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International Relations: on diplomacy and negotiations


Deze informatie is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Disclaimer: due to the coronavirus pandemic, this course description might be subject to changes.

Tags: multilateral negotiation, simulation, The Hague Peace Conference Simulation, diplomacy, reflection on process and relations, written exam.
Skills: negotiation, multilateral negotiation, reflection on process, reflection on own behavior in negotiation, analytical skills.
Research - Analyse - Problem Solving - Project Work - Cooperation - Communicate verba - communicate in writing - social conscientiousness - reflection - work independently - resilience
Through exercises, simulations and case studies students will actively engage to learn essential negotiation skills. The course is aimed at learning by doing. First theoretical aspects will be explained followed by exercises and simulations which increase in complexity. Furthermore, they will engage with diplomats, experts and organisations from the field.
Students will gain a better understanding of how the world of International Diplomacy and Negotiation works, as well as a better understanding of their own behaviour and that of others. Creating awareness of processes, people, perceptions, preferences and power.

Admission requirements:

This course is an (extracurricular) Honours Class: an elective course within the Honours College programme. Third year students who don’t participate in the Honours College, have the opportunity to apply for a Bachelor Honours Class. Students will be selected based on i.a. their motivation and average grade.


The course is extensive, however the rational is simple. Negotiation is a skill which needs to be practiced. Therefore, students will actively engage with the theoretical material in several ways, through exercises, simulations, case studies and video reviews.

During the first weekend students get a thorough introduction to the topic specific to their year. Each year the simulation and subject of the Young Diplomat Conference changes, ensuring that the subjects discussed are socially relevant issues fitting the context of current developments. The opening weekend will welcome experts and practitioners from the field, while at the same time introducing the students to the simulation, their role and any other specific relevant information.

Each seminar will high light certain aspects of international negotiation and as students progress the exercises during the seminars will become more complex and challenging. As they learn about the theoretical aspects on international negotiation, they apply it directly and train their skills during the exercises.

During the final weekend students will partake in the Young Diplomat Conference. Here students will have to apply the skills and knowledge they have gained throughout the course in a two day simulation. Each body will have a professional from the Young Diplomat to make observations about the performance of the students which will serve as input to the reflection. During the course students will need to do research on the position of their actor (through desk research but also by contacting and meeting with the actual Embassy of their actor in the Hague). They will submit their position statement to the course lecturers who will provide it with feedback. The position statements will also be distributed among all other participants. Students will have to submit a final position statement with a negotiation strategy as part of their final assignment.

During the weeks of the course students will go on field trips within the Hague to the International Criminal Court, the Peace Palace, embassies, and during the Young Diplomat Conference attend a formal dinner.

By applying for this class you confirm that you are physically available on all the dates of the class, which also includes two weekends and 5 Saturdays. You will also attend all the meetings with the NGOs, diplomats and will visit the Peace Palace.

Course objectives:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  • have a better understanding of the relationship and inner workings of supranational and intergovernmental organizations as well as among government, science and society;

  • have gained valuable skills on bilateral and multilateral negotiation skills, as well as on personal leadership and public speaking;

  • applying skills and theoretical knowledge through different simulations varying in complexity, while also applying knowledge to case studies;

  • have a better understanding of international political and diplomatic negotiation;

  • learn how to manage complexity, their own emotions and representing interests, while dealing with those of others;

  • have a better understanding of their own behavior and that of their fellow students/negotiators;

  • have gained analysis and research skills in relation to international political and diplomatic negotiation;

  • have gained a network of NGOs for potential internships and career opportunities;

  • have gained insights into the reality of working in international politics and diplomacy.

Programme and timetable:

The meetings of this class will take place on the following dates:

February 10 13.00 – 17.00: Opening, introduction to the topic of the Young Diplomat Conference and first lecture.
February 11 13.00 – 17.00: Lectures on the theme and other events in relation to the simulation and topic of the Young Diplomat Conference.
February 17 and 24, March 2, 9 and 16 10.00 – 12.00 (60 minute lunch break) 13.00 – 15.00 lecture by H.B. van den Berg, MSc and dr. P.W. Meerts.
March 23 and 24 9.30 – 17.30 final simulation of the Young Diplomat.


