The accurate identification of sensitive domains of knowledge within your institution is important. Examples include dual-use technologies and knowledge that can be used for unethical purposes.
It is also important to chart your ‘crown jewels’: the domains that pose risks associated with knowledge transfer and within which your institution is an international leader.
A brief risk analysis should be conducted for each sensitive domain of knowledge.
- You can use public threat information to estimate a country’s risk profile. Examples include the State Actors Threat Assessment (Dreigingsbeeld Statelijke Actoren) (only available in Dutch) published by the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV), the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) and the Military Intelligence and Security Service (MIVD). You can also consult international rankings: a poor score for academic freedom and respect for the rule of law should raise red flags. A poor score does not necessarily rule out the possibility of collaborating with institutions in the country in question, but it is important to take proper precautionary measures.
- Thereafter, as part of due diligence, it is important to examine the background of the foreign partner or client. This involves paying close attention to warning signs, like a lack of information on the internet or the fact that the institution is not known to anyone. Consider what the motives of clients or research funders might be and whether they might have an interest in a specific outcome. It is important to be aware of the possibility of being gradually brought into a situation of financial (or other forms of) dependence. In case of security risks, it is important to involve your security coordinator. Ensure that decisions concerning engagement with the partner are included in the partner acceptance policy by your organisation’s board.