Alena Kudzko is Director of the GLOBSEC Policy Institute think tank in Bratislava where she oversees policy development, research, and programming in the areas of defence and security, the future of Europe, global order, technology and society, and strategic communication.
Her current research focus is concentrated on European and transatlantic relations and security, including the reform of security institutions and the EU, and migration. As part of the broader GLOBSEC team, Alena, moreover, contributes to formulating the vision, crafting the agenda, conducting research, and organizing the annual GLOBSEC Bratislava Forum, the GLOBSEC Tatra Summit, and the GLOBSEC Chateau Bela Conference.
Before joining GLOBSEC, she worked at various NGOs and academic institutions in Belarus, Estonia, and Hungary, specializing in the area of foreign relations, democratization, and community development. She further conducted research and project work with civil society organizations on the implementation and strengthening of liberal democratic norms and human rights.
Alena graduated with honours and as the Outstanding Academic Achievement Award winner from Central European University with a Master’s degree in International Relations and European Studies. She previously studied international politics, languages and music at California State University, Bakersfield (as a U.S. State Department Global Undergraduate Fellow), Belarusian State University in Minsk, and the Estonian School of Diplomacy in Tallinn.
At present there appear to be at least two competing global systems that threaten to split the world in two: the rules-based liberal order and the state-led capitalist model put forth by China. This split revealed itself in the lack of a coordinated global response to COVID-19. Rather than harness the power of international cooperation, nation-states have used the crisis to further their geopolitical ambitions causing a further divide among global powers. The distribution of global power and the way it is projected has long changed. Will the U.S. power continue to decline? How does China manifest its global ambition and how will it change the world? Can the EU develop a power centre that is distinct from both the U.S. and China? What role can other countries play? What responsibilities come with global power?
The COVID-19 pandemic and actions taken to protect citizens have intensified the growing trend of “my country first,” multilateralism second. While border closures and restrictive security measures have quickly become the priority over joint solutions and coordinated action, governments enjoy increased trust from citizens. In democracies with vulnerable institutions or in those that displayed illiberal tendencies prior to the crisis, such power intensification can be an easy accelerator on the path towards further estrangement from the very founding principles of liberal democracy – notably the rule of law and equal protection of rights and freedoms. At the same time, the trend of de-liberalisation should be recognised as voters keep repeatedly choosing the conservative, nationalist, or populist leaders. Is this trend a natural expression of a need for change or a threat to democracy as we know it? How should international institutions react to such developments in their member states? Will this have any effect on transatlantic cooperation? What impact will social media have on democracy?