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Explore the origins of multilateral diplomacy and its evolution within a dynamic and rapidly changing environment.

This course introduces participants to the diplomatic interaction among more than two actors, with particular emphasis on the multilateral diplomacy represented by the United Nations system. Participants examine an overview of all protagonists and their roles, as well as the complex framework, intricate rules and methods of multilateral diplomacy. These challenging topics are complemented by insights into the processes leading to the adoption of documents by states within international organisations, as well the current transformations affecting the multilateral system. Using illustrative case studies, the course blends an academic perspective with the experience of current practitioners of multilateral diplomacy.

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Open for applications: 

Yes

Application deadline: 
Certificate: 30 June 2014
Start date: 
21 July 2014
Course code: 
IRL 5013
ECTS credits: 
9
Mode(s) of study: 
Credit - Certificate - Master/PGD

...an intriguing eye-opener to the UN system.

Fitina Khonje
Course participant
Course details

Explore the origins of multilateral diplomacy and its evolution within a dynamic and rapidly changing environment.

This course introduces participants to the diplomatic interaction among more than two actors, with particular emphasis on the multilateral diplomacy represented by the United Nations system. Participants examine an overview of all protagonists and their roles, as well as the complex framework, intricate rules and methods of multilateral diplomacy. These challenging topics are complemented by insights into the processes leading to the adoption of documents by states within international organisations, as well the current transformations affecting the multilateral system. Using illustrative case studies, the course blends an academic perspective with the experience of current practitioners of multilateral diplomacy.

By the end of the course, participants should be able to:

  • Provide an overview of multilateral diplomacy from its origins through to current changes introduced by globalisation and new information and communication technologies.
  • Describe the roles of traditional and new stakeholders with interest and influence in multilateral organisations.
  • Discuss the various forums and forms of multilateral diplomacy, from the formal to the informal, identifying the rules, methods, processes and actors involved in each.
  • Describe the institutional framework within which multilateral diplomacy operates.
  • Provide examples, and analyse how multilateral diplomacy is responding to factors such as political changes, globalisation and the growing influence of the business sector and civil society.

Excerpt from course materials

Why is consensus necessary?

A widespread belief suggests that decisions taken by consensus have greater political force than those that one or more delegations have refused to support. Many governments and delegates dislike the overt confrontation and sense of victory and defeat that voting conveys.

Multilateral meetings are co-operative endeavours and one of their main tasks is to produce and project the assurance of a prevailing collaborative spirit. This spirit is visible if all participants consent to the decision adopted. A more practical interpretation, however, of why consensus is necessary is that on many issues most countries find it possible to accept language with which they are not entirely satisfied, but with which they are not in strong opposition. If called upon to vote on the same proposal or document, they might feel obliged to vote against or signify lack of enthusiasm or the presence of a reservation, by registering an abstention.

Course outline

  1. Origin, evolution, and objectives of multilateral diplomacy: a brief historic preface covering key events that have marked the evolution of multilateral diplomacy. We examine existing intergovernmental organisations created by treaties concluded among member countries, dealing with the increasing number of issues that need international debate, action and regulation.
  2. Actors: sovereign states are still the main protagonists in multilateral diplomacy, but we are currently witnessing the increased involvement of non-state actors, including non-governmental organisations, representatives of civil society and the business community. Both traditional and new actors are discussed.
  3. Framework: we examine the increasingly diverse bodies within which governments and other actors cooperate, while their responsibilities and mandates cover ever more demanding areas and new challenges.
  4. Rules: despite the importance of the full observance of the constitutive acts of various international organisations, including their rules of procedure, multilateral diplomacy embraces constantly new forms of interaction, thus reflecting the need for flexibility and rapid adaptability to a dynamic environment.
  5. Methods: Nowadays only a part of the multilateral diplomatic effort takes place in formal and solemn settings. The interaction among various actors extends to a number of modalities, including informal contacts and spontaneous coalitions of the willing. We look at both formal and informal methods of multilateral diplomacy.
  6. Process: the preparation of diplomatic events is manifold, and depends on the level at which it is undertaken: national or international, formal or informal, on substance or on procedures.
  7. New Developments: We consider the crucial changes which globalisation has introduced into the multilateral context, including the emergence of new stakeholders with interests and resources to influence the behaviour and power of states.
  8. ICT and multilateral diplomacy: the development of new information and communication technologies offers an unprecedented potential for important changes in the traditional ways and means of conducting multilateral diplomacy. The tools, their impact, and implications, are analysed.
Reviews

