CIDOB Foundation

Coordinates: 41°22′59″N 2°10′5″E / 41.38306°N 2.16806°E / 41.38306; 2.16806

Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB)
Casa de la Misericordia, head office of CIDOB
Abbreviation CIDOB
Motto Putting people at the heart of international relations
Formation 1973
Type Private foundation, think tank
Headquarters Elisabets, 12, 08001
Location Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Director Jordi Vaquer
President Narcís Serra

CIDOB, acronym of Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (Centre d'Estudis i Documentació Internacionals a Barcelona in Catalan language; Centro de Estudios y Documentación Internacionales de Barcelona in Spanish), is a Catalan think-tank based in Barcelona, Spain, dedicated to research, document and divulge contents of the different areas of international relations and development studies. The centre defines itself as an organisation that is «an independent, non partisan centre that contributes to ongoing international debates from the perspective of a major Mediterranean metropolis» [1]. Legally speaking, CIDOB is a private foundation with a Board of Trustees that includes among its members the main political institutions and universities of Catalonia and Barcelona, in addition to a number of ministries of the Spanish Government. CIDOB is currently the oldest think-tank in Spain, and one of the most influential in its field.


The acronym CIDOB and the centre’s name

The centre's original name was, from 1973 onwards, Centre d'Informació i Documentació Internacionals a Barcelona (translated into English, Barcelona Centre for International Information and Documentation), thus giving rise to the acronym CIDOB. Later on, the centre was referred with other names, including Centro de Relaciones Internacionales y Cooperación Internacional (Centre of International Relations and International Cooperation) and Centro de Investigación de Relaciones Internacionales y Desarrollo (Research Centre on International Relations and Development); these titles still appear in quotes and references from other media, thereby creating certain confusion. These names, as well as the present one –Centro de Estudios y Documentación Internacionales de Barcelona – no longer correspond to the historical acronym, though it has always been used exclusively to refer to the organisation.


CIDOB emerged in 1973 as a non-profit-making association of socio-cultural nature based on the personal experience of its founder, Josep Ribera i Pinyol, one of the promoters of the Catalan inter-diocesan movement Agermanament (Brothering), which was active in cooperation projects with countries in Africa and South America. This original CIDOB was known as CIDOB Tercer Mundo (CIDOB Third World) or CIDOB-TM. In 1979, as a result of the political transformations succeeded in Catalonia and Spain, and upon a desire to «energise the democratic fabric with respect to international cooperation»[2], CIDOB was legally constituted as a private foundation with a Board of Trustees, whose members, public and private, were representatives of the political and cultural life of Catalonia and Spain.

In the years that followed, CIDOB grew up to become a research and document center focused on international issues and global problems such as human development, and pursuing to become a major framework able to connect Catalan reality with that of the rest of the world. With this aim in mind, CIDOB has taken full advantage of Barcelona's prominence as a Euro-Mediterranean capital that also has special links with Latin America. Since the 1990s, the centre has strengthened its networking connections with European initiatives on issues concerning cooperation, international relations and security, as well as its academic activities, oriented toward the generation of ideas and specific political action [3].

Josep Ribera continued to head CIDOB until December 2008, when he chose to step down after 35 years at the helm. His successor as director was, by decision of the Foundation's Board of Trustees, Jordi Vaquer i Fanés, an International Relations doctor and researcher at CIDOB to that moment [3]. Narcís Serra i Serra, former mayor of Barcelona, former minister in the Spanish Government and one-time leader of the Catalan Socialists, has chaired the Foundation since 2000. In March 2010, Javier Solana Madariaga, to the previous year the EU's High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, was appointed Honorary Chairman of CIDOB, a newly created post outside the organisational structure [4].

Organisation and installations


The Foundation is headed by its chairman, Narcís Serra. The centre itself consists of a management team made up of the director, Jordi Vaquer, a managing director and two assistant directors for the areas of Institutional Relations and Documentation, and Research and Projects. The working staff is made up of researchers and specific staff responsible for the sections of documentation and library, publications, Web services and administration. At present (2011), 42 people work at CIDOB.

Board of Trustees

The Foundation's Board is made up of the following institutional trustees, whose financial contributions represent most of the centre's annual budget:


Casa dels Infants Orfes

CIDOB’s offices are divided between two historic buildings – nearby but not adjoining – on calle Elisabets in Barcelona's Raval district, very close to La Rambla and Plaza de Cataluña. They are Casa de la Misericòrdia (Elisabets, 12) and Casa dels Infants Orfes (Elisabets, 24).

