When well-known philosopher and senior scientist of the Dutch Council for Government policy Haroon Sheikh opened the seven week course on International Relations and Diplomatic Skills, 40 new young Dutch diplomats in training knew that they entered the world of diplomacy in times of changing alliances and geopolitics. The future of the EU, the threats of climate change and the increasing complexity of international security shaped the headlines as the civil servants met over 100 experts and trainers through lectures, debates, expert meetings, interview carrousels and interactive exercises. The seven weeks were organised around seven thematic modules, covering the main policy areas of Dutch foreign policy and included training on those diplomatic skills needed to operate effectively.
Interacting with influential experts and institutions
27 policy officers from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and 13 internationally operating civil servants from the Dutch Ministries of Defence, Justice, Economic Affairs and Climate, Education, Finance, Agriculture, Social Affairs and from the Foreign Directorate of the Island of St Maarten met with, among others, Monika Sie Dhian Ho, the Director of Clingendael Institute, to engage in a debate about the Future of the EU; with Marjan Minnesma from Urgenda to understand the steps after the climate conference in Glasgow, and with policy influencers from True Price on how to better understand the hidden costs of supply chains. The group listened to Lieutenant colonel Dr. Miriam Grandia, who spoke on military diplomacy, and met with six officers from the Dutch Armed Forces to discuss civil-military interaction. They explored Dutch positioning within the Council of the EU and closely examined interest representation in the EU.
They met with humanitarian aid workers to discuss operations on the ground and the impact of diplomatic sanctions on their work. Through interview carrousels and expert meetings they spoke with the Permanent Representative to the United Nations Yoka Brandt who dialled in from New York, and with Sandra Pellegrom, the Netherlands’ national coordinator of the Sustainable Development Goals. They learned how to effectively influence other EU member states from the spokespersons of the Dutch Permanent Representation in Brussels and analysed a wide range of case studies with Embassy staff from across the globe.
Laying the foundation for cooperation
Among themselves, they analysed foundational foreign policy strategy documents, designed a trade mission and negotiated the EU’s maritime and cyber security in a fifteen hour long European Council simulation. They visited Paleis Noordeinde, visited the Dutch 24/7 Consular Service Support Centre in The Hague and travelled to Amsterdam to the Rijksmuseum where they reflected on the importance of returning cultural heritage. A well-received highlight was a visit from the Minister Plenipotentiary of St Maarten who discussed the cooperation between the four autonomous countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands being Sint Maarten, Curacao, Aruba and the Netherlands, specifically: the
Throughout the seven weeks, this group forged strong bonds and a network that will soon spread out among the many policy areas in which The Netherlands operates internationally. We wish them all the best as they settle into their new dossiers and teams. At the Clingendael Academy, we look forward to receiving them again in October, to continue honing their skills to best represent Dutch foreign policy.
The Clingendael Academy is grateful to the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the opportunity to play such an important role in the diplomat’s two year training trajectory. We are also grateful to all speakers and experts who dedicated their time and effort to support the next generation of professionals operating internationally for The Netherlands.