This course is an intriguing eye-opener to the UN system. I found most interesting the UN decision making process and the traditional as well as emerging techniques of building support in the multilateral fora. I am now more confident and eager to embrace challenges to develop my career.

Fitina Khonje
Officer for Press, Cultural and Development Cooperation, German Embassy in Malawi
September 2012

As someone who is not directly involved in foreign relations, this course was an eye-opener to what Multilateral Diplomacy is and what it is not. Throughout the whole course the interactions with both my colleagues and moderators was always a challenge. I would definitely recommend the course to any one interested in multilateral relations in whatever capacity be it in the public or private sector.

Sibongiseni Mzenze
Legislative Researcher/Deputy Information Officer, South African Revenue Service
June 2007

The course gives the students an excellent insight in the theory and the practice of multiparty negotiations. Many of the course participants are using gained knowledge immediately in their work. This has resulted in high quality debates between students and tutors, all the more since the course coincided with the yearly session of the UN General Assembly. What was taught to us, we immediately were able to use in our daily routine. My general knowledge of international relations has grown significantly, as well as my overview of the diplomatic practices used during high-level negotiations.

Lutine de Boer
Senior Advisor Environmental Policy of city of Alkmaar, The Netherlands
September 2011
Who should apply

This course will be of interest to:

  • Practising diplomats, civil servants, and others working in international relations who want to refresh or expand their knowledge under the guidance of experienced practitioners and academics.
  • Postgraduate students of diplomacy or international relations wishing to study topics not offered through their university programmes or diplomatic academies and to gain deeper insight through interaction with practising diplomats.
  • Postgraduate students or practitioners in other fields seeking an entry point into the world of diplomacy.
  • Journalists, staff of international and non-governmental organisations, translators, business people and others who interact with diplomats and wish to improve their understanding of diplomacy-related topics.
Prerequisites

All course applicants must have regular access to the Internet (dial-up connection is sufficient, although broadband is preferable).

Applicants for certificate courses must have:

  • An undergraduate university degree OR three years of work experience and appropriate professional qualifications in diplomacy or international relations.
  • Sufficient ability in the English language to undertake postgraduate level studies (including reading academic texts, discussing complex concepts with other course participants, and submitting written essay assignments of up to 2500 words in length).

Applicants for accredited courses must meet University of Malta prerequisites:

  • Bachelor's degree in a relevant subject with at least Second Class Honours.
  • Proof of English language proficiency obtained within the last two years (minimum requirements TOEFL: paper-based – 650; Internet-based – 95. IELTS: 6.5. Cambridge: Proficiency Certificate with Grade C or better). If when applying you are still waiting for your English language proficiency results, the University may issue a conditional letter of acceptance.
Fees

Course fees depend on whether you wish to obtain university credit for the course:

  • €790  (University of Malta Accredited Course)
  • €650  (Diplo Certificate Course)

Applicants must pay full fees upon official acceptance into the course. The fee includes:

  • University of Malta application fee (for University of Malta Accredited Courses only)
  • Full tuition
  • Course orientation pack where applicable (optional readings)
  • Access to all course materials online, via Diplo’s online classroom
  • Access, via the Internet, to the University of Malta e-journal collection (University of Malta Accredited Courses only)
  • Personal interaction via the online classroom with course lecturers, staff and other participants
  • Online technical support
  • For Diplo Certificate Courses, postgraduate level certificate issued by DiploFoundation on successful completion of course requirements (interaction and participation, all assignments)

Financial assistance

Discounts are available for more than one participant from the same institution. A limited number of partial scholarships are available for diplomats and others working in international relations from developing countries.

