International Relations Role-Play:

Arms Control on Cobia


P. Terrance Hopmann

Multi-issue arms control negotiation among representatives of eight fictional countries


Please note: you must order a copy (a.k.a. license/usage fee) for every person participating in the simulation in your course. This simulation has multiple roles, so you will be unable to complete your purchase without meeting the minimum quantity requirement of copies per role.

Read more.

PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center

Close window

Soft copy vs. hard copy

You may order this role simulation in either soft copy (electronic) or hard copy (paper) format. If you select the soft copy option, you will receive an e-mail with a URL (website address) from which you may download an electronic file in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. You will have one week to download your materials from when you receive the email. You are then only authorized to use, print, or share the materials as many times as the number of copies you purchase. The TNRC charges for use of this simulation on a per-participant basis. Therefore, you must purchase a separate copy of this simulation for each person who will be participating, regardless of the number of roles in the simulation. You will only receive a link to one electronic file, which includes all general instructions, confidential instructions, and any teaching notes for the simulation. You should separate out the instructions before distributing to participants.

If you select the hard copy option, you will receive paper copies of this role simulation via the shipping method you select.

For additional information about the soft copy option, please visit our FAQ section, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at or 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.) or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.).

Please note: At the present time, Teaching Negotiation Resource Center soft copies are compatible with the following versions of the Adobe Acrobat Reader: English, German, French, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese, Japanese, and Korean. If you have a different version of the Acrobat Reader, you may wish to download one of these at, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at, 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.), or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.) for further assistance. This restriction does not apply to the freely available Teacher’s Package Review Copies.

Ordering a single copy for review

If you wish to review the materials for a particular role simulation to decide whether you’d like to use it, a PDF, or soft copy, version of the Teacher’s Package for the simulation is available as a free download from the description page of most role simulations and case studies. All Teacher’s Packages include copies of all participant materials. In addition, some Teacher’s Packages (but not all) include additional teaching materials such as teaching notes or overhead masters.

Ordering copies for multiple participants

To order multiple copies of a role simulation for use in a course or workshop, simply enter the total number of participants in the box next to “Quantity.” There is no need to calculate how many of each role is required.

If you are ordering hard copies, the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center will calculate the appropriate numbers of each role to provide, based on the total number of participants. For example, if you wish to order a 2-party role simulation for use with a class of 30 students, you would enter “30” in the box next to “Quantity.” You then would receive 15 copies of one role and 15 copies of the other role, for use with your 30 participants. As another example, if you ordered 30 participant copies of a 6-party role simulation, you would receive 5 copies of each role.

In the event that the number of participant copies you order is not evenly divisible by the number of roles in the simulation, you will receive extra copies of one or more roles. Participants receiving the extra roles may partner with other participants playing the same role, thus negotiating as a team. So, for instance, if you ordered 31 copies of a 2-party role simulation, you would receive 15 copies of the first role and 16 copies of the second role. One of the participants playing the second role would partner with another participant playing that same role, and the two would negotiate as a team.

Bulk Pricing Discount

For bulk orders, we offer the following pricing discounts. Please note that these only apply to bulk orders of the same simulation.

  • Between 100-250 copies – 10% discount
  • Between 251-500 copies – 25% discount
  • More than 500 copies – 50% discount
Log In or Register to download the free Teacher's Package Sample.


The negotiation is set on the fictitious continent of Cobia, composed of eight countries. A race has developed on this continent between the two major countries, Algo and Omne, as well as Algo's smaller ally, Utro, for the development of a new chemical weapon, PS-182M. Furthermore, both major powers are racing to develop means to deliver this chemical weapon against the other by air, to overcome a natural barrier between them in the Smokey Mountains. There is great concern on the continent both about the dangers of conflict between the opposing alliances using this weapon, as well as about the environmental consequences of its use for the three nonaligned states on the continent. Therefore, the International Arms Control Conference has been called in St. Anton, capital of nonaligned Ingo, to try to negotiate a ban on this weapon, or at least its testing, as well as other related issues. During the course of the negotiations "news bulletins" may be issued changing the international environment within which the negotiations are taking place, either by the outbreak of a major crisis among the participants or by the attainment of a major agreement resolving other outstanding disputes only indirectly related to the content of this negotiation.



This issue is negotiated in one conference room where all eight countries (and perhaps a Secretary-General) are seated around a single table. If possible record the negotiations. In addition, the negotiators need to be able to consult with their Foreign Minister (normally played by the instructor or teaching assistants) in a nearby consultation room. The negotiation normally lasts three hours, and it is desirable to have at least a half-hour for preparation prior to the actual opening of the negotiation and another half-hour for debriefing. Therefore, it is best run in a block of four hours, though this can be modified by one hour in either direction without serious consequences.



For all parties:

  • Description of the issues under negotiation
  • Description of each of the countries of Cobia
  • General Instructions
  • Joint Memorandum
  • Map of Cobia
  • New Bulletins


Role specific:

  • Representatives of the Republic of Ingo
  • Representative of the Kingdom of Exton
  • Representative of the Kingdom of Carta
  • Representative of the Republic of Omne
  • Representative of the Principality of Sarto
  • Representative of the Kingdom of Algo
  • Representative of the Republic of Utro
  • Representative of the Federated States of Bata
  • Secretary-General


Teacher's package (48 pages total):

  • All of the above
  • Teaching Note
  • Suggested Readings



  • This is a complex, multi-issue, multi-party negotiation that requires considerable problem-solving for the negotiators to arrive at agreement. Since some issues turn out to be non-negotiable, the negotiator's ability to disaggregate (or fractionate) the issues is critical to their success.
  • In order to avoid unnecessary frustration at trying to reach agreement on non-negotiable issues, clear commitments by the major parties about their BATNA's tends to facilitate negotiating success.
  • The existence of the Foreign Minister who issues negotiating instructions means that all negotiators must be responsible to a domestic constituency, which places limits on their latitude to negotiate freely. Negotiators must thus learn to negotiate in a constrained environment, and to negotiate equally effectively with the Foreign Minister as well as with the other parties to the negotiation.
  • The assumption by the nonaligned states of active roles as mediators between the two competing alliances tends to contribute to an ability to reach successful agreements. Furthermore, the ability of the nonaligned to maintain a position of perceived neutrality is crucial to their playing this mediating role effectively.
  • Implications for several "real world" international analogues may be discussed by the instructor as part of the debriefing; suggestions along this line are contained in the Instructor's Manual.





Agenda control; BATNA; Caucusing; Coalitions; Commitments; Communication; Competition v. Cooperation; Currently perceived choice analysis; Enforcement and verification of agreement; Formula-detail negotiation; Fractionation; Group process; Integrative bargaining; Issue control; Joint gains; Managing uncertainty; Mediation; Political constraints (dealing with); Power imbalance; Pressure tactics; Risk perception; Systems of negotiation; Trust; Yesable propositions

Arms Control on Cobia Attributes

Time required: 3-5 hours
Number of participants: 10
Teams involved: Yes
Agent present: Non-lawyer
Neutral third party present: Mediator
Scoreable: No
Teaching notes available: Yes