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Multilateral Institutions




Admission Requirements

Similarly tagged 200-level courses. Students that do not meet this prerequisite should contact the instructor regarding the required competencies before course allocation.


This course explores the operation, institutional framework and role of international and multilateral organisations in contemporary world politics. New power structures, the position taken by emerged nations and markets affect the role of and decision-making processes within the multilateral system. The dominant role of “ The West” is being challenged.

The course will focus on the functioning of the United Nations and other established organisations like the European Union, NATO, ASEAN, the African Union and the League of Arab Nations. The course will analyse questions such as: why do states (and other actors) create international organisations in pursuit of their interests? How do international organisations constrain or enable the behaviour of states and other actors in the international arena? When are international organisations effective in achieving their goals? Are they sufficiently accountable? How should and can they adapt to changing power structures and new balances of power? Does the multilateral system still have “teeth” to enforce its decisions when appropriate?

Course Objectives

  • Understand the complexity of the functioning of international organisations

  • Understand the different roles of international organisations on peace, security and development through simulating “real life” negotiations

  • Analyse the different forms of international organisations

  • Apply disciplinary ideas on peace, security and development in the multilateral framework.

  • Find, evaluate and critically read relevant academic literature and other information

  • Report on findings orally and in writing using the appropriate formats

Mode of Instruction

The course is divided into a weekly one-hour plenary lecture followed with one hour of discussion. The second weekly lecture will take the form of a simulation based on a real life case followed by the drafting of a press statement.

The plenary lectures discuss the functioning of the different international institutions. Guest lecturers with practical experience will provide the bridge between theory and practice.

Active participation in class discussions is required. Students will come to all class meetings prepared to discuss the readings, analyse current events in light of the readings and play their part in the simulations. Three questions must be submitted online (via Blackboard) every week to prepare for the plenary lecture.

The simulations will illustrate the ways in which international negotiations take place at different levels and will make students aware of the complexity of reaching an acceptable common position. We expect students to present ”their” nation’s initial positions by posting information on Blackboard a day before class. ### Assessment

To be confirmed in course syllabus:

In-class participation and Blackboard questions: 20%
Presentation during mini simulation: 40%
Final take-home essay (3000 words): 40%


A student manual denoting weekly readings will be posted on blackboard the week before the start of the block. Additional information (PowerPoint presentations, useful websites, etc…) can also be found on blackboard over the course of the block.

Contact Information

Instructor/Seminar leader: Prof. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
Email: j.g.de.hoop.scheffer@cdh.leidenuniv.nl:mailto:j.g.de.hoop.scheffer@cdh.leidenuniv.nl

Assistant: Imane Maghrani
Email: i.maghrani@luc.leidenuniv.nl:mailto:i.maghrani@luc.leidenuniv.nl

Weekly Overview


Preparation for first session