The Casa de la Misericòrdia has, since 1988, housed the centre's main installations, including the official head office, the archives and library, as well as Sala Maragall, the hall used for events. Originally, the building (which includes the old church) formed part of the School of St William of Aquitaine, founded by the Augustine Order in 1587, and later on it was used as a municipal primary school. During the Napoleonic invasion it served as clandestine headquarters of the citizen's movement against the French occupation. In more recent times, in 1910, it became the home of the Institute of Culture and People's Library for Women; later still, in 1940, the building became the head office of the Institute for Theatre, as well as being home to the Adrià Gual Chair.

The Casa dels Infants Orfes also dates back to the 16th century. It was built as the head office of the institution founded by Guillem dez Pou in 1370 to provide a home for orphans in the Diocese of Barcelona. It has an adjacent chapel, commissioned by Claudi Cosal in 1680 and redesigned in 1785. Among the building’s later uses, it was a school run by the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul (1848) and a convent for the Carmelites of Charity (1875). The chapel lost all its religious furnishings and fittings during the Spanish Civil War.


Fields of specialisation and events

Over the past decade, CIDOB has systematised its areas of research, by maintaining its traditional subjects/regions of interest and adding other, more specific ones. Currently, CIDOB operates three major programmes: People and Frontiers; A more secure life; and Democratic Governance. Under these generic premises, research works cover both thematic and geographical areas. In the first group major topics are: Development; Environment; Energy; Human Security; Intercultural Dynamics; Migrations; Conflicts; Local Government; State, Democracy and Foreign Policy; and Regionalism. CIDOB has a particular focus on «six fields of excellence» [1], namely: European Foreign Policy and Neighborhood Relations ; Security Sector Reform; Intercultural Dynamics; Migration Policy in Europe; International relations of cities and regions; and EU Enlargement.

As for geographical specialisation, CIDOB follows in particular political issues from Europe (including the post-Soviet realm), the Mediterranean and Middle East, Latin America and Asia (Central Asia in special). Four regional powers, one in each continent, receive priority: Brazil, China, Russia and Turkey [1]. The international political situation, the world human development indicators and the Spanish international cooperation and foreign relations are also monitored on an ongoing basis.

At structural level, eight «issues-regions» are defined at the moment: Asia; Development; Europe; Intercultural Dynamics; Latin America; Mediterranean and Middle East; Migrations; and Security. Each issue-region is directed by a researcher or senior research fellow who works with other analysts, assistants, associate or visiting specialists and external contributors. Some programmes also have a projects manager. Research teams work with interdisciplinary scholar networks and generate their own academic activities, publications and documentary collections.

CIDOB’s research work is conceived to be disseminated as widely as possible, and thus it's aimed not only at specialists and scholars, but also at public organisations, mass media, NGOs, businesses, university students and public in general. Direct dissemination requires seminars, conferences, debates and workshops. Also, CIDOB regularly announces calls for papers, issues policy papers and introduces new publications. In its own words, CIDOB's vision consists of «promoting good global governance based on democratic practices at the local, national and supranational level in order to ensure people’s basic needs for freedom and a life without fear». Meanwhile, the centre's mission is to «offer information and ideas that help to shape policies that promote a safer, freer and more just world for all» [1].

Every year, CIDOB and the City Council of Barcelona jointly hold the international seminar War and Peace in the 21st Century, a series of debates attended by leading personalities from public function, governments and international academia. Other important annual events include the International Seminar on Security and Defence in the Mediterranean, organised jointly with the Spanish Institute for Strategic Studies (IEEE, which reports to the Spanish Ministry of Defence), and the Seminar on the Ibero-American Development Agenda (ADI), run with the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB). These three seminars have been held since 2002, 2002 and 2005 respectively at the Palace of Pedralbes in Barcelona.


CIDOB edits and publishes a wide range of analytical and documentary stuff in different formats, in print edition and online.


