Which countries present an increased risk?
Which countries call for additional attention and, perhaps, additional measures when considering collaboration with partners who are based there? What can you do to assess the risks?
It would be wise to proceed from a risk management policy that addresses threats, regardless of the countries from which they emerge. If your policy focuses on only a few ‘high-risk’ countries, you could potentially overlook threats from other countries, which could nevertheless pose a risk, A focus on ‘high-risk’ countries could also incriminate everything associated with the selected ‘high-risk’ countries. The latter is bad for science and contrary to the principle of non-discrimination.
If you would like to assess the risk profile of a specific country, you can make use of the threat information that is publicly available. For example, the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV), the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) and the Military Intelligence and Security Service (MIVD) published a joint ‘State Actors Threat Assessment’ in early 2021. In addition, the annual reports of the AIVD and the MIVD contain current information on threats. Another example is www.sanctionsmap.eu, which lists countries that are subject to sanctions.
You could also consult relevant international rankings and indices of NGOs, research institutes and international organisations. Poor scores on such overviews should raise red flags. For example, consider the status of academic freedom, or of freedom in general, democracy and respect for the rule of law.
Examples of international rankings and indices:
- Academic Freedom Index
- Freedom in the World Report published by Freedom House
- Democracy Index published by The Economist Intelligence Unit
- World Justice Project Rule of Law Index published by the World Justice Project
The overviews listed here are intended only as illustrations. What matters is that you substantiate your own risk judgement. If a country scores poorly on such rankings, that does not necessarily rule out the possibility of collaboration with institutions from that country. You can cooperate with researchers from such countries, as long as you take the appropriate precautions and as long as you take into account the context within which the intended partner operates.
If you want to find out more about the risk profiles of specific countries, you can contact the National Contact Point for Knowledge Security. The contact point is connected to all relevant departments of ministries and services, including the country experts at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).