Great Negotiator 2003: Stuart Eizenstat


Edited by James K. Sebenius

Video featuring excerpts from a discussion with Stuart Eizenstat regarding his efforts negotiating reparations for victims of Nazi Germany


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 2003, the Program on Negotiation selected Stuart Eizenstat as the recipient of its Great Negotiator Award.

The former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Under Secretary of Commerce, Under Secretary of State, and Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, Eizenstat was recognized for his landmark efforts to reclaim property and achieve some restitution for victims of Nazi Germany. This complex problem, centered around the millions of dollars of assets and property stolen from forced laborers, Jews, and other victims of the Nazis, was the subject of Eizenstat’s “second job” during six long years of negotiations. Despite the fundamental role Eizenstat played in the achievement of $8 billion of reparations for victims of the Nazis, his description of the process was touched by a profound sense of humility. “I call the work that we did ‘imperfect justice,’ and if that seems a contradiction, it is not one here,” he remarked. “There can be no final accounting, even for those who did recover something. And yet, there was still an accountability, a sense that justice has been done.”

The Program on Negotiation honored Stuart Eizenstat in events on October 1, 2003. These began with an in-depth faculty-moderated discussion with a group of students, faculty, and guests at Harvard Business School. That evening, Eizenstat received the Great Negotiator Award at a formal dinner at Harvard Law School. This DVD features excerpts from the award discussion with Eizenstat.

In the video, Eizenstat speaks from personal experience about issues such as why Holocaust reparations were negotiated 50 years after the fact, the motivations and effects of U.S. involvement in the negotiations, the way in which his own goals and background influenced his involvement, the constraints of his negotiation instructions, the obstacles to agreement, the cultural differences between U.S. and European negotiators, the lessons learned, and possible future applications of these lessons.

A booklet includes a guide to the 16 chapters as well as a complete transcript of the video contents. Used alone or with the Stuart Eizenstat 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 Eizenstat’s negotiations, while the video features Eizenstat’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 video to offer Eizenstat’s own thoughts on the issues discussed in class.


Great Negotiator 2003: Stuart Eizenstat Attributes

Time required:
Teaching notes available:
Produced by:
Program on Negotiation (2004)
Run Time:
40 minutes

PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center

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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.