Roles of civil society actors in nuclear negotiations in multi-track diplomacy fora: armchair activism or epistemic community?

The main objective of the research is mapping out key civil society actors and exploring its roles in nuclear negotiations realm in the context of multi-track diplomacy setting applying theory of epistemic communities.Civil society actors play active and important role at the multilateral negotiations; however, they are mostly restrained in access to high-level meetings and participation is limited in decision-making process given the topic of high politics in the area of international security, in particular nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Therefore, representatives of civil society mainly advocate and lobby to influence agenda and establish connections using multi-track diplomacy approach adopted from peace research, in particular track 2 and track 1.5 channels.Although, these actors bring innovative ideas and try to impact an agenda, they are still seen as activists rather than mediators in the process due to absence of legitimacy to take part constructively in deliberations. Thus, shift in the image of civil society actors from armchair activists to epistemic community representatives, understanding variety of their roles along with strategies by producing categorized and structured analysis could bring about a change of narratives and offer practice-oriented feasible ideas for joint and inclusive actions that can substantially contribute to the progress in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation processes and policies.

Supervisor: Prof Dr. Laurent Goetschel
Co-Supervisor: Dr. Daniel Rietiker (University of Lausanne)
3rd Supervisor: Prof. Benoît Pelopidas


Marzhan Nurzhan earned a Master of Arts in European Studies and a Master of Science in Social Sciences from joint-degree program from Europa-Universität Flensburg and University of Southern Denmark. She also holds postgraduate certificate in Peace Research from the University of Oslo. She is a PhD candidate at the University of Basel. Her research interests include nuclear diplomacy, peace research and politics of knowledge.

Portrait Marzhan Nurzhan

Marzhan Nurzhan
Graduate School of Social Sciences
Petersgraben 52, office 204
4051 Basel