International Relations and Treaty Negotiation

Disputes within and disputes among countries require applied negotiation and dispute resolution skills, not just negotiation analysis capabilities. Bilateral negotiations (over trade, shared borders, migration, and more) are complex, but treaty negotiations involving all nations and territories require an additional set of diplomatic skills.

The Mercury Negotiation Simulation, Global Management of Organo-Chlorines, and Managing the Micronium Mess are three different global treaty negotiations. All three each about treaty negotiation, but each emphasizes a slightly different focus. The Global Management of Organochlorines exercise draws attention to the role that non-governmental actors and agencies are or aren’t allowed to play in treaty-negotiations among nations. The Mercury Negotiation Simulation mimics an actual global treaty-negotiation (i.e. the Minimata Convention on the Global Disposition of Mercury) and highlights the question of the role that science and scientists should have in the detailed work of treaty negotiation. The Managing the Micronium Mess simulation precedes a formal treaty-negotiation and asks how a small number of global organizations (associated with the United Nations) think a complex global problem ought to be addressed — whether (and how) a new treaty might be required.

Camp Lemonnier involves a bi-lateral negotiation between the United States and Djbouti over a possible military base. In the Bepo Dam simulation, international interests are trying to convince an African nation (loosely modeled after Ghana) to take the changing climate more seriously in planning for its long-term (hydro) energy future. Foreign Direct Investment in Mandoa also involves international interests negotiating with a hypothetical country —using their financial investment leverage to get a developing country to balance competing local and international, as well as social, economic and environmental interests in a new way. In the Ship Bumping Case exercise, reminiscent of the Cold War, the United States and Russia are preparing their negotiators to meet in response to a naval incident that neither country is willing to ignore.

In the Tulia and Ibad simulation, two African nations and the Organization for African Unity are trying to negotiate a cease fire between two waring nations. This is a mediation exercise that takes place in the context of an armed conflict. The last simulation, The Abraham Path: A Thousand Miles on Foot, recreates the complex negotiations among an international NGO and four Middle-East base local NGOs regarding the route and branding for a 1,000 mile pathway across Middle East countries with a history of bad relations. The last exercise emphasizes the changing role of non-governmental actors in international relations.

Recommended Simulations

The Mercury Negotiation Simulation

The Mercury Negotiation Simulation by Leah C. Stokes, Lawrence Susskind, and Noelle E. Selin, is a nine or eleven party, three-hour negotiation designed to teach scientists, students, and policy makers how to incorporate scientific information into policymaking in an international diplomatic context. The simulation focuses on the credibility of various sources of technical information, strategies for representing risk and uncertainty, and the balance between scientific and political considerations. The simulation also requires participants to grapple with politics – it explores the dynamic between the global “North” (the developed world) and the global “South” (the developing world) at the heart of most treaty-making difficulties.

Global Management of Organochlorines

Global Management of Organochlorines, by Lawrence Susskind, Sarah McKearnan, Mike Gordon, Adil Najam, Joshua Secunda, Granville Sewell, Parag Shah and Andrea Strimling, is a thirteen-person, five-hour, multi-issue facilitated negotiation among eight country representatives, four NGO representatives, and a working group chairperson who must draft a treaty aimed at reducing harmful organochlorines. Major lessons of this simulation include inventing options for mutual gain, the dynamics of international environmental treaty negotiation, managing the link between internal and external negotiations.

Managing the Micronium Mess

Managing the Micronium Mess, by Megan Diehl and Lawrence Susskind, is a seven-party, eight role, mediated negotiation provides students with the opportunity to negotiate a multi-party agreement regarding a fictitious, potentially harmful substance called “Micronium.” Micronium-based products are an indispensable input into half a dozen important industries, ranging from food production, to medical technologies, to public transportation and cars, and even to housing insulation. However, it is only now becoming clear that careless disposal of Micronium has contaminated soil, freshwater, and ocean resources around the world. National scientific bodies in many countries have formally requested that their government take steps to manage the risks associated with Micronium. Major lessons of this simulation include coalition-building strategies, dealing with spoilers, and understanding the role of the mediator.

