Undoubtfully, Clingendael Academy in 2020 will be remembered by the significant impact of the COVID-19 crisis on our work. Half of March Clingendael’s building needed to be closed, foreign groups were sent home and all the planned in-person projects were cancelled.

In just two months Clingendael Academy showed it's resilience by transforming to the digital world. New online educational tools were created and our training staff trained to teach in an online format. Most importantly, the interactive character and practical impact of our training methods were preserved. This process was successful and even led to innovation on a scale we have never seen before. We are proud of our team to make this transition possible.

Online work also means less costs for travel and accommodation, but the trainings themselves became more labour intensive. In 2020 our staff grew with 10 people.

In this section of the annual report you will read more in detail about the work of the Academy, categorised in our nine programmes and additional sections on digital developments and information on our open enrolment courses. But it is just a glimpse of our work and our interactive methodologies; the Academy had more than 200 active projects in 2020.

2020 was a challenging year full of change. At the end of the year though, we were more than ever prepared for the (digital) future.

Facts and figures

Clingendael Academy trained about 757 diplomats from 123 countries in 31 different projects in the Netherlands, abroad and online.

Clingendael trainers provided hundreds of training sessions for foreign groups in the fields of diplomatic practice, personal effectiveness, (humanitarian) negotiations, capacity-building, security and conflict resolution. The majority of these sessions were online.

In the context of our international security programmes, we have developed and implemented two entirely new multi-day trainings concerning cyber security and international crisis management.

We conducted an analytical project, including dozens of interviews and a digital survey among alumni on how to improve the support for insider mediation projects and the role of capacity-building. We conducted similar projects for women and youth groups.

We trained, in cooperation with UN women, a group of Libyan women working on increasing the inclusivity of the Libyan peace process. The online format allowed participation of a larger and more diverse group.

We trained 160 diplomats and civil servants from Cyprus in economic diplomacy.

We launched new innovative projects in diplomatic training: global health diplomacy, cyber diplomacy, diplomacy and the humanitarian world, tailor-made training for the corps diplomatique in The Hague and a global online simulation game in international crisis management.

A record number of 70 civil servants from over 20 departments and institutions have been trained across 5 editions of the EU “Insight in Europe” training.

Clingendael signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Indonesia on diplomatic training, a new extension of a strategic partnership since 2004.

Participants awarded our trainings an average score of 4.2 on a scale of 1 to 5.

From left to right H.E. Stef Blok (Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands), Ron Ton (director Clingendael Academy), Yayan Mulyana (director CET) and H.E. Retno Marsudi (Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia) at the signing of the MoU, 10 March 2020, Jakarta.

Online training in 2020

As mentioned we became a fully digital distance learning organisation in a mere two months. We could build on online learning tools we implemented in blended fashion prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At Huys Clingendael, seven studios have been created in former physical classrooms. From these studios, the trainers at the Academy provided over a hundred online trainings on a variety of topics and skills, dedicated to continue educating diplomats, humanitarian aid workers, military staff, etcetera to implement our mission: contributing to a secure, sustainable and just world. While online training has traditionally often been associated with the simple broadcasting of recorded lectures, the digital training programmes the Clingendael Academy produced in 2020 were characterised by their highly interactive character, made possible through the utilisation of innovative tools such as Mentimeter, Miro, Rise and MiBo.

Diplomatic practice

The biggest challenge in our transformation to the digital world was to ensure that the quality of our work would not suffer. Based on the reactions of participants it seems that we have succeeded.

As one participant summarises, turning digital did not affect the quality of diplomatic training: ‘This is a superb programme – dynamic, engaging, interactive and highly relevant and educational (…) delivered virtually in a format that was vibrant and entertaining. (…) I do not feel that the quality of the course was in any way compromised by the modality of distance learning, even though I was only virtually connected to Dutch culture and institutions.’

