Toby Vogel

Brussels, Belgium

Toby Vogel

Writer on international affairs, Brussels.



Ary Zolberg: Beginnings of a biography

Picture: The Chicago Maroon || On September 5, 1944, Father Pierre Goossens, the principal of the Institut Notre- Dame de Cureghem, a Catholic high school in Brussels, celebrated mass to mark the city’s liberation from the Germans by the British 2nd Army the previous day. But father Goossens also had an announcement to make to the staff and 500 students of the Institut: Henri Van den Berghe, who had enrolled in the school’s Greek-Latin section a year earlier, was not who he appeared to be–a Catholic Fleming who had commuted from Schepdaal, just outside of Brussels, until January, when he became a boarder. Henri Van den Berghe, Father Goossens said, was really Aristide Zolberg and had been forced to hide ”for being a member of the same race as Our Lord Jesus Christ”.
American Political Science Association Organized Section on Migration and Citizenship Link to Story

The U.S. Congress, a Voice for the Balkans In the 1990s Wars, Needs to Step Up Again

President Donald Trump and National Security Advisor John Bolton are engaged in a campaign to pressure a close American ally into ceding parts of its territory to a historic adversary. The two are pushing a strategy to strong-arm Kosovo into border changes or a land swap with Serbia that would upend a decades-old bipartisan policy – one that has been supported by the entire Euro-Atlantic community — of opposing the redrawing of international borders along ethnic lines.
Just Security Link to Story

Germany Must Stop Dangerous Drive to Partition Kosovo

As the US and the EU foreign policy chief up their pressure on Kosovo to change its borders with Serbia, Germany must stand up for the principle that redrawing borders on ethnic lines is wrong. For two decades, European countries have worked closely with the United States to implement and safeguard a fragile peace in the Balkans.
Balkan Insight Link to Story

The Western Balkans – Media freedom under attack

Frequent ownership changes; apparently random dismissals in the newsroom; sudden shifts in advertising revenue; and the occasional friendly or less friendly call by the prime minister to the editor in chief, on her private mobile phone outside of office hours – these are all among the ways in which political and business elites are seeking to control what journalists are allowed to say in the countries of the Western Balkans. More direct methods of intimidation are also used by power-brokers in the region: there were six instances of physical assault on reporters and editors in Serbia last year and nine the year before, according to Serbia’s independent journalists’ union, NUNS. “Journalists [in the Western Balkans] are being mistreated, pressured and are working in a hostile environment,” says Aljaž Pengov Bitenc, a blogger and podcaster who is editor in chief of Radio KAOS, a small multimedia radio station in Ljubljana.
European Western Balkans Link to Story

Juncker Tour Highlights Gaps in EU’s Balkan Strategy

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s Balkan roadshow earlier this week was supposed to highlight Brussels’ new strategy for the region – and its message, that all six countries that want to join the EU have a solid prospect of doing so.
Balkan Insight Link to Story

Willem Schinkel IMAGINED SOCIETIES A critique of immigrant integration in Western Europe

Across Europe, calls for immigrants to better integrate into their host countries have become louder and more insistent in recent years. Immigrants are expected to emerge from their “parallel societies” and engage as active citizens of their adopted countries, embracing liberal-democratic values such as gender equality and secularism. Their failure to do so, encouraged by a misplaced policy of multiculturalism, is seen as the main factor behind persistent socio-economic exclusion.
The Times Literary Supplement Link to Story

Europe Must Respond to Threats to Liberal Values

As the crisis over the judiciary in Poland has shown, the EU must be more vigilant in defending values that both member states and candidate countries seem determined to test. For the past several months, the European Commission has been accused of inaction over moves by Hungary and Poland to strengthen the hold of ruling parties over the institutions of the state.
Balkan Insight Link to Story

Rule of law: Double standards undermine EU's role in the neighbourhood

Article 2 of the Lisbon Treaty defines the European Union as a community of values and then goes on to list them: respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are supposed to inform all EU policies, including enlargement and foreign and security policy, which crucially depend on the strength of the EU’s ‘soft power’. But what happens to the EU and its power to persuade and lead by example when it fails to safeguard its values at home?
European Neighbourhood Watch Link to Story

Libya: The strategy that wasn't

As a failed state in the European Union’s immediate neighbourhood that serves as a base camp for terrorists and a conduit for irregular migration to Europe, Libya is precisely the kind of place for which the EU’s foreign policy instruments were designed, or so one might think. Since the NATO intervention that helped oust Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the EU has deployed most of its crisis response approaches and instruments in the country, including new procedures set out in the 2013 review of the European External Action Service (EEAS), most notably a Political Framework for a Crisis Approach (PFCA). Yet, almost nothing in Libya has followed the liberal peacebuilding playbook, which assumes an improving security situation followed by reconstruction and sustained democratic political transformation. Instead, the EU has struggled to make any impact while the ongoing chaos in the country has deepened divisions among member states, with migration control emerging as the lowest common denominator for EU action.
CEPS Commentary Link to Story

EU’s Own Credibility is at Stake in Macedonia

In its approach to Macedonia, and the Balkans, the EU has neglected democratisation in the name of stability - and has so betrayed its own values and empowered local autocrats.
Balkan Insight Link to Story


Twenty years of peace implementation in Bosnia-Herzegovina are a powerful reminder that bad institutions encourage bad behaviour. The country has been exceptionally ill served by its leaders; but these leaders are the product of a particular post-war order put in place by the Dayton Accords of 1995. They are behaving rationally when they behave badly, as Christopher Bennett suggests in his excellent new book Bosnia’s Paralysed Peace.
The Times Literary Supplement Link to Story

Die manipulierte Revolution

Der Westen hat mit dem Eingreifen bei der Entmachtung des serbischen Machthabers Milosevic den Umsturz eher behindert als befördert. So lautet die These des Buches «Engineering Revolution».
Neue Zürcher Zeitung Link to Story


Toby Vogel

Toby Vogel is a writer on foreign affairs based in Brussels. In 2007-14, he was a staff writer on political and home affairs with European Voice, a newsweekly. Previously, he was a contributing editor of Transitions Online and a writer on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s daily Newsline, with a focus on the Balkans.

He was educated at the University of Zurich (MA, philosophy, 1995), completed his PhD coursework in politics at the New School for Social Research (MA, 1998), and was a Andrew W. Mellon Foundation research fellow on security and humanitarian action at City University of New York (2003).

Vogel worked in New York for the Open Society Institute and the International Rescue Committee. In 1999-2002, he was head of monitoring and evaluation for the IRC's $20m refugee return and reintegration program in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and subsequently worked as a consultant on refugee and governance issues with the UN Development Programme and other organisations in Bosnia and Kosovo.

Vogel is a regular reviewer of current affairs titles for the Neue Zürcher Zeitung and has written for the Wall Street Journal, the International Herald Tribune, and the Times Literary Supplement, among others. He is co-editor of "Dayton and Beyond: Perspectives on the Future of Bosnia and Herzegovina" (Nomos publishers, 2004).

Vogel is a co-founder and senior associate of the Democratization Policy Council in Washington, DC, and Berlin; an associate of the Council for a Community of Democracies; and a fellow of the 21st Century Trust.

He is married with two daughters.



  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Researching
  • Reporting
  • Policy
  • Politics
  • International affairs