Daniela Irrera, Ph.D.


Associate Professor

University of Catania

Year of PhD: 2004

Address: Via Vittorio Emanuele 49

City: Catania - 95131

Country: Italy

About Me:

I am Associate Professor of  International Relations and Global Civil Society at the Department of Political and Social Sciences of the University of Catania, where I serve as Erasmus coordinator, Deputy Director for Internationalization and Research, and Vice-Coordinator of the PhD Programme in Political Sciences.I currently serve as Secretary General of the Italian Political Science Association (SISP); Chair of the ECPR Standing Group on International Relations; President of the European Peace Research Association (EuPRA), and member of the ISA Governing Council.My research is focused on non-state actors’ influence on global politics, both positive (civil society movements and NGOs) and negative (organized crime groups and terrorists). On these topics, I have extensively published monographs, edited volumes, book chapters and journal articles (among others, on Global Crime, The European Union Review, Perspectives in European Politics and Society, European Foreign Affairs Review).I am review co-editor of Journal of Contemporary European Studies and Chief Editor of International and Political Studies.I am co-editor of the Springer book series on Non-State Actors in International Relations, together with Marianna Charountaki. My simulation, Game of Peace, has been recently awarded in a competition on European teaching practices that enhance learning for international students (IMPACT Project).

Research Interests


Conflict Processes & War

European Politics



Counterterrorism And Counterinsurgency


International Relations


Countries of Interest






My Research:

My research focuses on non-state actors’ influence on global politics, both positive (civil society movements and NGOs) and negative (organized crime groups and terrorists). On these topics, I have extensively published, monographs, edited volumes, book chapters and journal articles (among others, on Global Crime, The European Union Review, Perspectives in European Politics and Society).


Journal Articles:

(2020) Simulating conflict resolution dynamics and fostering negotiation skills, Universidad Externado de Colombia

The article discusses the use of simulations as an active learning tool and explores their suitability in International Relations (IR) stu-dies, involving different student populations. Previous negotiation experiences are used to describe Game of Peace, a negotiation model, developed by the author, for encompassing students in taking on the role of several factions involved in a civil war. By assessing students’ feedbacks, it is here sustained that simula-tions are extremely functional to IR courses, in improving learning abilities, encouraging skills and relational capacities, and in bringing theories and concepts to real life. The article consists of three parts. Firstly, the most recent literature on simulations is assessed in order to reflect on the suitability of simulations; secondly, the Game of Peace experience is pre-sented in its major steps, roles and interactional features. Lastly, its main outcomes are used for assessing its pedagogical impact and envisaging further research.

(2019) Non-governmental Search and Rescue Operations in the Mediterranean: Challenge or Opportunity for the EU?, Kluwer

The article analyses the development of Search and Rescue (SAR) Operations in the Central Mediterranean by NGOs as a controversial but efficient practice and aims to discuss its impact on states’ and EU performances in coping with the migrant and refugee crisis. Using empirical data provided by the Italian Coast Guard from 2014 to 2018, it focuses on these questions: Are non-governmental SAR operations at sea becoming a civilian practice to be associated with governmental ones? Can the consolidation of such practice impact (complement) governmental and intergovernmental policies? It is divided into three parts. First, civil society organizations, and specifically NGOs, are analysed within the theoretical studies on migration, to stress their roles and approaches and to understand their relevance. Second, the recent use of SAR operations at sea by NGOs to rescue people in the Mediterranean are discussed as a complementary tool to governmental one. Their potentiality to become more than a temporary solution and instead to constitute an innovative and consolidated practice of ‘non-governmental SAR operations’ is assessed. Last, empirical data are used to evaluate the perception of such practice and to discuss its political and social legitimation.

(2018) The Relevance of Third-Party Intervention,, Conflict Management and Peace Science

Third-party intervention in conflict management has been extensively analysed by International Relations scholars, stressing both the types of actors involved and the various techniques and approaches that have been developed within and beyond ‘traditional’ diplomatic action. This special collection provides MA and PhD students in peace and conflict studies a chance to assess the state of the art in the current theoretical debate, as well as to deepen their knowledge and promote further reflection. This special collection consists of three parts: first, an overview of some basic assumptions on how to study the involvement of third-party intervention in conflict management; second, considerations of those characteristics that influence the propensity of actors, as well as trends in techniques and approaches, particularly with regard to local communities; and third, the relevance of natural and economic resources employed by third-party actors and their effect on conflicts.

Books Written:

(2018) EU Emergency response policies and NGO. Trends and innovations,, Palgrave Macmillan

This book analyses trends and changes in the European Union’s (EU) humanitarian aid policy, by focusing on the performance of Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs). NGOs have developed strong relationships with international institutions but have also maintained direct interaction with EU member states. The result is a multi-layered process in which national interests, common values, universal principles and global duties meet and interact. By combining a deepening of the theoretical debate with the use of empirical data on the funding of NGO projects by EU institutions and member states, the book significantly furthers our understanding of the complex relationship between these actors. It will appeal to students and scholars interested in EU politics, global security, and international aid, as well as practitioners in the humanitarian field.

