Sven Gunnar Simonsen

Senior Researcher

Sven Gunnar Simonsen
Sven Gunnar Simonsen left PRIO in 2008. The information on this page is kept for historical reasons.

Research Interests

For the year 2008 I am dividing my time between three projects:

* A project examining the role of security institutions in relation to national unity in East Timor. Drawing on my earlier research and new fieldwork, I seek to offer a new perspective to the analysis of security sector reform in East Timor: the demobilization of Falintil and the trajectories of the new military and police forces are considered in light of the weakening of societal cohesion since 1999 – a trend that culminated with the 2006 crisis. Funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Articles from this project are forthcoming in Pacific Review; Relaciones Internacionales (Spain); and Udenrigs (Denmark).

* A comparative project examining security sector reform that is part of internationalized statebuilding following military intervention. This project will review several current cases of SSR in light of existing theory on unit cohesion in military forces. The cases offer an opportunity to broaden the applicability of existing theory; the theory may inspire new suggestions as to how unit cohesion may be optimalized in ongoing SSR projects that appear increasingly exigent. Particular focus is on the cases of Iraq and Afghanistan, and data collection in Afghanistan is part of the project. Funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Defense.

* Finally, in April-May, I served as an OSCE long-term election observer for the parliamentary elections in Georgia.



Languages spoken:

Norwegian, English, Russian, German, Spanish, some Serbo-Croat, basic French

Working experience:

1994-2008  Researcher at PRIO.

2008 OSCE long-term observer at parliamentary elections, Georgia (April-May)

2007-2008  Researched the projects ’Internationalized Statebuilding and Theories of Military Unit Cohesion’ (funded by the Norwegian MoD) and ’The Role of East Timor's Security Institutions in National Integration – and Disintegration’ (funded by the MFA).

2006  On leave (language studies).

2002-2005 'Military Intervention and Post-Conflict Nation-Building', post-doctoral project (funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Defense).

2003-2005; 2007 Academic Coordinator, Australian National University (ANU), PRIO, and Bjørknes College joint postgraduate degree program in international relations, specialising in peace and conflict studies.

1997-2001 'Nationalism, National Identity and the Post-Soviet Russian Military', doctoral project financed by a grant from the Norwegian Research Council, with additional project grants from Norwegian Ministry of Defense, Norwegian Foreign Ministry, NATO, and Brown University.

2000-2003 Book review editor of Journal of Peace Research.

1999-2001 Course Leader, six-week graduate course C-154 Peace Research, 'Armed Conflicts – Causes and Responses'. International Summer School (ISS), University of Oslo.

1997-1998 Fulbright Research Associate, Center for Slavic and East European Studies, University of California, Berkeley.

1991-1994 Nordisk Østforum. Editor-in-chief of quarterly Nordic journal on Russian and East European affairs.

--> 1994 Worked as a journalist for several newspapers, including Dagens Næringsliv, Verdens Gang, and Dagbladet.


Dr. Philos. (University of Oslo, 2002)
Cand Polit. (political science; University of Oslo, 1993)
MA (international journalism; City University, London, 1987)

All Publications

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (2009) Leaving Security in Safe Hands: Identity, Legitimacy and Cohesion in the New Afghan and Iraqi Armies, Third World Quarterly 30(8): 1–19.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (2009) The Role of East Timor's Security Institutions in National Integration - and Disintegration, The Pacific Review 22(5): 575–596.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (2008) Identitad desde la violencia: La nueva división este-oeste en Timor Oriental [Identity After Violence: East Timor's New East-West Divide], Revista Académica de Relaciones Internacionales 4(9): 1–14.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (2007) Building ‘National’ Armies – Building Nations? Determinants of Success for Post-Intervention Integration Efforts, Armed Forces and Society 33(4): 571–590.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (2006) The Authoritarian Temptation in East Timor: Nationbuilding and the Need for Inclusive Governance, Asian Survey 46(4): 575–596.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (2005) Addressing Ethnic Divisions in Post-Conflict Institution-Building: Lessons from Recent Cases, Security Dialogue 36(3): 297–318.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (2005) Between Minority Rights and Civil Liberties: Russia’s Discourse Over “Nationality” Registration and the Internal Passport, Nationalities Papers 33(2): 211–229.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (2004) Nationbuilding as Peacebuilding: Racing to Define the Kosovar, AFO Paper 7.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (2004) Ethnicizing Afghanistan? Inclusion and Exclusion in Post-Bonn Institution-Building, Third World Quarterly 25(4): 707–729.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (2004) Nationbuilding as Peacebuilding: Racing to Define the Kosovar, International Peacekeeping 11(2): 289–311.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (2003) Problems and Prospects of Ethnic Reconciliation in Kosovo, ACE - Analysis of Current Events 15(3): 1–6.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (2003) Presidenter og demokrater i Russland [Presidents and Democrats in Russia], Internasjonal Politikk 61(1): 77–91.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (2001) Compatriot games. Explaining the 'diaspora linkage' in Russia's military withdrawal from the Baltic states, Europe-Asia Studies 53(5): 771–792.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (2001) Nationalism in the Russian political spectrum: Locating and evaluating the extremes, Journal of Political Ideologies 6(3): 263–288.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (2000) Putin's Leadership Style: Ethnocentric Patriotism, Security Dialogue 31(3): 377–380.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (1999) Inheriting the Soviet Policy Toolbox: Russia's Dilemma Over Ascriptive Nationality, Europe-Asia Studies 51(6): 1069–87.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (1996) Blackshirt Friends of the Nation, Nationalities Papers 24(4).
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (1995) Mangesidig opposisjon mobiliserer mot Jeltsin [A Varied Opposition Mobilizes against Jeltsin], Internasjonal Politikk 53(4): 483–499.

