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 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 or Spanish will have the option to write and submit some course assignments and the final research paper in either of those languages.
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:
By the end of this course, participants should be able to:
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 defines humanitarian diplomacy, its components, and related concepts. It introduces the IFRC Humanitarian Diplomacy Policy and its four signposts for action. Next, it discusses how humanitarian diplomacy has evolved, and its relevance in current complex operational contexts. The module concludes by looking at the profile of a humanitarian diplomat.
Module 2 – Humanitarian diplomacy toolkit: This module offers a set of tools for understanding, developing, and implementing humanitarian diplomacy activities. These include humanitarian principles, international law, the evidence-based approach, and communication skills. Practically speaking, the toolkit helps humanitarian diplomats engage in debate, argue in favour of their positions, persuade interlocutors, and find creative solutions for overcoming stalemates in policy discussions.
Module 3 – Humanitarian diplomacy actors: This module surveys the evolution of modern humanitarian diplomacy actors. It starts from the creation of what is now the RCRC Movement and its pivotal place in the establishment of non-governmental humanitarian action. It proceeds with an examination of the RCRC Movement’s national and international characteristics, as well as the role of other actors, including national and international NGOs, national governments, international organisations, private entities, and individuals. It also covers the 1949 Geneva Conventions, their additional protocols, and other instruments of international humanitarian law.
Module 4 – Persuasion: This module focusses on persuasion in humanitarian diplomacy. It covers the three fundaments of persuasion: ethos (credibility), logos (rationality), and pathos (emotions). Following this, it looks at the actors involved in persuasion. Who should be persuaded; and who does the persuading? Finally, the module introduces tools and techniques for putting together a convincing argument, publicly or privately.
Module 5 – Advocacy – practical guidance: This module presents a range of practical tools for developing a strong advocacy strategy. It introduces advocacy and how it happens. It explains how advocacy fits into the wider set of skills and activities that make up the humanitarian diplomacy field. It provides methods for identifying and defining an advocacy issue, and offers checklists for credibility and risk. The module presents benefits and challenges of working in partnerships.
Module 6 – Negotiation: This module introduces definitions, objectives, and negotiation theory. It looks at the specific features of humanitarian negotiations. The process of negotiation, starting from preparation and strategy, and moving into the actual negotiation, is covered. The module offers case studies of humanitarian negotiation at the multilateral, regional, and national contexts, as well as in crisis and conflict situations.
Module 7 – Implementing negotiated agreements: Through examination of case studies, this module looks at using humanitarian diplomacy to ensure implementation of a negotiated outcome, demonstrating that diplomacy does not cease with the signature of an agreement. The module covers practical considerations and obstacles to implementation.
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 discusses each of these topics, and also covers monitoring and evaluation of humanitarian diplomacy activities.