The Future of Humanitarian Negotiation

As part of our portfolio on the Future of Humanitarian Negotiation, we are delighted to jointly offer a professional seminar on Frontline Humanitarian Negotiation with Professor Claude Bruderlein Module 2, Fall 2021.

Humanitarian Negotiation

Professional Seminar | Humanitarian Negotiation in Hostile Environments

Fridays 12:00 - 1:30 p.m. ET | October 22 – December 3

7 weeks, 6 sessions (omitting a session for the Thanksgiving holiday)

*all sessions will take place remotely via Zoom*


Humanitarian frontlines are complex environments where negotiators face political uncertainties, social intricacies, adversarial counterparts, and rapidly changing conflicts. Illustrated most recently with the evolving crisis in Afghanistan, the relationship between humanitarians and their counterpart(s) reflects the tension and power relationships surrounding humanitarian access negotiations. While political tensions are very much part of humanitarian negotiation processes, these may lead at times to implicit or even explicit threats, extortion and coercion compromising the life and integrity of humanitarian staff in the field and their operating principles. In this context, humanitarian organizations and personnel need to prepare to prevent adversarial relationships and proactively address the deterioration of negotiation environments.

Led by Claude Bruderlein; a Senior Researcher at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI), Strategic Advisor to the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and director of the Centre of Competence on Humanitarian Negotiation (CCHN), this study group will operate as a Professional Seminar, bridging field practices with current research. Students will conduct desk research on tools and methods to address power relationships, prevent corruption, mitigate extortion, and rehabilitate affected relationships with counterparts in adversarial negotiations. Grounded in a literature review of humanitarian diplomacy and crisis management, students will explore the challenges and dilemmas of negotiation in complex environments. Students will not receive course credit for participation in the Professional Seminar.

This year, the Professional Seminar on Frontline Humanitarian Negotiation is jointly offered with the Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Collaboratory at the Center for Public Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School as part of its portfolio of work on the Future of Humanitarian Negotiation.

Please apply for the Professional Seminar here by Sunday, September 26 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Contact Maura James or Monica Giannone with any questions.