Week 6:
10th of February 13.00 – 17.00:
Students will be welcomed and be given an introduction on the topic of the Young Diplomat Conference followed by a related lecture.
11th of February 13.00 – 17.00:
The weekend continues with lectures on the theme and other events in relation to the simulation and topic of the Young Diplomat Conference.

Week 7:
17th of February 10.00 – 12.00 and 13.00 – 15.00:
In the first session students will be introduced to the topic of International Negotiation. This will give them a basic understanding of the important elements and process of International Political Negotiation. The students will engage and work together in an exercise highlighting important elements of negotiation such as trust and collaboration.

Week 8:
24th of February 10.00 – 12.00 and 13.00 – 15.00:
In the second session students will learn more about strategy and tactics within negotiation. This will immediately highlight the elements of chairing. Each negotiator and diplomat will need to prepare properly for their negotiations, after all failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Negotiations and international political conferences can be a hot bed for tensions. Therefore, they need smart and tailormade strategies and tactics. Besides this, students will explore the important elements of chairing. A chair can have significant influence over the process and outcomes of negotiations. While on the other hand can find her-/himself excluded from any affairs by a single mistake. In the second half of this session students will reflect on characteristics of a chair, the importance of procedure, tips and tricks, and different styles of chairing.

Week 9:
2nd of March 10.00 – 12.00 and 13.00 – 15.00:
In the third session students will get an introduction on the history and development of negotiation and diplomacy throughout the years. Students will engage in exercises on distributive (win/lose) and integrative (win/win) bargaining. In the second half they will engage with Trilateral and Minilateral Bargaining. The process of negotiation between more than two parties and the impact of internal and external processes will be studied and practiced. They will engage in a negotiation between five member states of the European Union concerning a crisis in the Mediterranean.

Week 10:
9th of March 10.00 – 12.00 and 13.00 – 15.00:
The fourth session will start with a focus on Negotiation behaviour. Several models and exercises will serve to enhance the understanding and management of negotiation behaviour and its effectiveness. After all, bargaining and negotiation are not only about interest, but very much about personalities, their ego, etc. This is true for diplomats, but probably even more for politicians. The module starts with a discussion of chapter IV of ‘Diplomatic Negotiation’ and a discussion on the issue of the skilled negotiator. In the afternoon students will get started on a simulation for conference diplomacy. In order to get a better understanding of multilateral complexity, students will negotiate and draft a resolution on the creation of the United Nations Disaster Relief Organization (UNDRO) in the context of the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in Geneva. This session is the preparatory phase. After the break a plenary session with short statements followed by exploration of the draft resolution will be the official starting point of the conference, followed by a first round of formal and informal consultations.

Week 11:
16th of March 10.00 – 12.00 and 13.00 – 15.00:
In this final session the negotiations of the previous session will be finalized. An ECOSOC Resolution on the coordination in cases of natural disasters will be drafted and debriefed. In parallel sessions each member of the ten delegations (including the presidency) will be involved in a process of drafting a single text under consensus rule. After the break there will be debriefings with reflections on the performance of the students and as groups. The session will be concluded by a film of the drafting process as it happened in reality, followed by a reflection on the course so far by discussing the article of Lempereur and Colson.

Week 12:.
23rd of March 09.30 – 17.30:
The first day of the Young Diplomat Conference. The international bodies in which the students will act are the UN Security Council, NATO or the EU Heads of Government. Some actors will be represented in all bodies, while others will not. In all situations students will have to coordinate their actions and approach across the bodies, and if they have no representation in one or two of the other bodies work with allies to ensure their interests are served. Students will start negotiations on the topic of the conference and will have to coordinate with their fellow delegates and allies across different bodies. The goal is to have a final resolution or statement by the end of the weekend. Each body will have a professional from the Young Diplomat to make observations about the performance of the students serve as input to the reflection.
19.00 – 22.00:
Dinner an event location in the Hague. The dinner serves several purposes 1) during dinner, as during real life negotiation and diplomatic conferences lobbying continues and deals are struck; 2) an introductory course on etiquette will be provided; 3) this is the final weekend of the course, a moment for students to bond and build connections among each other.

