Towards a common European strategic culture: La Fabrique Défense

December 10, 2019

The European defence project has made unprecedented progress since 2016, yet many still lament a lack of a common strategic culture as a key remaining obstacle to further achievements. PESCO, the future European Defence Fund, and the European Commission’s upcoming DG Defence all herald a new era of cooperation. Europe’s armed forces have shown that operational cooperation works, so how can a shared strategic culture be fostered among European policymakers?


French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly recently launched an initiative,  La Fabrique Défense, with two key objectives: to strengthen the link between Armed Forces and the nation, with a special focus on young people, and to build a common European strategic culture. 


Women in International Security (WIIS) Brussels, Young Professionals in Foreign Policy (YPFP) and CEIS invite you to a roundtable focused on how a common strategic culture could enable the full realisation of European defence cooperation.


Speakers will include General Luc de Rancourt, Deputy Director of Strategy at the French Ministry of the Armed Forces and Major General Lugart Claes, Commander of the Belgian Royal Military School. The event will feature testimonials from young actors in the defence domain across the public and private sectors.


Debates will be moderated by Pauline Massart, Deputy Head of Office of CEIS’s European Office, and Vice President of WIIS Brussels.

Conversation with MEP Hannah Neumann and MEP Samira Rafaela

November 18, 2019

WIIS Brussels was pleased to host a conversation with two inspiring female Members of the European Parliament, Hannah Neumman and Samira Rafaela on Tuesday 19 November 2019.


The conversation revolved around “Empowering Women in the Security Sector”. Both MEPs shared their experience and insights of their own career path. Discussions was held under Chatham House rules.

Hannah Neumann represents the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance in the European Parliament. Hannah is Chair Delegation for relations with the Arab Peninsula, Vice-Chair on the Subcommittee for Human Rights, Member of Subcommittee on Security and Defence. Hannah continuously advocates the importance of Women, Peace and Security and the need for adopting an inclusive approach to security.

Samira Rafaela represents the liberal Dutch Democraten D66 in the European Parliament. Samira is member of the committees on International Trade, Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, Delegation to the EU-Chile Joint Parliamentary Committee and the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly. In her previous role she was the driving force behind implementing the diversity and inclusion policy for the Dutch National Police.

Policy debate on women in special forces

November 13, 2019

WIIS Brussels and GMF were pleased to host a policy debate on women in special forces on Thursday, 14 November 2019.

Speaker: Delphine Resteigne, Professor, Belgian Royal Military Academy

Speaker: Tom Van der Spiegel, Human Domain Advisor and Gender Advisor, Belgian Special Forces Group

Moderator: Charlotte Isaksson, Senior Gender Expert to EEAS Principal Advisor on Gender (PAG) and on UNSCR 1325/WPS


Highly trained, physically fit, emotionally stable and ready to be deployed into the most complex and dangerous missions, this is the typical image which comes to mind when thinking about special forces. First, it is a matter of equal (employment) opportunities to also open special forces to female soldiers, as long as they meet certain requirements. But secondly, new types of conflict make it ever more important also for special forces to interact with the society of the host country. In many traditional societies, foreign men in uniform have no or only limited access to women - half of the country’s population - and therefore miss out on important aspects of understanding the host country. Here, female special forces members or female support teams can be the solution. 

An Evening to Celebrate the Honourable Rose Gottemoeller

November 04, 2019

WIIS Brussels, in partnership with the Joint Delegation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom Joint Delegation to the NATO, was delighted to host an evening to pay tribute to Rose Gottemoeller, outgoing NATO Deputy Secretary General.

To mark the end of Rose’s term and honour a distinguished career in public service, we were pleased to host a conversation on successful negotiation between her and Federica Mogherini, outgoing High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the EU Commission. They shared their experiences negotiating everything from major treaties to minor meeting agendas in illustrious careers spanning continents.

Conversation with Annemie Turtelboom

October 06, 2019

WIIS Brussels was delighted to welcome Annemie Turtelboom for a conversation on 7 October 2019.

