About us

Our mission

The Centre for European Security Studies (CESS) is an independent institute for research and training, based in Groningen, the Netherlands. CESS seeks to advance political development, democracy, human rights and in particular security, by helping governments and civil society face their respective challenges.

CESS is an international, multidisciplinary and inclusive institute. Its work is part of the European quest for stability and prosperity, both within and outside Europe. CESS encourages informed debate, empowers individuals, fosters mutual understanding on matters of governance, and promotes democratic structures and processes.

CESS is fully dependent on external project-funding. From 1993 onwards CESS has been funded by a broad variety of foundations, international organisations and governments. From 2015 onwards most project funding was received through the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Open Society Foundations.

Merijn Hartog
Merijn HartogDirector
Call me (or send an email) for more information.


Merijn Hartog
Merijn HartogDirector
Merijn Hartog has worked at CESS since 2003. He has implemented a variety of good governance and security sector reform projects in the Western Balkans, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Merijn is an experienced trainer and enthusiastic motivator of staff, fellows, interns and trainees. His primary research interest lies in Western Balkans developments.
Erik Sportel
Erik SportelSenior Programme Manager
Erik Sportel has worked at CESS since 2006. Next to implementation of a variety of projects at CESS, he also oversees fundraising efforts and finance at CESS. Erik has broad training and research experience in regions where CESS works. His primary research interest, however, lies in Moldova. Erik also teaches part-time at the International Relations Department of the University of Groningen.
Jos Boonstra
Jos BoonstraSenior Researcher / EUCAM coordinator
Before joining CESS in 2016, Jos Boonstra worked as head of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia programme at FRIDE, a think tank with offices in Madrid and Brussels. At CESS, his research focuses on democratization, security and development policies in Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia. Jos is member of several international research networks and regularly comments on European and Central Asian affairs in opinion articles and media.
Brigitte Stekelenburg
Brigitte StekelenburgOffice manager
Brigitte joined CESS in 2016. As CESS’s Office Manager she is responsible for daily financial management of the organisation as well as budget development and financial reporting to donors.


Bauke Snoep
– CESS Associate

Bauke Snoep is a seasoned trainer who has helped CESS out since 20006 with training on democratic governance in the security sector, integrity building, corruption fighting and fundamental rights of military personnel. Before his engagement with CESS he was President of EUROMIL, a European umbrella organization for organizations of military personnel.

Sami Faltas CESS Associate

Sami Faltas is a former Director of CESS and an experienced trainer. He holds a doctorate in economics and published widely on international affairs, disarmament and security. At CESS he stood at the basis of several training modules, for instance the praised role play on the fictitious country of Croania.


Peter Volten – Chairperson

Peter Volten is founder of CESS and former Professor of International Relations at the University of Groningen, Peter has written extensively on security and defence issues.

Peter Vanhoutte – Secretary

Peter Vanhoutte is a Belgium high-level mediator and a Parliamentary and Political Party Empowerment Expert.

Nienke de Deugd – Treasurer

Nienke de Deugd is Senior Lecturer at the Department of International Relations and International Organization, University of Groningen, the Netherlands

Wim van Eekelen – Member

Wim van Eekelen is a Dutch former Minister of Defence and Secretary General of the WEU

Centre for European Security Studies

Lutkenieuwstraat 31a
9712 AW Groningen
The Netherlands
T +31 (0)50 313 25 20