They are available on hard copy and/or in electronic format, published either exclusively by CIDOB or as joint publications:

  • CIDOB International Yearbook. This is probably the centre's best-known publication. Published since 1990, it features four main sections: Spain's Foreign Relations; Europe; International Situation and (since the 1997 edition), Country Profile, which analyzes from different views a relevant country on the international stage. The countries highlighted to date have been: India (1997); Turkey (1998); Russia (1999); China (2000); Mexico (2001); Morocco (2002); South Korea (2003); Brazil (2004); South Africa (2005); Portugal (2006); Algeria (2007); Nigeria (2008); United States (2009); Russia (2010); and Turkey (2011). The International Yearbook consists of analytical articles by experts in the field and policy makers, and the so-called appendices, which are documentary in form (numerical tables, graphs, chronologies, balance sheets, maps, etc). The print edition is fully available and free of charge over the Internet. The International Yearbook, covering the year before, is usually published in July each year. The presentation is held at the Llotja de Mar, the head office of Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, and is attended by the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, together with an academic or political figure from the country to which that particular year's Yearbook is dedicated.
  • Asia-Pacific Yearbook. Focuses on this specific geographical area, and is jointly published with two other Spanish think-tanks, Casa Asia and Real Instituto Elcano. The first yearbook was published in 2005.
  • Immigration in Spain Yearbook. Analyzes the main characteristics and trends of immigration and Spain’s immigration policies, through a collection of studies carried out from sociological, economic and legal perspectives. Published since 2007.
  • Mediterranean Yearbook. Jointly published with the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed); the Yearbook appeared between 2004 and 2008.
  • CIDOB Journal of Afers Internacionals. Academic journal about issues of international relations and cooperation, published since 1983 every four months. Articles provide different perspectives of the worked topics, combining analysis in-depth and information.
  • dCIDOB. Monographic studies in Catalan language. Published from 1983 to 2009 (111 issues), appeared on a four-monthly basis.
  • Documentos CIDOB. Collection of thematic studies linked to the research projects. Published in print edition and electronic format.
  • Notes Internacionals CIDOB. Single articles on issues of international current affairs. Published on the CIDOB website since 2009, exclusively in digital format.
  • Opinion. Short, journalist-style articles on issues of international current affairs. Published since 2008, solely in digital format.


  • Interrogar la actualidad (Questioning the present). Collection of volumes of essays, only in print edition for commercial distribution.
  • Monographs. Publications deriving the research work done by CIDOB. They may be jointly published, in hard copy format and online.

Teaching and IBEI

Since 1989, CIDOB provided training programmes for university postgraduate students, in collaboration with the University of Barcelona. The courses available were:

  • Diploma in Development Cooperation.
  • Diploma in International Relations.
  • Master in International Studies.
  • Master in Development Studies.

Currently, CIDOB's teaching activities take place within the academic programmes of the Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals (Barcelona Institute for Studies International, IBEI), a private foundation created by CIDOB in March 2004, whose members included the five Catalan universities (UB, UAB, UPC, UPF and UOC) sat in the Board of Trustees of CIDOB. This inter-university institute offers two postgraduate courses: Master in International Relations and the Erasmus Mundus Masters Programme in Public Policy (Mundus MAPP); the latter is provided in association with the Central European University (CEU) of Budapest, the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of Rotterdam and the University of York. The IBEI also holds two summer courses: Barcelona Summer School in International Politics and the Summer School of the Mediterranean. Furthermore, CIDOB was a member of the network of organising centres for the Master en Affaires Euro-Méditerranéennes/Master in Euro-Mediterranean Affairs (MAEM-MEMA).

Documentation, BIBA and information services

Since it was founded, one of CIDOB’s basic services has been the maintenance of an extensive documentary collection specializing mainly in international relations and development, which is open to the public. These documentary and bibliographical collections are collectively known as the Biblioteca Internacional de Barcelona (International Library of Barcelona, BIBA); the library was created to support the teaching and research activities done by CIDOB and IBEI, as well as to provide a service to the university and research community as a whole, to journalists and other professional people interested in the subject.

At present, CIDOB's documentation, library and information area is organised for users into four sections:

Documentation Centre and Library

The Library contains a documentary collection specialized in international relations and development, particularly in the geographical and subject areas deemed to be priorities for CIDOB. The documents are the following: the approximately 400 international periodical publications to which CIDOB is a subscriber; another 600 titles that are no longer received; more than 12,000 volumes and monographs; and a further 11,000 documents in other formats. The Library also contains all the publications published by the Foundation. The online catalogue for the documentary collection enables users to browse lists of all the items acquired since 1985.