To apply for a scholarship please upload your CV and a motivation letter with your application. The motivation letter should include:

  • Details of your relevant professional and educational background.
  • Reasons for your interest in the course.
  • Why you feel you should have the opportunity to participate in this course: how will your participation benefit you, your institution and/or your country?

As Diplo's ability to offer scholarship support is limited, candidates are strongly encouraged to seek scholarship funding directly from local or international institutions. Our guide to Finding Scholarships for Online Study may provide you with some useful starting points.

How to apply

A number of routes for application are available:


Apply for a Diplo Certificate Course

Applicants for certificate courses should apply online.

If you are applying for financial assistance, please upload your CV and a motivation letter with your application. The motivation letter should include:

  • Details of your relevant professional and educational background.
  • Reasons for your interest in the course.
  • Why you feel you should have the opportunity to participate in this course: how will your participation benefit you, your institution and/or your country?

Please note that financial assistance from DiploFoundation is available only to applicants from developing countries. Late applications will be considered if there are spaces available in the course.


Apply for a University of Malta Accredited Course

Complete application packages must be received by specified application deadlines in order to be considered.

  1. Two copies of the University of Malta application form filled out in full (download form for overseas applicants; download form for applicants with Maltese qualifications).
  2. Certified copies of original degree(s) and official transcripts.
  3. English translations of degree(s) and transcripts if they are not in English, signed and stamped by translator.
  4. English language proficiency certificate obtained within the last two years (minimum requirements TOEFL: paper-based – 650; Internet-based – 95. IELTS: 6.5. Cambridge: Proficiency Certificate with Grade C or better). Please indicate on the application form if you are still waiting for your English language proficiency results.
  5. Photocopy of personal details pages of your passport.
  6. If you are requesting financial assistance, please include your CV and a motivation letter with your application. The motivation letter should include details of your relevant professional and educational background; reasons for your interest in the course; and why you feel you should have the opportunity to participate in this course: i.e. how will your participation benefit you, your institution and/or your country? Financial assistance from DiploFoundation is available only to applicants from developing countries.
  7. Application fee or proof of payment (€100 – non-refundable – see methods of payment).

Please mail complete application packages to the address at the bottom of the page.


Cancellation Policy

Diplo reserves the right to cancel this course if enrolment is insufficient. In case of cancellation, Diplo will notify applicants shortly after the application deadline. Applicants who have paid an application fee may apply this fee towards another course or receive a refund.

Print course info
Course details:

Explore the origins of multilateral diplomacy and its evolution within a dynamic and rapidly changing environment.

This course introduces participants to the diplomatic interaction among more than two actors, with particular emphasis on the multilateral diplomacy represented by the United Nations system. Participants examine an overview of all protagonists and their roles, as well as the complex framework, intricate rules and methods of multilateral diplomacy. These challenging topics are complemented by insights into the processes leading to the adoption of documents by states within international organisations, as well the current transformations affecting the multilateral system. Using illustrative case studies, the course blends an academic perspective with the experience of current practitioners of multilateral diplomacy.

By the end of the course, participants should be able to:

  • Provide an overview of multilateral diplomacy from its origins through to current changes introduced by globalisation and new information and communication technologies.
  • Describe the roles of traditional and new stakeholders with interest and influence in multilateral organisations.
  • Discuss the various forums and forms of multilateral diplomacy, from the formal to the informal, identifying the rules, methods, processes and actors involved in each.
  • Describe the institutional framework within which multilateral diplomacy operates.
  • Provide examples, and analyse how multilateral diplomacy is responding to factors such as political changes, globalisation and the growing influence of the business sector and civil society.

Excerpt from course materials

Why is consensus necessary?