24th of March 09.30 – 15.00:
After a first day at the conference students are expected to come to a final outcome with either a statement or resolution. Again, each body will have a professional from the Young Diplomat to make observations about the performance of the students serve as input to the reflection.
15.30 – 17.30:
After the conference has concluded a break is taken. During the first part of the reflection each body will reflect, with the Young Diplomat professional, on their performance. After this reflection the group will come together, review the outcome of the conference and in general reflect on the performance across the different bodies.

During the weeks the students will engage in the following visits. The exact moments depend on the availability of the institutions.

  • A visit will be made to the International Criminal Court in the Hague where students will receive a guided tour and presentation on the workings of the court. The International Criminal Court is the only international tribunal which can rule on international crimes based on the Rome statute. This visit will high light the importance of the court in international relations and politics and what the consequences are in relation to which states are and are not signatory to the Rome statute.

  • A visit will be made to the Peace Palace where the students will receive a guided tour. The Peace Palace is an active court and plays an important role in international relations, law and negotiations.

  • Students will pay a visit to an embassy situated in the Hague which will offer them the opportunity to meet in a small setting with a diplomat to ask questions about her/his work and the field.

Wijnhaven, The Hague

Reading list:

The students will have to read:

  • ‘Diplomatic negotiation, Essence and Evolution’. This book will be – electronically - made available for free.

  • ‘International Diplomacy’ by the Young Diplomat. This book will be – electronically – made available for free.

  • ‘The UN, A Suitbale Place for Disaster?’, Kent, R.

Other academic literature relevant to the course will be announced in class or via Brightspace.

Course load and teaching method:

This course is worth 5 ECTS, which means the total course load equals 140 hours.

Contact hours: 48
Self-study: 92

  • 8 hours spread over February 10 and 11 on case study and presentation;

  • 24 hours over 6 seminars of 4 hours each;

  • 16 hours on the final simulation of the Young Diplomat;

  • 20 hours on the group essay of the case study assignment;

  • 20 hours on the concept position paper final simulation and final position paper and negotiation strategy;

  • 52 hours studying relevant literature.

Assessment methods:

The assessment is made up out of two assignments in essay form:

Position statement and negotiation strategy (50% of the final grade): In the weekend of 26th and 27th of March students will take part in a two day simulation. Small groups of students (2-6) and will represent an actor (state, organisation or other). The students will write a statement on the position of the actor they represent in relation to the topic of the simulation. Groups will have to finalise their position statement and exchange it with all other groups no later than the 4th of March 2022. Building on their own position and the position statements of the other actors, groups finalise their position statement for simulation and develop a negotiation strategy. This is due on the 25th of March 2022. Total word count of 1500 words (with a 10% margin).

Case study (50% of the final grade): Students will have to pick a current or historical negotiation situation and analyse it. Here students will have to pick a specific piece of theory which they will use to analyse a real life situation and make sense of it. They are expected to provide a short literature overview of the theory they will use in the analysis, a summary of the case, and finally their analysis with potential recommendations. This is due on the 1st of April 2022. Total word count of 2000 words (with a 10% margin).

Both assignments need to have a sufficient (5.5) grade or higher to pass the course. The final grade for the course is calculated by the average of the grades of the two assignments.

The final grade will be reduced with 0.5 point of the grade for every missed lecture or participation on both the case study weekend or the final simulation of the Young Diplomat. The total reduction of the grade can therefore reach a maximum of 5.0 (6 lectures, 2 days of the opening conference and 2 days of the Young Diplomat final simulation).

Brightspace and uSis:

Brightspace will be used in this course. Upon admission students will be enrolled in Brightspace by the teaching administration.

Please note: students are not required to register through uSis for the Bachelor Honours Classes. Your registration will be done centrally.

Application process:

Submitting an application for this course is possible from Monday 30 October up to and including Sunday 19 November 2023 23:59 through the link on the Honours Academy student website.

Note: students don’t have to register for the Bachelor Honours Classes in uSis. The registration is done centrally before the start of the class.

Organiser and Teacher: