Humanitarian negotiation

Negotiating: A necessary skill for humanitarian professionals
Bron: Clingendael Academy
Training type
Training category
Humanitarian negotiation

Humanitarians often find themselves negotiating the non-negotiable. Operating under time pressure and in stressful situations forces them to negotiate from a position of weakness. These characteristics in particular make humanitarian negotiations unique.

Clingendael’s humanitarian negotiation training facility aims to enhance the negotiating capacity of humanitarian workers. The training sessions help humanitarian workers develop a reliable set of skills enabling them to operate clearly, calmly, and decisively under enormously stressful conditions. At the same time, the training serves as a platform where humanitarian workers can exchange dilemmas and learn from each other’s experiences.

Clingendael Academy’s trainings target humanitarian professionals both at headquarters and in the field.

Four-day training courses in The Hague are designed for humanitarian professionals working at headquarters. These participants are regularly exposed to negotiations with a range of stakeholders, such as donors, government officials, and other humanitarian workers.

Role plays allow participants to practise, analyse, and advance their own negotiation skills. At Clingendael, we expose the group to negotiations that closely resemble the work environment of humanitarian professionals. For one simulation, we work with training actors to recreate a crisis situation.

In this scenario, different levels of negotiations are happening simultaneously: in the field (Park Clingendael), at management level, and ongoing internal negotiations between the field team and management team. Using actors makes the simulation both realistic as well as effective. Moreover, the actors are well equipped in providing critical and in depth individual feedback based on the interactions they had throughout the simulation.

As with each exercise we do, the simulation is followed by a debriefing during which participants and trainers/actors exchange key learnings.

On request, a three-day training for field workers can be conducted in the region. Field trainings are tailor-made and take into account the regional context, participants’ level of experience and their specific needs.

Our trainings on humanitarian negotiations contain the following elements:   

  • Framework of humanitarian negotiations
  • Using interests, positions and power for effective negotiation
  • Relationship-building in a particular context
  • Dealing with stress and time pressure
  • Conflict analysis and the different tools that can be used
  • Main challenges and dilemma’s in humanitarian negotiations
  • Communication skills between field workers and management
  • Personal negotiation styles
  • Negotiating with cultural differences