(2017) The Palgrave Handbook of Global Counterterrorism Policy,, Palgrave Macmillan

The Palgrave Handbook of Global Counterterrorism Policy examines a comprehensive range of counterterrorism policies, strategies, and practices across dozens of states and actors around the world. It covers the topics of terrorism and counterterrorism both thematically and by region, allowing for discussions about the underpinning dynamics of these fields, consideration of how terrorism and counterterrorism are evolving in the modern period, and in-depth analyses of individual states and non-state actors, and their approaches to countering terrorism and terrorist threats. It draws upon a multidisciplinary range of established scholars and upcoming new researchers from across multiple fields including political science and international relations, sociology, and history, examining both theory and practice in their respective chapters. This volume is an essential resource for scholars and practitioners alike.

Book Chapters:

(2020) Humanitarianism and the migration crisis, Springer VS

The chapter aims to discuss humanitarianism theoretically and empirically, the ways through which is adapted to changes in the global security environment, and how it faces most recent crises and emergencies, producing capabilities and responses. Humanitarianism is defined here as being a broad and comprehensive set of principles, values and norms which make all people in need deserving protection, relief, and support. This definition is investigated as an ideology, as a set of generalizing ideas designed to explain the social reality (namely conflicts, crises, and emergencies), as well as a practical and operative one, aiming at legitimizing and guiding those political action and decisions designed to mitigate the effects of war and deprivation. Migration is a paradigmatic case study. It represents a humanitarian emergency which has seriously challenged the capacities of the global system to properly manage human mobility. The chapter aims at contributing to the scholarly debate, by replying to the following research questions: To what extent has humanitarianism changed and adapted to developments in the management of crises and emergencies’? How did this influence human mobility, migrants and refugees’ issues and the policies to cope with them? What innovations have been brought in this policy field, in particular as for actors involved and practices developed?


(2020) Protecting the Protectors: Strengthening the Security of NGOs in Conflict Zones, Online International Relations

Humanitarian aid workers operate in some of the most dangerous places in the world. As the transboundary dimension of emergencies and their humanitarian implications change, so too do the tools developed by states and intergovernmental organizations to respond. If conflicts become more vast, violent and multidimensional, the conditions in which aid workers are deployed and operate should be even more secure. The impact of humanitarian aid workers in areas affected by war, instability, deprivation and natural disasters is becoming increasingly relevant and influential. Scholars of International Relations have broadly investigated the features and impact of the roles they play, in parallel to the changes occurring to crisis management, at all levels. Although the topic has already raised interest among scholars and practitioners, it still requires further investigations and deserves greater attention, particularly on the part of intergovernmental organization officers. The humanitarian aid worker category is a very broad one, and includes local and international NGOs, intergovernmental organisations staff, and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) staff.

(2020) The Crime-Terror-Insurgency Nexus Security Threat: The Impact in Central Asia, OSCE Academy

This policy brief analyses the impact of the relationships between organised crime, terrorism and insurgency on security in Central Asia. The nexus between terrorism and organised crime is the strategic alliance of two non-state actors, able to exploit illegal markets and influence policy-making at the global level. It refers to a complex of insecurities, specifically the ability of criminals and terrorists to increase their performance at the global level, to establish their headquarters inside failed and weak states, and to interact with other groups that violently oppose the state, namely insurgents and paramilitaries. As a region affected by various security threats, authoritarian regimes, unstable political and economic institutions, and as a strategic area located between Europe and Asia, Central Asia offers an important point of observation for the convergence of various subversive actors and their negative impact on political institutions. The state plays an essential role in the worsening of local security conditions. Organised crime groups are more likely to build closer links with state structures, either indirectly or directly. Thus, a ‘crime-state nexus’ may be an additional component.1 This deserves further investigation. The brief initially describes the nexus and its impact on security; then explores the potential danger in Central Asia; and ends by providing some policy recommendations which focus on the need to draw responses in the light of the hybridity of threats.

Media Appearances:

TV Appearances:

(2020) Indus News

The #EuropeanUnion legal action against the #UnitedKingdom over its plans to overwrite sections of the #Brexit deal

Radio Appearances:

(2016) BBC

Interview to BBC on Red Cross presence in Afghanistan, 12 October 2016

Blog Posts:

(2017) EURACTIV.com

Brexit will badly impact Northern Ireland. Being cut off from the EU will rob it of its main stability guarantee, writes Daniela Irrera.

(2017) LSE Blog on Europe

Several EU governments have sent ships to the Mediterranean as part of efforts to tackle the ongoing migration crisis, but a number of non-governmental actors have also been involved in conducting operations. Daniela Irrera writes on the role of these actors and whether overreliance on NGOs could prove problematic if there is an upturn in attempted crossings in the central Mediterranean following the EU’s agreement with Turkey.


(2020) KK Conversation

KK Conversation with Khawaja Hammad on Hate and Love in Turkey-Russia relations