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International Relations: on diplomacy and negotiations


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

Topics/Disciplines: multilateral negotiation, simulation, The Hague Peace Conference Simulation, diplomacy
Skills: (multilateral) negotiation, reflection on process and relations, analytical skills

Students will learn how to use international and EU negotiations as an instrument in politics and diplomacy. This will be done by a combination of lectures, exercises and debriefings. This makes the course learning by doing. The aim is to help students to get a better understanding of their own behaviour, thereby creating awareness about processes, people, perceptions, preferences and power.
The students will start with the Hague Peace Conference Simulation which will be an opportunity to experience before the start of the lectures with their negotiation style. The warming up simulation will be done with 50-60 students and will take a full weekend.

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.


In 1899 and 1907 two international conferences – The International Hague Peace Conferences – took place with the aim to promote disarmament and peace. Unfortunately they did not prevent The Great War from 1914-1918. Despite the fact that the aims were not met at that time, the conferences are usually seen as the start of international cooperation in promoting and regulating disarmament and peace. Later on the cooperation resulted in the establishment of bodies like the United Nations.

Including interactive lectures and The Hague Peace Conference Simulation, this course is about understanding and handling international and EU negotiation processes, applying simulation- and other exercises in order to get to grips with theory and practice of handling disputes between people, companies, ministries and countries, resulting in organizational changes and the resolution of conflicts in a national and international context.

Lectures will be attended by 55 students in total, including 40 students of Tackling Global Challenges and 15 students from the Honours Class.

The group will warm up with The Hague Peace Conference Simulation that will take place in the weekend of May 1st and 2nd.

After the warming up conference, moderated by students and the owner of Young Diplomats, the lectures of Paul Meerts start on Saturday 8/May/2021 with an introduction of the subject matter, followed by an exercise to define it. After this bilateral bargaining will be practiced and debriefed. The second Saturday afternoon will focus on strategy and tactics, skills and styles, culture and conflict, interest and emotion. At the third Saturday afternoon multilateral negotiation (UN) will be practiced as a preparation for The Hague Peace Conference Simulation on Saturday. The Saturday after The Peace Conference will be the concluding session for this part of the course, in which both the UN multilateral and the peace conference will be discussed, debriefed and analysed. This includes a film of a real diplomatic negotiation process.

Course objectives:

Students will learn how to prepare, navigate and conclude complex and complicated processes. They do so by getting acquainted with the difficulties supranational and intergovernmental organizations face in getting their interests in-line: the problem of managing complexity. Moreover they will learn about the tension between competition and cooperation in the in-between models and reflect on their own behavior. You will not only analyze the procedures followed in The Hague Peace Conference Simulation, but also the process.

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

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

  • Have a better understanding of their own behavior and that of their fellow students/negotiators.

Programme and timetable:

Due to the extended lockdown, this class has been postponed to May/June 2021.
The The Hague Peace Conference Simulation will take place in week 17 on Saturday May 1st and Sunday May 2nd from 12:00-17:00 hrs in Wijnhaven.
The other classes will take place in weeks 18-22 on Saturdays from 13:15-17:30 hrs in Wijnhaven.

Session 1: May 1 (12:00-18:00) - The Hague Peace Conference Simulation
Session 2: May 2 (10:00-18:00) - The Hague Peace Conference Simulation
Session 3: May 8 (13.15-17.30) - special HC Class meeting with Paul Meerts
Session 4: May 15 (13.15-17.30) - introduction to International Negotiation and Bilateral Bargaining
Session 5: May 22 (13.15-17.30) - Multiaparty Bargaining and Mediation
Session 6: May 29 (13.15-17.30) - Multilateral negotiation
Session 7: June 5 (13.15-17.30) - Conference Diplomacy


The Hague Peace Conference Simulation: Wijnhaven
Lecturers Paul Meerts: Living Lab

Please note: due to the nature of this course, this Bachelor Honours Class cannot be taught online. It is therefore only possible to partake in this class if you are able to join the sessions at the campus in The Hague. Of course all COVID-19 related precautionary measures will be taken to ensure a safe and healthy environment.

Reading list:

The students will have to read ‘Diplomatic negotiation, Essence and Evolution. This book will be – electronically - made available for free.

Other academic literature 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:

  • Introduction meeting of one hour with the teacher and the students of the Honours Academy class

  • Seminars: five seminars of five hours each (participation is mandatory)

  • Preparation seminars and workgroups for The Hague Peace Conference and participation in The Conference (mandatory)

  • Literature reading

  • Final paper

Assessment methods:

  • 100% final paper

The final grade will be reduced with 1.0 point of the grade for every missed lecture. If the student does not participate in The Hague Peace Conference Simulation (either on Saturday or Sunday) the final grade will be reduced by another 1.0 point. The total reduction of the grade can therefore reach a maximum of 5.0 (four lectures and one conference).

Brightspace and uSis:

Brightspace will be used in this course. Students can register for the Brightspace module one week prior to the start of the course.

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

Registration process:

UPDATE 29-10
Registration will be possible from Monday 9 November 2020 up to and including Thursday 19 November 2020 23:59 via the registration link on the student website of the Honours Academy.