Camp Lemonnier

Camp Lemonnier by Monica Giannone and Lara SanPietro, is a two party, three-hour negotiation is between the U.S. Defense Attaché and the Djiboutian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs over the potential lease renewal for a key strategic military base: Camp Lemonnier. Camp Lemonnier is a United States Naval Expeditionary Base located in Djibouti and is the only permanent U.S. military base in Africa. Djibouti, bordering Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, has been home to Camp Lemonnier since the September 11, 2001 attacks prompted the United States to seek a temporary staging ground for U.S. Marines in the region. Since then, Camp Lemonnier has expanded to nearly 500 acres and is a base of unparalleled importance. Major lessons of this simulation include: the importance of understanding BATNA, power dynamics, and the impact of culture in negotiation.

The Bepo Dam Plan

The Bepo Dam Plan by Todd Schenk, David Fairman, David Plumb, Lawrence Susskind, Philip Angell, and Kelly Levin, is an eight party, eight-hour negotiation regarding climate change issues in a situation loosely based on Ghana. This simulation presents the kinds of challenges decision makers are expected to face in the near future in light of climate change based on trends already seen, predictions of what may come and plans already under development.

Foreign Direct Investment in Mandoa

Foreign Direct Investment in Mandoa, by Michèle Ferenz, Stan Byers, David Fairman, and Lawrence Susskind, is a multiparty, three-hour, facilitated negotiation among government officials regarding the design of a foreign direct investment strategy that balances economic, societal, and environmental concerns. The hypothetical nation of Mandoa faces many challenges typical of developing countries today: an economy based largely on the export of agricultural products affected by declining terms of trade, rural poverty leading to mass migration to urban areas, an impending health crisis related to the spread of HIV/AIDS, and environmental deterioration. A large multinational corporation, ACOM, is proposing to invest in two large projects: an aluminum smelting plant located in Mandoa’s capital, Chimbesi, and an inland dam that will provide sufficient energy to the industrial complex as well as other users. Mandoa’s government needs to make a decision as to whether and under what conditions and constraints, if any, it will allow ACOM to operate. This simulation is conducted in groups of seven, including two Ministers of Trade and Industry, two Ministers of the Environment, two Ministers of Social Development, and a Prime Minister who facilitates the discussion and makes the ultimate decision regarding the terms and conditions of any foreign direct investment. Major lessons include consensus-building techniques, the role of the facilitator, and decision-making processes.

Ship Bumping Case

Ship Bumping Case, by Andrew Clarkson, available from the Program on Negotiation, is a two party, three-hour negotiation between Russian and U.S. negotiators over a naval incident. Vessels from the United States Navy equipped for electronic espionage recently entered Russian territorial waters and proceeded to within seven miles of the Russian naval installations at Sevastopol, where they were bumped in order to force them to leave. Both governments now want to engage in negotiations in order to reduce the chance of such scenarios in the future. Major lessons of this simulation include power dynamics, tension between internal and external negotiation, and the impact of relationships in negotiation.

Tulia and Ibad Mediation

Tulia and Ibad Mediation, by William Ury, Ibrahim Ibrahim and Roger Fisher, is a three-team, two-hour, multi-issue mediation involving two or more representatives each of the country of Tulia, the country of Ibad, and the Organization of African Unity (O.A.U.) regarding a cease-fire between the two warring countries. Major lessons of this simulation include agenda control, linkage agreements, and mutually beneficial option generation.

The Abraham Path: A Thousand Miles on Foot

The Abraham Path, by Stefan Szepesi, is a six-party, five-hour, multi-issue, non-scorable negotiation is between the Abraham Path Initiative (API) and local counterpart organizations in the Middle East over an attempt to agree on a public 1,000 mile cross-border trail through the region. The Abraham Path is a cultural route tracing Abraham’s footstep across the present-day Middle East. The path offers hikers the opportunity to engage with the peoples and landscapes of the region firsthand, and to see the region from a new perspective. The path offers an intriguing case of very challenging, long-term negotiations to establish a contiguous route through often-hostile countries; if fully successful, the Abraham Path could have powerful regional implications for economic development, mutual engagement, and peacebuilding. Major lessons of this simulation include coalition formation, managing spoilers, and negotiating core values.

Recommended Books

Roger Fisher, Andrea Kupfer Schneider, Elizabeth Bogwardt and Brian Ganson, Coping with International Conflict: A Systematic Approach to Influence in International Negotiation, Prentice Hall, 1997.

Lawrence Susskind & Saleem Ali, Environmental Diplomacy: Negotiating More Effective Global Agreements (2nd edition), Oxford University Press, 1994.

Guy Olivier Faure and Jeffrey Z. Rubin, Culture and Negotiation, Sage Publications, 1993.

Jacob Bercovitch, Studies in International Mediation, Palgrave MacMillan, 2003.