The Documentation Centre analyses the periodical publications that it receives in accordance with a list of its own descriptors, as well as managing specific databases of periodical publications and acronyms. The Documentation Centre also helps to create documentary appendices for some of CIDOB's own publications.

Digital Library

Set up in 2011, this is an online database with a search engine that enables users to access all content produced by CIDOB: maps, chronologies, acronyms, biographies, news and activities, dossiers, articles and monographs on subjects under study.

Dossiers CIDOB

A non-periodical online publication focusing on international political current affairs. The Dossiers are monographic studies of specific events of a national or international scope, created by the centre's researchers and information specialists. They contain analytical articles produced by CIDOB, links to external articles and news items, and to official reference documents, as well as to support material produced ex profeso. This information tool has been available exclusively through the Web since 2009.

Biographies of Political Leaders

Biographical information service, online since 2001. Country leaders’ profiles are situated «in context», by presenting and explaining the historical, political, economic and social circumstances surrounding them. At present (2011), this Web service features more than 600 biographies of political leaders from around the world. As with the Dossiers, the texts are designed so that they can be updated at any time.

Affiliations, agreements and collaboration projects

CIDOB maintains an extensive network of memberships and affiliations with academic organisations in Spain and abroad. These include: Spanish Council for Ibero-American Studies (CEEIB); European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI); European Information Network on International Relations and Area Studies (EINIRAS); Europe's Forum on International Cooperation (EUFORIC); Euro-Mediterranean Study Commission (EUROMESCO); International Peace Research Association (IPRA); International Studies Association (ISA); Latin American Studies Association (LASA); One World Online; and the European Network of Information and Documentation on Latin America (REDIAL).

CIDOB also has collaboration agreements with the following institutions and centres: Agència Catalana de Cooperació; Banco Santander Central Hispano; British Council; Barcelona Chamber of Commerce; Casa Amèrica Catalunya; Casa Árabe; Casa Asia; Diputación de Barcelona; Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC); Diplomatic School of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation; Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo (FUNGLODE); Spanish Institute for Strategic Studies (IEEE); European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed); University Institute of European Studies of the Autonomous University of Barcelona; Spanish Ministry of Culture; Spanish Ministry of Defence; Real Instituto Elcano; Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Some of CIDOB’s agreements and affiliations have generated specific products and services aimed at the general public:

  • Access to the BIBA for students at the IBEI.
  • In association with IEMed, CIDOB published the above mentioned Mediterranean Yearbook between 2004 and 2008.
  • Within the framework of the EINIRAS Database Network (EDN), CIDOB publishes a database of articles from online periodical publications.
  • Together with Casa Asia and Real Instituto Elcano, the centre manages the Observatory on Central Asia (OAC), set up in 2007* Together with IEEE, CIDOB manages the web portal Security and Defence in the Mediterranean (SEDMED).

Likewise, CIDOB (together with seven other international research centres from countries in Europe) participates in the academic consortium EU4SEAS Project, a research network on cooperation based around the Black, Baltic, Caspian and Mediterranean seas, and which is funded by the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development of the European Union. CIDOB also contributes to the Migrant Integration Policy Index III (MIPEX III) and, as mentioned above, organises the Ibero-American Development Agenda (ADI), together with ECLAC.

Social influence

In 2009, Iberglobal – the portal for the internationalisation of business and the economy – ranked CIDOB third in a list of the most influential think-tanks in Spain. The centre was given 158 votes out of 1,313 in a survey of just over 500 readers. Fifteen Spanish think-tanks were evaluated in the poll; among them, the Elcano Institute and the Foundation for International Relations and Exterior Dialogue( FRIDE) were ranked first and second [5].

The 2010 edition of Global Go-to Think-Tanks - the prestigious list of think-tanks around the world devised by the University of Pennsylvania - assessed 4,567 centres from around the world and placed CIDOB 37th out of the 50 best non-US think-tanks, in the category Top 50 Think-Tanks – Worldwide (Non-US). In this list, the Barcelona centre was the only one from Spain, and only the third from southern Europe, after two French centres [6].

In 1999, CIDOB Foundation received the Lluís Carulla Honour Award, a prize it shared with Professor Ramon Sugranyes i de Franch.


Enlaces externos

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