Dutch junior diplomats set to go
13 Jun 2016 - 12:16
Source: @Clingendael

On 31 May the Clingendael Academy launched a fresh bunch of junior diplomats (also known as ‘het Klasje’ or the Class) into the world of foreign affairs. After three months of intense and vivid training they eagerly hit the ground running. Time to look back at some of the highlights of the programme.

140+ Dutch junior diplomats trained since 2013
This year´s group was the 5th batch that was trained under the current agreement between the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Clingendael Academy. At the end of August a 6th batch will start their training. By September 2016, the Clingendael Academy will have trained over 140 Dutch junior diplomats in ´het klasje´ in just four years.

Something new every day
The programme of ‘het klasje’ consists of an exciting mix of training, exercises, and interactive lectures. One good example of an exercise is when the group had to prepare EU negotiation strategies. In subgroups they studied dossiers like ‘the Dublin regulation’, ‘SRHR’ and ‘Carbon leakage’.

The goal was to analyse the current state of the EU negotiations on the topic and come up with concrete and viable suggestions to defend the Dutch interests in the matter. These suggestions were then presented to the Dutch EU Permanent Representative, Pieter de Gooier. He then provided feedback, drawing from his own extensive experience in Brussels.

Train hard, fight easy
One of the most intense training-days took place in Utrecht, during a visit to the 1CMI-Command, a special unit aimed at bridging the gap between the military and civilians. There, participants received briefings on intercultural communication and civil-military cooperation during missions.

The highlight of the day was when they practiced themselves with intercultural, diplomatic conversation during military missions. In tough-as-nails roleplaying exercises they experienced for themselves how hard it can be to discuss peace with an Afghan tribal chief or to try and find ways of cooperation with a Malinese rebel leader.

Meeting diplomats from all over the globe
The Clingendael Academy does not just train Dutch diplomats. Each year we also welcome about 750 diplomats from other countries for training as well. Whenever possible we like to bring these groups together. During the programme, the Dutch participants met with diplomats from over 35 different countries, including Indonesia, Ghana, and Belgium

Never stop learning
Each year the programme is renewed and tailored to the needs of the participants and the Dutch MFA.  New lessons are drawn from previous experiences each year around. A new addition to this year’s programme was a speed date between current and former participants to the programme.

The meeting aimed to provide current participants more insight into the day-to-day workings of the ministry. Over half of the ‘klasjes’ of 2015 and 2014 (the 2013 batch all works abroad now) answered the call to revisit Clingendael. That so many of them showed up is a testimony to their commitment to their young colleagues and to the Clingendael Academy.

On to the next ‘Klasje’
Saying goodbye to the old ‘klasje’ also means starting with something new. At the end of August, a new group of junior diplomats from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs will walk the halls of Clingendael with the aim of bettering themselves and becoming more effective diplomats. In a tailor made ‘klasje’ (also known as the ‘maatwerkklasje’) the participants will be trained in five weeks. They are offered an even more intense and focused programme.

Are you an international professional or do you want to be, and are you looking for a training just as complete and all-round as ‘het Klasje’ then the ‘Leergang Buitenlandse Betrekkingen’ may be the way to go.