20 February 2020 from 15:00 to 17:00

Public Diplomacy and Multilevel Governance in the 21st Century

Picture of German ambassador Dirk Brengelmann

On Thursday 20 February, German ambassador Dirk Brengelmann will talk about Representing Germany beyond The Hague. The event is hosted by Hans Oosters, the King’s Commissioner for the province of Utrecht, the Utrecht University Centre for Global Challenges and Utrecht University’s section of International Relations in historical perspective.

From the perspective of diplomatic practice Mr. Brengelmann will talk about “Representing Germany beyond The Hague. Public Diplomacy and Multilevel Governance in the 21st Century.” Why is the province of Utrecht relevant to a German ambassador? Why does he aim to represent Germany beyond The Hague, beyond the Netherlands national government? How does this reflect the changing nature of international diplomacy? And what is the perspective on all of this of a Dutch provincial government and its Commissioner, in this case Utrecht’s Hans Oosters?

Changes in diplomacy

Diplomacy is undergoing massive changes in our day and age. That foreign policy is no longer the reserve of national governments, foreign ministries and diplomats, has deeply impacted traditional diplomatic representation abroad. Instead of using embassies as the central hubs of bilateral relations, businessmen, ngo’s, politicians, and indeed government officials handle cross-border communication themselves, by phone, email or sometimes even twitter. At the same time, there is still a need to promote a country’s policies and build networks between decision makers and others at all levels of the host society. The key solution is to invest in public diplomacy and adapt to a world of multilevel governance. 

The role of an ambassador

Mr. Brengelmann will help Utrecht students understand how he as German ambassador deals with these challenges and will invite them to imagine themselves in his role. Mr. Oosters will, in a first reaction, reflect on the province of Utrecht’s position in a globalizing world and on its efforts to connect to representatives and officials from EU partners and other countries.

The meeting will be chaired by Prof. Dr. Jacco Pekelder, of Utrecht University’s section of International Relations in historical perspective


  • Dirk Brengelmann (b. 1956) is married with two children. After studying economics, business economics and history at the universities of Heidelberg and Hamburg Brengelmann first worked with an investment bank, partly in Tokyo. In 1984, he then joined the (West) German foreign ministry and the diplomatic service. Missions included Port-au-Prince (Haiti), London, Washington, Brussels (NATO). In between he rose through the ranks of the Foreign Ministry, for instance leading its policy section of Security and Defense. From 2014 until 2016, Brengelmann was ambassador in Brasilia. In September 2016 he began his term as ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in The Hague.
  • Hans Oosters (b. 1962), after studying law, became a member of the Gouda city council in 1988. Just before that he had started work with the Association of Netherlands Communes, VNG, in which he ultimately functioned as secretary. In 2000, he became mayor of Bergambacht commune and later also interim mayor of Ouderkerk. Between 2005 and 2019, he was dike warden of the regional water authority Schieland and Krimpenerwaard. On 1 February 2019, he was installed as the King’s Commissioner of the province of Utrecht.
  • Jacco Pekelder (b. 1967) is associate professor of International Relations in historical perspective at Utrecht University and honorary professor of contemporary history of Western Europe at Saarland University, Saarbrücken, Germany.

Practical information

  • What: Representing Germany beyond The Hague. Public Diplomacy and Multilevel Governance in the 21st Century
  • When: 20 February 2020, 15.00-17.00 (drinks afterwards)
  • Where: Paushuize, Kromme Nieuwegracht 49
Start date and time
20 February 2020 15:00
End date and time
20 February 2020 17:00