PhD Thesis

Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (2002) Pains of Partition. Nationalism, National Identity, and the Military in Post-Soviet Russia. PhD thesis, Oslo.


Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (1996) Politics and Personalities: Key Actors in the Russian Opposition. Oslo: PRIO. PRIO Report.

Book Chapter

Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (2001) Marching to a Different Drum? Political orientations and nationalism in Russia's armed forces, in Journal of Communist Studies & Transition Politics. (41–64).
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (2001) Marching to a Different Drum? Political orientations and nationalism in Russia's armed forces, in Army and State in Postcommunist Europe. London: .

Edited Volume

Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (ed.) (1997) Conflicts in the OSCE Area. Oslo: PRIO.

Non-refereed Journal Article

Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (2008) Øst-Timors tilbageslag [East Timor's Setbacks] , Udenrigs 63(2): 106–108.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (2005) Språket splittrar Östtimor, Internationella Studier(3): 16–19.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (2005) Reconstruyendo tradiciones. Una política lingüística divisoria en Timor Oriental [Reconstructing Traditions: East Timor’s Divisive Language Politics], El Fingidor – revista de cultura 6(25): 50–51.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (2002) Russisk nasjonalisme i imperiets aftenstund: Høyre-ideologiske svar på en revolusjonær situasjon, Nordisk Østforum 4: 397–416.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (2001) Marching to a Different Drum? Political orientations and nationalism in Russia's armed forces, Communist Studies & Transition Politics 17(1): 41–64.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (2000) You Take Your Oath Only Once - Crimea, the Black Sea Fleet, and National Identity Among Russian Officers, Nationalities Papers 28(2): 289–316.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (1999) Debatten om positiv særbehandling i USA, Internationella Studier(3): 39–48.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (1998) Hvem frygter sin egen nationalitet?, Det udenrigspolitiske magasin(3): 71–77.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (1998) Rokhlin Enters the Political Fray, Jane's Intelligence Review 10(1): 14–17.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (1998) Who is Afraid of his Nationality?, CSEES Newsletter (Center for Slavic and East European Studies, University of California at Berkley)(1): 9–12.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (1997) The Terek Cossacks: A Loose Cannon in the North Caucasus, War Report: 14–.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (1997) Förnuft och känsla i Ryssland, Internationella Studier(2): 3–8.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (1997) Rybkin: Yeltsin's Softer Option, Jane's Intelligence Review 9(6): 251–253.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (1996) Raising 'The Russian Question': Ethnicity and Statehood, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 2(1): 91–110.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (1996) Russia's Northern Fleet in Heavy Sea, Slavic Military Studies 8(4).
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (1995) Gennadij Zjuganov: En opposisjonell med hang til nostalgi, Nordisk øst-forum 9(2): 5–18.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (1995) Genosse Konsens. Porträt des russischen Duma-Präsidenten Iwan P. Rybkin, Osteuropa 45(12): 1144–1154.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (1995) Going His Own Way. A Profile of Gen. Aleksandr Lebed, Journal of Slavic Military Studies 8(3): 528–546.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (1995) Leading the Communists Through the '90s, Transition 1(12): 60–64.

Conference Paper

Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (2005) Building ’National’ Armies – Building Nations? Determinants of Success for Post-Intervention Integration Efforts, presented at the Midwest Political Science Association 63rd Annual National Conference, Chicago, 7–10 April.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (2003) A Dilemma of Peacebuilding: Post-Conflict Electoral Systems that Perpetuate Ethnic Division, presented at The Global Justice conference on Democratic Participation, University of Graz, Austria, 23–26 October.
Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (2001) Fault lines in Russia's center-region conflict over 'nationality' and the internal passport, presented at the ASN 6th Annual World Convention ‘Nation-Making, Past and Present: Community, Economy, Security’, Columbia University, New York, 1 January.