Forty enthusiastic and promising young Dutch diplomats and international policy officers have completed the first six weeks of their international relations training at the Clingendael Institute to prepare them for their future careers. They have continued a decades-long tradition of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to prepare their incoming diplomats for their work in international affairs and within their ministry. The group consisted of 32 fresh starting diplomats from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and eight colleagues from various Dutch ministries who focus on international policy within their ministry.
However, this edition was different from previous ones at Clingendael. When COVID-19 reached the Netherlands in mid-March, we were asked to transform our ‘physical’ training courses into a digital format. After the onboarding week from the AIB from the MFA, Clingendael opened the International Relations Track on the 28th of April with a special guest: former NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. In six weeks, participants gained more insight in international relations topics through various live webinars, panel discussions, live simulations, pre-recorded videos and interviews and self-study materials made available by intensive co-operation with a broad array of trainers and experts.
Diplomatic skills of the 21st century
While the group missed the opportunity of physically interacting at the Institute, they were the first batch of Dutch diplomats to develop and enhance their online diplomatic skills. These included online debating, e-negotiation, e-intercultural communication and cyber skills. To prepare them even better for their career in modern diplomacy, and to become a true digital diplomat, all their skills culminated within an 8-hour-long online EU's Foreign Affairs Council negotiation simulation. For the curious, yes, they reached an agreement at the end. The flexibility, innovative minds and of course patience of our participants made this online programme a great success.
In October, the diplomats and colleagues of other Dutch ministries will return to Clingendael for another two weeks of training. This part of the training will focus on deepening several essential diplomatic skills, reflect on the experiences at the working place and to have exchanges with international organizations.