A widespread belief suggests that decisions taken by consensus have greater political force than those that one or more delegations have refused to support. Many governments and delegates dislike the overt confrontation and sense of victory and defeat that voting conveys.

Multilateral meetings are co-operative endeavours and one of their main tasks is to produce and project the assurance of a prevailing collaborative spirit. This spirit is visible if all participants consent to the decision adopted. A more practical interpretation, however, of why consensus is necessary is that on many issues most countries find it possible to accept language with which they are not entirely satisfied, but with which they are not in strong opposition. If called upon to vote on the same proposal or document, they might feel obliged to vote against or signify lack of enthusiasm or the presence of a reservation, by registering an abstention.

Course outline

  1. Origin, evolution, and objectives of multilateral diplomacy: a brief historic preface covering key events that have marked the evolution of multilateral diplomacy. We examine existing intergovernmental organisations created by treaties concluded among member countries, dealing with the increasing number of issues that need international debate, action and regulation.
  2. Actors: sovereign states are still the main protagonists in multilateral diplomacy, but we are currently witnessing the increased involvement of non-state actors, including non-governmental organisations, representatives of civil society and the business community. Both traditional and new actors are discussed.
  3. Framework: we examine the increasingly diverse bodies within which governments and other actors cooperate, while their responsibilities and mandates cover ever more demanding areas and new challenges.
  4. Rules: despite the importance of the full observance of the constitutive acts of various international organisations, including their rules of procedure, multilateral diplomacy embraces constantly new forms of interaction, thus reflecting the need for flexibility and rapid adaptability to a dynamic environment.
  5. Methods: Nowadays only a part of the multilateral diplomatic effort takes place in formal and solemn settings. The interaction among various actors extends to a number of modalities, including informal contacts and spontaneous coalitions of the willing. We look at both formal and informal methods of multilateral diplomacy.
  6. Process: the preparation of diplomatic events is manifold, and depends on the level at which it is undertaken: national or international, formal or informal, on substance or on procedures.
  7. New Developments: We consider the crucial changes which globalisation has introduced into the multilateral context, including the emergence of new stakeholders with interests and resources to influence the behaviour and power of states.
  8. ICT and multilateral diplomacy: the development of new information and communication technologies offers an unprecedented potential for important changes in the traditional ways and means of conducting multilateral diplomacy. The tools, their impact, and implications, are analysed.
Who should apply:

This course will be of interest to:

  • Practising diplomats, civil servants, and others working in international relations who want to refresh or expand their knowledge under the guidance of experienced practitioners and academics.
  • Postgraduate students of diplomacy or international relations wishing to study topics not offered through their university programmes or diplomatic academies and to gain deeper insight through interaction with practising diplomats.
  • Postgraduate students or practitioners in other fields seeking an entry point into the world of diplomacy.
  • Journalists, staff of international and non-governmental organisations, translators, business people and others who interact with diplomats and wish to improve their understanding of diplomacy-related topics.
Methodology:

This course is conducted entirely online over a period of ten weeks. Reading materials and tools for online interaction are provided through an online classroom. Each week, participants read the provided lecture text, adding questions, comments and references in the form of hypertext entries. Lecturers and other participants read and respond to these entries, creating interaction based on the lecture text. During the week, participants complete additional online activities (e.g. further discussion via blogs or forums, quizzes, group tasks, simulations or short assignments). At the end of the week, participants and lecturers meet online in a chat room to discuss the week’s topic. To complete the course successfully, participants must write several essay assignments. Courses are based on a collaborative approach to learning, involving a high level of interaction.

This course requires a minimum of five to seven hours of study time per week.

Prerequisites:

All course applicants must have regular access to the Internet (dial-up connection is sufficient, although broadband is preferable).

Applicants for certificate courses must have:

  • An undergraduate university degree OR three years of work experience and appropriate professional qualifications in diplomacy or international relations.
  • Sufficient ability in the English language to undertake postgraduate level studies (including reading academic texts, discussing complex concepts with other course participants, and submitting written essay assignments of up to 2500 words in length).

