Humboldt University has established a new initiative to improve German-American relations and to fill the gap between politics, business and academia: the Humboldt Institution on Transatlantic Issues.
The concept behind this new institution is to create a think tank which brings together experts from politics, business and academia and which establishes a forum for the exchange of ideas on the most relevant subjects in German-American relations. The think tank is structured as follows: An outstanding scholar in the field of international law and politics, Professor Christian Tomuschat , is the president of HITI. A secretariat and a junior scholar prepares the day-to-day work of the think tank and the publications of HITI. The Think Tank was created by an initiative the Strategic Evaluation and Planning Group (STEP) of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. It is funded by the Transatlantik-Programm of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Labor.
Two advisory bodies form the core of the Institution: a senior board, made up of elder, experienced academics and statesmen; and a junior board, consisting of young professionals in the fields of politics, academia, business and the media. The composition of these boards reflects HITI’s strategy of combining public policy, business and academia to create valuable synergies for the transatlantic dialogue. The boards work to identify problem areas where improved transatlantic dialogue is necessary for a better understanding between the US and Germany. These problem areas are then discussed in transatlantic workshops which take place in Berlin and in Washington D.C. The results of these workshops are then published in short, concise, and results-oriented policy papers.
Five workshops will take place between December 1, 2003 and December 1, 2004. The first workshop took place in Berlin on Dec. 1, 2003 and dealt with problems related to the extraterritorial application of US civil law, particularly tort law, and its effects upon German-American economic relations. Workshops in April 2004 and June 2004 will deal with cultural differences and their impact upon transatlantic trade disputes, and with the strategic importance of the Caspian Sea region’s energy resources for Germany and Europe.
Two additional workshops are planned for the late Summer and Fall of 2004. One of these will take place in Washington D.C., for which we are looking for a partner institution in order to assist us there. A respected American think tank would be an ideal partner, and initial contacts are being made.
HITI is currently in a stage of growth and development, in which where we are testing our new contribution to German-American relations. The first three years of HITI’s operation will be financed by resources from the European Recovery Program (ERP), funded by the German government. We are confident that after this initial phase HITI will have established its place in German American relations, enabling it to secure solid financing in the years to come and ensuring that Humboldt University has its own voice in this area of tremendous importance.