Global Negotiation Conference 2020
Negotiating a Peace Agreement in Syria
Hosted Online by the University of Zurich
With the world in the midst of a pandemic, the seventh Global Negotiation Conference moved online. Students joined from the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Iraq, South Korea and Canada, staying up very late or getting up very early, for four days of workshops, presentations and simulations. The conference was hosted by the Chair of Political Philosophy at the University of Zurich, where a small team of organisers gathered, at an appropriate distance, to oversee the running of the event.
The conference program included presentations and workshops from Norbert Berger (University of Graz), Mikkel Gudsoe (University of Aarhus), Nicola Diday (swisspeace), Marie-Joëlle Zahar (Université de Montréal) and Eemeli Isoaho (ETH Zurich). A range of topics were covered including multiparty negotiations, framing and persuading, the politics of dealing with the past, peace mediation and the dynamics of the Syrian conflict. More details on the full program can be found here.
The keynote speech was delivered via webcam by Bertie Ahern, Former Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland. He reflected upon his role in securing the Good Friday Agreement which brought peace to Northern Ireland as well as discussing the challenges of negotiating an end to a conflict. The full address can be watched on YouTube.
Alongside the presentations, the conference included a simulation stretching over three days dealing with negotiation an international peace agreement to the Syrian conflict in the context of the United Nations. Participants were able to both organise their own bilateral meetings as well as deliver press releases through a dedicated online learning platform. Unfortunately, as in reality the parties were unable to secure a joint agreement although a decision was reached to carryout further talks in the future.
After reviewing hours of footage, the judges determined that the team from the University of Saskatchewan to have been the most constructive team while also representing their brief accurately. Individual students from the American University of Kurdistan, University of Graz, London School of Economics and Philipps-Universität Marburg were also commended for their performances.