In 2020, Clingendael Academy developed new training modules covering topical and important areas, such as cyber diplomacy, global health diplomacy, diplomacy and the humanitarian world, and economic diplomacy. We also organised preparation for EU presidency workshops for diplomats from Slovenia and Portugal, and we developed new training materials (such as a global diplomacy simulation; a crisis simulation or a simulation on access to vaccines). Last but not least, 2020 saw a surge in activities for our alumni, including the provision of interactive webinars on current challenges affecting diplomatic work.

Example of a Miro white board used for Global health diplomacy workshop.

We also continued with our annual programme for the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2020, 40 Dutch diplomats completed their induction training into the world of international affairs. The training offered key knowledge and skills related to international policy themes and diplomatic practice, helping them on their way to start operating effectively in their postings at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other ministries.

International Security

Innovation and development are the key elements that illustrate the International Security related programmes in 2020. We have developed our capacity to deliver international cyber security trainings and modules. Currently, the Clingendael Academy can organise multi-day cyber trainings for security, diplomatic and public professionals. Through simulations, tactical challenges and analytical assignments the participants get to encounter various cyber threats and cyber governance dilemmas.

In 2020, we continued to deliver our international security trainings for dedicated audiences such as the trainees of the Dutch Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the Security Affairs department of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). In these trainings, the participants receive the latest insights regarding international security developments and acquire unique Clingendael strategic analysis techniques and skills.

The four distinct security training categories of the Clingendael Academy.

We have expanded and enhanced our crisis management trainings. Through interactive online simulations, we challenge professionals to manage crises at both the operational and strategic level. Training audiences in our crisis management modules have included the Advanced Staff and Command Course of the Dutch MOD, Georgian security personnel and diplomats from Sub-Sahara Africa.

Lastly, the Clingendael Academy has provided five pre-deployment trainings for military and civilian experts that are about to be deployed in international crisis management missions. The Clingendael Academy became an active member of the European Union Civilian Training Initiative (EUCTI) and the European Union Police and Civilian Services Training (EUPCST), integrating our activities in a wide network of European academies and training centres regarding peacekeeping and crisis management missions.

Trained experts before deployment in ICM missions 2020
Trained experts before deployment in ICM missions 2020

Negotiation and mediation in conflict resolution

In 2020 we continued to deliver negotiation and mediation training to peace negotiators, mediators and mediation support staff from around the world. Through interactive simulations and exercises participants sharpen their conflict resolution skills and expand their toolbox to effectively respond to changing dynamics. The trainings not only deepen the participants’ understanding of negotiation and mediation processes, but also give them the analytical tools to make conscious choices that help them move forward. Participants have reported they feel confident they can participate effectively in their processes after having followed our training, and many have gone on to do so.

Our work in 2020 in numbers
Our work in 2020 in numbers

For more impact results of our trainings, please consult our new impact map.

The transition from physical to online trainings due to COVID-19 has led us to develop innovative training programmes, exercises and case studies that are suitable for the online environment. We also developed specific trainings on e-mediation and e-negotiation to equip practitioners to continue their work online.

IM strategic choice framework

Finally, we conducted several studies to assess how our trainings can further enhance the effectiveness of youth, women and insider mediators active in peace negotiations and mediation processes. Based on the needs identified, we will develop new tools and materials to support their important work.

Our project was extended until 1 July 2022.

European Affairs

In 2020, EU trainings by the Clingendael Academy took another leap forward, with our EU trainers providing sessions and lectures to hundreds of diplomats, civil servants, NGOs and private sector professionals. The “Insight in Europe” training, our four-day expert course open to all levels of national government, had its most successful year so far with 90 participants across 5 editions.

Our trainers developed a range of EU e-learnings and digital learning tools that will be used for years to come. Additionally, several all-new training programmes were developed for local governments, trainee groups and diplomats from regional cooperation bodies such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the African Union (AU). Additionally, we once more provided trainings to groups of diplomats and civil servants in the run-up to their presidency of the Council of the EU. In 2020, both Portugal and Slovenia were trained with over 200 and 50 participants, respectively.

