International negotiations

In the History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides includes the Melian Dialogue, a negotiation between the Athenian envoys and the governors of Melos. In this interaction the Athenians asserted that "the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must" to demand Melos' surrender and payment of tribute. The Melians, however, did not want to concede to the power of Athens, so they attempted to counteract this principle of 'might makes right' through rational arguments. Unfortunately, the negotiations were unsuccessful and Athens proceeded to conquer Melos.

Despite its failure, this classic negotiation serves as the starting point in our journey to explore international negotiations. In the context of their historical evolution, we survey the practical and theoretical aspects of how nations peacefully relate to each other and their endeavours to work together on common enterprises, particularly when facing common challenges, while protecting their interests.

We then get acquainted with some of the main topics of international negotiations today and the frameworks (referred to in this courses as 'spaces') in which these negotiations take place. During the course, students have the opportunity to put some of what they have learned into practice and develop their skills as international negotiators through two short simulation exercises and by playing Diplomacy, a game of strategy where negotiations are essential for winning.