Dr Markus Fraundorfer

Dr Markus Fraundorfer


Before joining the School of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) in November 2018, I was a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Sao Paulo, Institute of International Relations (2014-2018). I received my PhD in 2014 from the University of Hamburg (in collaboration with the GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies). I have held visiting positions at the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), the University of Brasília and the University of Edinburgh.


  • Programme Director of MA Global Governance & Diplomacy

Research interests

My research focuses on three major strands related to the profound social, political and economic transformation processes taking place in the global governance system, namely (1) questions of global justice and democracy, (2) global challenges and (3) Brazilian foreign policy.

  1. Questions of global justice and global democracy: the global system today suffers from a severe democratic deficit, with abysmal inequalities all around the globe. The more democratic and equitable the global governance system can be designed, the more opportunities may arise to tackle global challenges in a sustainable way, respecting the planet's rich biodiversity as well as the needs and interests of our own species and other non-human species. Which strategies do exist to realistically democratise the global system? How to confront the current rise of authoritarianism around the globe? What does justice mean in the face of challenges that span the entire planet? And how to reinvent democracy in a global (or planetary) age?
  2. Global challenges: global threats such as climate change, health epidemics, food insecurity and so forth confront humankind with unprecedented challenges. The international system and its major actors with their prevailing intergovernmental world-view are ill-equipped to tackle those challenges which affect every single human and non-human animal on this planet, independent of species, race, culture or nationality. How do those transboundary challenges reconfigure our world-views and the behaviour of the various actors in the global governance system? Which governance solutions exist (or may be developed) to avoid catastrophes of a planetary dimension?
  3. Brazilian foreign policy and the country's new role in global governance: since the beginning of this century, Brazil has slowly risen to unprecedented levels of influence in the global governance system, shaping the international agenda on various issues of global importance, including health epidemics, global poverty and hunger, energy-related questions, the Internet and climate change. How has a formerly marginal country in global politics come to shape and reshape fundamental issues on the international agenda? And what can the world learn from this South American giant? 


I published three books that focus on different aspects of this research agenda.

My first book "Brazil's emerging role in global governance: health, food security and bioenergy" (2015) examines Brazil's emerging role as an important actor in various sectors of global governance in the 2000s and early 2010s. By exploring how Brazil's exercise of power developed over the past two decades in the sectors of global health, food security and bioenergy, this book sheds light on the power and networking strategies of an emerging country from the global south.

My second book "Rethinking Global Democracy in Brazil" (2018) explores Brazil's role in contributing to more democratic and inlcusive global governance processes. In recent years, a growing literature has focused on how to create more effective and democratic global governance mechanisms to better tackle global challenges such as health epidemics, global hunger, Internet surveillance or the consequences of climate change. Yet, there is a gap in accessible published material to reflect contributions of democratic states from the global South.This book argues that developing democracies from the global south have come up with sustainable approaches to a more democratic global system. With chapters on Brazil’s responses to global food security, the purchase of drugs, open government initiatives and internet governance, this book opens up contemporary and novel practices of democracy for examination.

My third book "Global Governance in the Age of the Anthropocene" (2022) teases out the tragic entanglements between dominant global governance dynamics and the global environmental challenges of the Anthropocene, showing how international and global cooperation mechanisms that evolved over the past two hundred years are deeply implicated in exacerbating many of today’s global environmental challenges. The book focuses on several global environmental challenges which are intrinsically interconnected, threatening to destabilise the entire Earth-system with serious consequences for human societies across the world. These global environmental challenges include infectious disease outbreaks, global food production processes, the pollution of freshwater resources, energy consumption patterns, deforestation and COemissions. At the same time, the book also presents several alternative governance examples based on more democratic, citizen-based and holistic approaches to the global climate crisis, which point the way towards a new understanding of global governance in the age of the Anthropocene.

The fourth book (and current project): I am currently writing the first book on the role of the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) in the global politics of neglected tropical diseases. The book is under contract with Oxford University Press. 

The phenomenon of neglect in global health, most poignantly embodied by neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), reflects the deeper structural and ideological flaws of global health governance. These flaws encompass a fragmented governance landscape, the dominance of market ideologies, Eurocentric governance structures, state-centrism and short-term policy responses. These features have shaped the flawed global health response to the Covid-19 pandemic, exacerbating the pandemic and drastically neglecting populations in the global south. In the wake of the fragmented global response to Covid-19, global health scholars have renewed their calls for more solidaristic approaches to global health challenges, involving the empowering of local actors and local knowledge, particularly from the global south. For twenty years, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) has championed such a solidaristic approach by building, as I argue, pharmaceutical commons in several world regions of the global south, producing R&D for NTDs as common goods and empowering R&D processes in endemic countries in the global south. Yet, DNDi’s role in global health governance as a driver of alternative governance approaches to transnational health challenges has never been explored in detail. As a result, there is a lack of academic scholarship exploring this alternative form of governance, raising heuristically valuable questions on how DNDi’s pharmaceutical commons approach evolved over the past twenty years; how successful DNDi has been in challenging the global structures of neglect; and what valuable lessons DNDi holds for confronting global health challenges in more solidaristic ways in a post-Covid-19 world. 


<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD International Relation, University of Hamburg/German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA)
  • MRes International Politics, University of Manchester
  • Magister Artium Political Science and Ibero-Romance Languages and Literature,
  • Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg / Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Professional memberships

  • Academic Council on the United Nations System
  • Latin American Studies Association

Student education

I am the programme director of the MA Global Governance and Diplomacy and the BA International Relations.


PhD Supervision:

I am primarily interested in supervising PhD students in the areas of global governance (global cooperation dynamics), global health governance, Brazilian foreign policy, and regional cooperation in Latin America.

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>The school welcomes enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>