Annemie Turtelboom, is the Belgian member of the European Court of Auditors (ECA) since May 2018. The ECA’s mission is to contribute to improving EU financial management, promote accountability and transparency, and act as the independent guardian of the financial interests of the citizens of the Union. Annemie started her political career in her home country Belgium, where she served as Minister of Migration and Asylum, Minister of Interior and Minister of Justice as well as as Flemish Minister of Finance, Budget and Energy. During her career, Annemie Turtelboom has always been advocating for an inclusive approach to decision making, involving all parts of society and especially giving a voice to women.

During the discussion Annemie shared insights of her current work at the ECA, her prior political career and experience in male-dominated fields such as security and justice and highlight her commitment to gender equality in previous and current roles.

Visit to NATO Headquarters

October 02, 2019

In partnership with the NATO Public Diplomacy Division, WIIS Brussels was excited to invite a select number of WIIS members to the NATO Headquarters on Thursday 3 October. They heard from various women about what it is they do at NATO and what it’s like to work there.

Within the International Staff at NATO HQ, women make up 39% of the workforce. They continue to be overrepresented in supporting and administrative roles. The percentage of women in senior leadership positions fluctuates greatly, demonstrating the fragility of the situation over time. NATO fully understands the importance of diversity efforts and is committed to change. The Secretary General himself has emphasized time after time that gender equality is not optional, but fundamental to the future of the Alliance.

Image credits: NATO

Understanding Technology: Blockchain for Defence and Security

September 04, 2019

As part of our new series on women and the digital transformation of the security and defence sectors, WIIS Brussels is turning its attention to what technologies are shaking up the sector. We’ll look at what’s behind the much-used and abused buzzwords of Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Augmented Reality or IoT to give you a clear idea of what these technologies are all about, what their advantages and limitations are, and how they are impacting the work of the military and security forces and the security and defence sectors at large.

Our first event focused on Blockchain and its uses for defence, security and cybersecurity. We heard from Suzanne McNamara, Consultant at CEIS, who helped run the French MoD’s innovation lab until 2018 and wrote a White Paper on Blockchain for military uses, and Amélie Rives, Senior Consultant at CEIS and the driving force behind the International Cybersecurity Forum (FIC), Europe’s largest cybersecurity event with some 10,000 participants each year.

Happy Hour- 2019 Summer edition

July 08, 2019

WIIS Brussels was delighted to hold its Happy Hour – 2019 Summer Edition on Tuesday 9 July 2019, 18:30-20:00. It was a great opportunity for our members and any interested non-members to interact with each other in an informal atmosphere and to learn more about the individuals making up the diverse network of WIIS Brussels.


We kicked-off the event with a fun quiz on "Women in Security and Defence" that provided some food for thought for the evening - and beyond!

Insights on Working in CSDP Missions and Operations

June 17, 2019

WIIS Brussels was delighted to hold our annual event with EU Gender and Human Rights Advisors from CSDP missions and operations and from Brussels headquarters, that took place on Tuesday, 18 June 2019 from 18.00 to 20.00.

For the fifth edition of this event which brings together EU Gender and Human Rights Advisors with the wider WIIS community, we shook things up somewhat! The new World Café-format gave participants the opportunity to exchange directly with the Advisors about their experiences in gender and human rights mainstreaming in CSDP missions and operations as well as what daily work and life in a mission looks like.  

Mission Critical: Inclusive Leadership for the Security Sector

June 17, 2019

WIIS Brussels was delighted to support the conference on diversity & inclusion in the security sector "Mission Critical - Inclusive Leadership for the Security Sector" that took place in Berlin from 18-20 June 2019. WIIS Brussels hosted a similar event in Brussels in April 2018, this year, WIIS Germany was one of the co-hosts.

This fifth edition of this trendsetting transatlantic best practices convening was held under the auspices of German Minister of Defence Dr. Ursula von der Leyen. The goal was to provide a leadership development and exchange opportunity for key personnel and stakeholders to gain new strategies for diversity and inclusion (D&I) management in security contexts.

Image credit: GMF

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