Humanitarian diplomacy is persuading decision makers and opinion leaders to act at all times in the interests of vulnerable people, and with full respect for fundamental humanitarian principles.
The rapid expansion of the number of humanitarian actors in recent years, working for or with governments at all levels and often in complex situations, makes humanitarian diplomacy increasingly important.
Humanitarian diplomacy aims to mobilise public and governmental support and resources for humanitarian operations and programmes, and to facilitate effective partnerships for responding to the needs of vulnerable people. Humanitarian diplomacy includes advocacy, negotiation, communication, formal agreements, and other measures. It is a field with many players, including governments, international organisations, NGOs, the private sector, and individuals.
The online diploma course in humanitarian diplomacy is offered by the Red Cross Red Crescent Learning Network of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in partnership with DiploFoundation. Course faculty draws on leading experts from around the world, as resource people and guest lecturers.
This course is currently offered in English, however participants who are more comfortable with French will have the option to write and submit some course assignments and the final research paper in French.
You may also read the course brochure.
The online course will extend the knowledge base and develop the practical skills of current and future practitioners in humanitarian diplomacy and policy.
To achieve its objectives, the course will:
- Familiarise participants with basic definitions, concepts, actors, and institutions in the field of humanitarian diplomacy.
- Introduce participants to international humanitarian law, the Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and National Societies’ role as an auxiliary to government.
- Hone the advocacy and negotiation skills of participants.
- Facilitate an international exchange of experiences and knowledge in a safe and supportive online class environment.
- Develop the research skills of participants, and increase their understanding of national and regional humanitarian diplomacy activities.
By the end of this course, participants should be able to:
- Explain clearly the concept of humanitarian diplomacy and provide examples of humanitarian diplomacy in action.
- List and categorise the main actors in the field of humanitarian diplomacy and describe their roles.
- Describe the interplay between relevant international law, including international humanitarian law, and humanitarian diplomacy.
- Analyse the role of advocacy and persuasion in humanitarian diplomacy.
- Organise a humanitarian diplomacy alliance.
- Plan a persuasion campaign, taking into consideration the application of fundamental humanitarian principles.
- Explain how to shape or influence negotiations through an evidence-based approach.
- Describe how different humanitarian diplomacy contexts influence negotiation outcomes.
- Analyse case studies of humanitarian diplomacy, identifying goals, actors, methods, challenges, and implementation.
- Module 0 – Orientation to Online Learning: During this short module, participants will be introduced to the online classroom and tools for communication and interaction that they will use during the course. Participants will also be guided through practice exercises and will have the chance to ask questions and request assistance as needed.
- Module 1 – Introduction to Humanitarian Diplomacy: This module looks at how diplomacy is understood within various definitions of humanitarian diplomacy, making use of the IFRC humanitarian diplomacy policy and its four signposts for action. How has humanitarian diplomacy evolved, and what is the current situation? Why is it relevant today? Who practices humanitarian diplomacy? What is the profile of a humanitarian diplomacy practitioner?
- Module 2 – Humanitarian Diplomacy Toolkit: This is a cognitive toolkit, or a set of thinking tools, to help the humanitarian diplomat navigate through vast amounts of information and fast-changing policy contexts. The toolkit does not contain ready-made solutions. Practically speaking, this cognitive toolkit will help humanitarian diplomats to engage in debate, argue in favour of their positions, persuade interlocutors, and find creative solutions for overcoming stalemates in policy discussions, eventually reaching compromises acceptable to all negotiating parties.
- Module 3 – Humanitarian Diplomacy Actors: This module surveys the evolution of the RCRC Movement and introduces the main characteristics, role and function of the IFRC and National Societies, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). It briefly covers the 1949 Geneva Conventions and other instruments of international humanitarian law. It also introduces the role of other actors, including national governments, international organisations, private entities, and individuals. The module looks at how decisions are made, at national, international, and global levels.
- Module 4 – How Humanitarian Diplomacy is Performed – Persuasion and Advocacy: This module explains the functions and audience for persuasion. It looks at different contexts for persuasion (national, international, local, crisis) and differentiates between public persuasion (similar to advocacy and public diplomacy) and private persuasion. The module guides participants through the organisation of a humanitarian diplomacy alliance.
- Module 5 – How Humanitarian Diplomacy is Performed – Persuasion and Advocacy (practical skills): This module focuses on skills such as framing devices as a practical technique for persuasion, spin tricks in persuasion, use of the media (including social media), speaking, and writing. It guides participants through the steps of organising a persuasion campaign (main phases and approaches) at different levels.
- Module 6 – How Humanitarian Diplomacy is Performed – Negotiations: This module introduces types of negotiations in humanitarian diplomacy, in the multilateral, regional, and national context, as well as in crisis situations. It covers influencing negotiations through decision-shaping (if the humanitarian player does not have a decision-making role) and the evidence base - how to obtain it and maximise its impact.
- Module 7 – Humanitarian Diplomacy Beyond Negotiation: Through examination of case studies, this module looks at using humanitarian diplomacy to ensure implementation of a negotiated outcome.
- Module 8 – Other Practical Skills in Humanitarian Diplomacy: Many practical skills are relevant to humanitarian diplomacy, including protocol, drafting, media training, public speaking, and use of social media. The module also covers resource mobilisation, planning, monitoring, evaluation and reporting, and quality assurance.