Great Negotiator 2002: Lakhdar Brahimi


James Sebenius and Kristen Schneeman

Video featuring excerpts from a discussion with Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi regarding his international negotiation experiences, including negotiating a new government for Afghanistan in 2002


Each year, the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School presents the Great Negotiator Award to an individual whose lifetime achievements in the field of negotiation and dispute resolution have had a significant and lasting impact. In 2002, the Program on Negotiation selected Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi as the recipient of its Great Negotiator Award.

Ambassador Brahimi is a universally-admired diplomat whose renowned negotiation skills have been tested in the harshest of circumstances. A native of Algeria, he has devoted the greater part of his four-decade career to convincing people to choose peace over war. Highlights of his extraordinary career include mediating the Taif Accord, which paved the way for an end to the Lebanese civil war; heading special United Nations troubleshooting missions to hot-spots such as Afghanistan, Yemen, Liberia, Sudan, Nigeria, South Africa, the former Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo), and Haiti; and overseeing the production of the "Brahimi Report," a comprehensive critique of the efficiency and effectiveness of U.N. peacekeeping missions. In 2002, as the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy to Afghanistan, Ambassador Brahimi took a lead role in orchestrating both the Bonn Conference that set up an interim Afghan government following the fall of the Taliban, and the June 2002 Loya Jirga, the successor negotiations to Bonn.


The Program on Negotiation honored Ambassador Brahimi in events on October 2, 2002. These began with an in-depth faculty-moderated discussion with a group of students, faculty, and guests at Harvard Business School. On the evening of the 2nd, Ambassador Brahimi received the Great Negotiator Award at a formal dinner at Harvard Law School. This DVD features excerpts from the award discussion with Ambassador Brahimi.

On the DVD, Ambassador Brahimi speaks from personal experience about strategies, tactics, and lessons learned as UN Special Envoy to Afghanistan both before and after the fall of the Taliban; and about general negotiation issues such as knowing what is and what isn't negotiable, taking account of outside players in a negotiation, the role of deadlines in negotiation, negotiating with parties together or separately, and knowing when to continue negotiating and when to walk away.

The DVD booklet includes a guide to the 24 DVD tracks as well as a complete transcript of the DVD contents. Used alone or with the Lakhdar Brahimi case study, it provides a wonderful opportunity to teach from recent history, using a living, working diplomat as a focus for learning about negotiation. The case study provides a wealth of factual details regarding Brahimi's negotiations, while the DVD features Brahimi's personal reflections and observations. An instructor might, for instance, use the case study as a basis for classroom discussion, and use excerpts from the DVD to offer Brahimi's own thoughts on the issues discussed in class.

DVD run time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

Great Negotiator 2002: Lakhdar Brahimi Attributes

Time required: Unspecified
Teaching notes available: No
Produced by: Edited by James Sebenius and Kristen SchneemanProgram on Negotiation (2004)
Run Time: 1 Hour & 35 Minutes