or not to lead? Germany and Europe as foreign policy players” with Dr. Constanze Stelzenmüller, Robert Bosch senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

The large numbers of refugees entering Europe is only the latest in a series of policy challenges that Europe has to face, including the financial crisis, and a war in Eastern Ukraine. The events certainly raised questions regarding the functioning of current EU policies and question the solidarity of European citizens, with each other but also with citizens from countries further abroad.

Germany has taken the lead within a European context, but does not always draw support from other EU member states on all its positions. Is Germany willing and able to pursue a leadership role? Is German leadership sustainable? What impact do the crises have on the political and economic union of Europe? Can Europe tackle all these challenges or are we witnessing the end of Europe as we know it? Is there an opportunity for a concerted European foreign policy?

The event was led by German, European, and transatlantic foreign and security policy and strategy. Dr. Uwe Optenhögel, head of FES EU Office and Dr. Julia De Clerck-Sachsse, Public Diplomacy Adviser/ Strategic Planning at the European External Action Service as the moderator.

Conversation with Virginia Murray, Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Mission to the EU

September 29, 2015

The U.S. Mission to the EU in partnership with WIIS Brussels, Leadarise and Young Professionals in Foreign Policy (YPFP) organised a Conversation with Virginia Murray, Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Mission to the EU.

Ms. Murray engaged in an interactive discussion on challenges and opportunities for building a career in the field of international security. Throughout her time with the Department of State, Ms. Murray specialised in energy, trade, and economic development issues. She discussed her experiences with the Department of State in the Middle East and Asia Pacific and most recently in her postition as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon, Burma.

The discussion was moderated by Irina Bratosin d'Almeida, Member of WIIS Brussels' Steering Committee and Senior Associate at the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (EPLO).

Happy Hour on Professional Development

September 14, 2015

A delegation of members from WIIS Germany, Ambassador Mariett Schuurman, NATO Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security and Kristel Ba, German Marshall Fund Paris, Transatlantic Leadership Program joined us for our next Happy Hour focusing on professional development at GMF Brussels premises.

The debate was moderated by Jaqueline von Saldern, Career Counselor & Coach, and member of WIIS Germany. Irina Bratosin, WIIS Brussels took the opportunity to present the new WIIS mentoring programme for women in the international security and defence field.

Conversation with Francesca Tardioli, Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Operations, NATO

July 01, 2015

Francesca Tardioli discussed her experience in the security and defence field as DASG at NATO and as a career diplomat in the Italian foreign service. She shared her views on what public policies are needed to improve gender equality in the sector. This informal event was held with the support of the the US Missions to the EU and to NATO followed by a light networking cocktail.

Conversation with Deborah Lee James, U.S. Secretary of the Air Force

June 16, 2015

Today’s challenges to transatlantic security are manifold. Russian forces continue to threaten Europe’s Eastern borders, Daesh is gaining ground with calculated offensives in Syria and Iraq, the danger of an Ebola pandemic is far from over while rising tensions in Asia require urgent attention. Equally relevant are domestic pressures in Europe and the U.S. caused by the economic crisis and challenges to uphold military capabilities with decreasing defense budgets.

This debate, co-organised with the German Marshall Fund and Friends of Europe, and supported by the US Missions to the EU and to NATO, focused on transatlantic defence cooperation, future technology developments, deployment and the need for comprehensive long-term strategic budgetary planning.

Moderated by Ian Lesser, Executive Director of the German Marshall Fund, Brussels and Claire Craanen, WIIS Brussels Secretary General and Senior Analyst, NATO.

Towards the Implementation of UNSC resolutions on women, peace and security in Latin America and Caribbean

June 15, 2015

In the margins on the EU-CELAC Summit, WIIS Brussels and the International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO) held an international consultation with experts from the EU and the LAC region on gender, women and security to offer insights and concrete policy recommendations to influence the development agenda, as well as proposals for national reforms on the link between gender, women and security as prioritized in the international policy agenda.

Speakers included Ana Maria Gomes, Member to the European Parliament; Jolita Butkeviciene, Director, Latin America and Caribbean, DG Development and Cooperation, EuropeAid, European Commission; Mara Marinaki, Managing Director of Global and Multilateral Affairs of the European External Action Service; Luiza Carvalho, Regional Director for the Americas and the Caribbean, UN Women; and Jivka Petkova, Gender Advisor on Human Rights and Democracy, European External Action Service

Conversation with Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development

June 07, 2015

On the occasion of the European Year for Development, WIIS Brussels organised a Conversation with Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, on 8th June.

Commissioner Mimica shared his thoughts on the EU's role in international development negotiations and on the efforts made to include peace and security in the new framework for Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. Discussions focused on raising awareness of EU’s development cooperation efforts to contribute to global poverty reduction and on the role women in more sustainable societies.

Implementing UNSCR 1325: new impetus and next steps

May 20, 2015

This Conversation with series, generously supported by the US Mission to NATO and the US Mission to the European Union, took a look at how governments and international organisations have implemented UNSC Resolution 1325 and put forth recommendations for next steps.


- Chantal de Jonge Oudraat, President of WIIS Global and Senior Advisor to the Center for Gender and Peacebuilding of the U.S. Institute of Peace

- Jane Morrice, Vice-President of the European Economic and Social Committee and Former Deputy Speaker of the first Northern Ireland Assembly

- Mavic Cabrera Balleza, International Coordinator of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) and Editor of the “Women Count: Civil Society Monitoring Report on Security Council Resolution 1325”

WIIS Brussels's newly elected President, Dr Corinna Horst, Deputy Director of the German Marshall Fund's Brussels office, made opening remarks and the debate was moderated by Claire Craanen, WIIS Brussels Secretary General.

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