Humanitarian negotiations

2020 was the final year of the four-year project period on humanitarian negotiation. We saw all elements of the project come together. Long-term partnerships with several large humanitarian organisations meant we could work closely with central staff on analysing internal capacity at field level. An in-depth research into the working practices around humanitarian diplomacy – both from diplomats and aid workers – laid the foundation for future training that aims to improve collaboration between these sectors. We delivered innovative new training courses on e-negotiations and e-mediation which were well-received by aid workers and mediators suddenly finding themselves working exclusively online. Alumni from our Training of Trainers in 2019 also delivered their own training to their colleagues in the field.

Results at a glance

After four years, we compiled all impact data (based on feedback from participants of our course). We can see a wide range of impact, particularly an increase in the importance attached to negotiation skills training at organisational level, and improved understanding between negotiating counterparts.

Institutional development

In 2020, Clingendael Academy continued to invest in the development of partner training institutes, from the strategic to the practical level.

With Georgia’s Defence Institution Building School (DIBS), we worked on linking research and training, integrating best practices in learning and knowledge management, and formulating a new vision for 2025. Clingendael also supplemented DIBS’ own course package with online workshops on intercultural communication, cyber security, and NATO and EU decision-making in crisis situations. DIBS’ growth into a fully autonomous, professional training institute was confirmed with its first NATO course accreditation.

Institutional cooperation on preventing violations of international obligations against torture (UNCAT) was continued by developing online training guides, as the board in Vietnam finalised the central curriculum.

Clingendael supported many other worldwide partners in diplomatic training. We continued working with our strategic partners in Jakarta (CET), helped the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus in developing its economic diplomacy strategy and worked with partners building up expertise in diplomatic training in Afghanistan and Kosovo.

Personal effectiveness

We provided hundreds of personal effectiveness trainings throughout all Academy projects, such as negotiation, intercultural communication, presentation skills and effective influencing.

Clingendael Academy staff also provided stand-alone training sessions focusing specifically on one or two skills, including successful editions of our open enrolment courses on negotiation, mediation and consensus building, and intercultural communication. Highlights furthermore included the negotiation training conducted within the European Diplomatic Programme (EDP) and training sessions for the Repatriation and Departure Service (DT&V) and one with the International Organization for Migration (IOM). We also worked with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) on an Insider Mediation project in the East of Congo linked to a disarmament project. We are also proud of our cooperation with UN Women to support a group of women from Libya to enhance their participation in the Libyan peace process.

Economic and sustainable development

This year, participants from around the globe logged in to Clingendael Academy to train and discuss sustainable economic development during and after COVID-19. We developed new five-day economic diplomacy workshops, mixing trade promotion, innovation and branding, using online platforms for interactive exchanges and reaching larger audiences. We trained groups from Cyprus (160 participants), Indonesia (100 participants), Ukraine (25 participants), North Macedonia (15 participants) and Ethiopia (80 participants). Finally, we provided tailored programmes on Blue Diplomacy and for Dutch agricultural attachés.

Strategic thinking

Clingendael Academy offers training in strategic planning tools, allowing professionals to anticipate as much as possible international developments. We provide standalone trainings and incompany tools in different types of programmes.

In 2020, we trained multiple groups in strategic policy planning, such as senior policy officers from Indonesia and Afghanistan. Additionally, the scenario planning tool has become more prominently incorporated in trainings with a wider thematic focus.

Example of a Miro board used in scenario planning.

Open enrolment courses

Most of the work of the Clingendael Academy is tailor-made. Each year we also offer a number of open enrolment courses on different aspects of our work, such as EU Affairs, international security and personal effectiveness. Most of the training courses offered saw increased participation in 2020. The online environment allowed more people to join from more places. We therefore made plans to increase the number of courses by including online versions also after the COVID-19 pandemic. We also prepared new courses to be offered in 2021/2022, for example in cyber security.