Call for International scientific conference “National interest(s) in World Politics” – application deadline extended

International scientific conference “National interest(s) in World Politics”

University of Belgrade, Faculty of Political Science

Belgrade, January 2024


National Interests of the Republic of Serbia: from Contestation to Legitimation (https://nationals.rs/) is a project funded by the Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia.

The aim of the project is to improve the scientific fund about the process of defining and applying the concept of national interests and legitimizing these interests at the global stage through the use of international law and public diplomacy. It was to that end that we have decided to organize this International Scientific Conference as a multidisciplinary forum for sharing and exchanging ideas regarding different aspects of national interest in world politics today. While the focus of the project is to study the national interest of the Republic of Serbia, the conference will have wider reach.

Thus, the conference aims to gather scholars, experts and practitioners from various scientific disciplines: International Relations, Foreign Policy Analysis, International Law, EU studies, History, Political Science, Economics, Sociology…

Call for papers

National interest is a theoretical concept that is often taken for granted in Political Science and practice. However, there are plenty of open questions regarding this concept in International Relations Theory: among them, the conceptual question (interest of the state or as an interest of an ethnic nation); the ontological question (objective, subjective or inter-subjective category); the epistemological question (positivist or an interpretive approach); the practical question (the role of political elites, and in particular foreign policy elites, media, public opinion and other relevant actors in its creation and articulation, etc.).

National interest of any state is connected to some structural factors such as the territory of a state, its location and the size of its population. However, it is also deeply rooted in history, culture and societal factors. Apart from internal factors, conceptualization of national interest is also tied to a state’s position in the international arena and its search for proper ways of legitimizing and achieving national interest among other international actors. This multifaceted embodiment of the abstract but vital concept of national interest is what prompted us to study it from different angles. This conference will focus on the advantages that a state can draw in achieving its national interest from various forms of multilateralism, including regional integration, public diplomacy, and peaceful settlement of disputes.

One of the most important means for the pursuance of national interest in international fora is public diplomacy. States should try to strategically use this tool to present its positive image and legitimate its interests. Public diplomacy should closely follow peaceful foreign policy means in open issues with foreign actors and allow to spread the message of dedication to the international norms. However, this is not an easy task in the current era of the liberal order crisis and global changes that might be tectonic.

Another useful tool can be the reliance on international law which enables states to make their claims in the language of something greater than their particular interests. The language of international law is capable of transforming those particular interests into universally accepted norms of behavior. Furthermore, the idea of the international rule of law promises legal equality and legal certainty on the international level. Therefore, legal justification of the state’s behavior on the global stage demands thorough knowledge of international law techniques and its institutions.

In order to present the state of affairs in the study of national interest, the Conference will be structured around 4 thematic sections that can include, but are not limited to the following research topics:

Section 1: Theoretical, methodological and practical underpinnings in the studies of national interest

  • Ontology and epistemology of national interest
  • State-centric or ethnic-centric conception of national interest
  • National interest and national security
  • National interest and national identity
  • National interest and power
  • The role of institutions and political elites in formulation of national interest
  • The role of public opinion and media in formulation of national interest
  • Economic, cultural and security aspects of national interests
  • Measuring and scaling national interest implementation
  • Historical method in national interest analysis

Section 2: European integration and national interest

  • National interests of EU member states and a general interest of the EU
  • National interests of EU candidate countries and EU accession process
  • EU membership: a strategic goal or a national interest in EU aspiring countries
  • Compatibility of EU accession goal with national interests in countries aspiring membership
  • Internal and external legitimacy of EU accession goal
  • Efficiency of national EU accession policies: turning words into actions?

Section 3: International relations/foreign policy/public diplomacy and national interest

  • Current debates on national interest in different International Relations theories
  • Foreign Policy Analysis and national interest decesion-making
  • Diplomacy as a tool for achieving national interest
  • Public Diplomacy and related concepts as a tool for achieving national interest
  • Economic statecraft and national interest
  • Balancing strategies and national interest
  • Small states foreign policy strategies and national interest
  • Stigma and national interest
  • Diplomatic history and national interest

Section 4: International law and national interest

  • National interest and the sources of international law: national interest in formulation of International Law norms
  • International Law as the tool for achieving national interest
  • Legalization and International Relations
  • Functions of International law in International Relations (Politics)
  • Legal argumentation in world politics
  • Why actors in IR comply with international law
  • National Interest in legal reasoning
  • National interest and peaceful settlement of disputes
  • National interest and diplomatic and consular law
  • National interest and the use of force
  • National interest and IHL
  • National interest in Human Rights Law
  • National interests, crises and international law

Section 5: National Interest in the Balkan region: Historical and Contemporary Perspective

  • Comparative analysis of national interest in the Balkan region
  • Balkan historical heritage and national interest
  • “Balkanization” and and national interest
  • Foreign policy strategies of Balkan states and national interest
  • Forthcoming Serbian foreign policy strategy and national interest of Serbia
  • National interest of Serbia in the regional context


We encourage applications from researchers (graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, faculty and research institute staff) and practitioners from a variety of disciplines, including political science, IR, (international) law and history.

Interested participants should submit their application to conference@nationals.rs , by 15 October 2023, 23:59 (CET)

The following information must be included in the application:

  • An abstract, not exceeding 300 words with title and keywords
  • A short biography (should be included in the abstract itself and contain the author’s name and affiliation, a list of relevant publications and author’s contact details, including email address)

Working language of the conference is English.

Full papers

Selected participants should submit a first draft of their paper (min. 3000 words) prior to the conference. The paper will be shared with other panel speakers in order to enable interactions during the panels.

Publication of Conference Proceedings

The Book of Proceedings will be published in print and electronic edition. Further details about how to submit full papers for publication will be provided to all participants immediately after the conference. The Book of Abstract will be published in electronic edition.

Travel Grants

A limited number of travel grants are available to interested participants on a competitive basis. Each travel grant is up to EUR 450. If some funds remain available, higher grants might be considered on the case-by-case basis.

To apply for the travel grant, we kindly request that you submit a brief cover letter (up to 1 page) addressing the following points:

  • Explain your reasons for applying for the travel grant and how attending the conference aligns with your academic or professional goals.
  • Indicate whether you have alternative sources of funding to cover the costs associated with attending the conference.
  • Provide an estimation of your anticipated travel expenses, including transportation and accommodation costs.

Cover letter should be included as a part of you conference application submission (together with required abstract and short biography).


  • The deadline for submission of abstracts is 15 October 2023
  • Successful applicants will be informed no later than1 November 2023
  • The deadline for submission of full papers for the conference is 15 January 2024
  • The conference runs from 25 to 26 January 2024
  • The deadline for (optional) submission of final version of papers (to be included in Conference Proceedings) is 15 March 2024

If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at: conference@nationals.rs.

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