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Humanitarian Diplomacy online course

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. The diversity of the teaching team takes account of the importance of the course reaching people from everywhere in the world, from all sorts of backgrounds and with all sorts of values. More details on the course team can be found in the Methodology section below.

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.

Programme details

What are the course objectives? 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 humanitarian principles, 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.
What will you learn?
  • Explain clearly the concept of humanitarian diplomacy and provide examples of humanitarian diplomacy in action.
  • List and categorise the main actors and stakeholders in the field of humanitarian diplomacy and describe their roles in particular situations.
  • Describe the interplay between relevant international law, including international humanitarian law, and humanitarian diplomacy.
  • Explain how to obtain and use an evidence base for humanitarian diplomacy activities
  • Describe the role, techniques, and tools of persuasion and advocacy in humanitarian diplomacy.
  • Organise a humanitarian diplomacy alliance.
  • Prepare an advocacy strategy, taking into consideration the techniques of persuasion and the application of fundamental humanitarian principles.
  • Prepare for effective humanitarian diplomacy negotiations, and describe how different humanitarian diplomacy contexts influence negotiation outcomes.
  • Analyse case studies of humanitarian diplomacy, identifying goals, actors, methods, challenges, and implementation.
How will you learn? In this course you will interact intensively in discussions with classmates and lecturers from around the world. You will receive guidance, and personalised feedback on your classwork, from the course team. How long will you learn? The course lasts for 13 weeks:
  • 1 week of course introduction and orientation to online learning
  • 8 weeks of addressing the course topics one by one (see below for more details)
  • 4 weeks for the research phase
You can read more about this in the course brochure.