Applicants for accredited courses must meet University of Malta prerequisites:

  • Bachelor's degree in a relevant subject with at least Second Class Honours.
  • Proof of English language proficiency obtained within the last two years (minimum requirements TOEFL: paper-based – 650; Internet-based – 95. IELTS: 6.5. Cambridge: Proficiency Certificate with Grade C or better). If when applying you are still waiting for your English language proficiency results, the University may issue a conditional letter of acceptance.
Fees:

Course fees depend on whether you wish to obtain university credit for the course:

  • €790  (University of Malta Accredited Course)
  • €650  (Diplo Certificate Course)

Applicants must pay full fees upon official acceptance into the course. The fee includes:

  • University of Malta application fee (for University of Malta Accredited Courses only)
  • Full tuition
  • Course orientation pack where applicable (optional readings)
  • Access to all course materials online, via Diplo’s online classroom
  • Access, via the Internet, to the University of Malta e-journal collection (University of Malta Accredited Courses only)
  • Personal interaction via the online classroom with course lecturers, staff and other participants
  • Online technical support
  • For Diplo Certificate Courses, postgraduate level certificate issued by DiploFoundation on successful completion of course requirements (interaction and participation, all assignments)

Financial assistance

Discounts are available for more than one participant from the same institution. A limited number of partial scholarships are available for diplomats and others working in international relations from developing countries.

To apply for a scholarship please upload your CV and a motivation letter with your application. The motivation letter should include:

  • Details of your relevant professional and educational background.
  • Reasons for your interest in the course.
  • Why you feel you should have the opportunity to participate in this course: how will your participation benefit you, your institution and/or your country?

As Diplo's ability to offer scholarship support is limited, candidates are strongly encouraged to seek scholarship funding directly from local or international institutions. Our guide to Finding Scholarships for Online Study may provide you with some useful starting points.

How to apply:

A number of routes for application are available:


Apply for a Diplo Certificate Course

Applicants for certificate courses should apply online.

If you are applying for financial assistance, please upload your CV and a motivation letter with your application. The motivation letter should include:

  • Details of your relevant professional and educational background.
  • Reasons for your interest in the course.
  • Why you feel you should have the opportunity to participate in this course: how will your participation benefit you, your institution and/or your country?

Please note that financial assistance from DiploFoundation is available only to applicants from developing countries. Late applications will be considered if there are spaces available in the course.


Apply for a University of Malta Accredited Course

Complete application packages must be received by specified application deadlines in order to be considered.

  1. Two copies of the University of Malta application form filled out in full (download form for overseas applicants; download form for applicants with Maltese qualifications).
  2. Certified copies of original degree(s) and official transcripts.
  3. English translations of degree(s) and transcripts if they are not in English, signed and stamped by translator.
  4. English language proficiency certificate obtained within the last two years (minimum requirements TOEFL: paper-based – 650; Internet-based – 95. IELTS: 6.5. Cambridge: Proficiency Certificate with Grade C or better). Please indicate on the application form if you are still waiting for your English language proficiency results.
  5. Photocopy of personal details pages of your passport.
  6. If you are requesting financial assistance, please include your CV and a motivation letter with your application. The motivation letter should include details of your relevant professional and educational background; reasons for your interest in the course; and why you feel you should have the opportunity to participate in this course: i.e. how will your participation benefit you, your institution and/or your country? Financial assistance from DiploFoundation is available only to applicants from developing countries.
  7. Application fee or proof of payment (€100 – non-refundable – see methods of payment).

Please mail complete application packages to the address at the bottom of the page.


Cancellation Policy

Diplo reserves the right to cancel this course if enrolment is insufficient. In case of cancellation, Diplo will notify applicants shortly after the application deadline. Applicants who have paid an application fee may apply this fee towards another course or receive a refund.