Chronicle: Conflict Analysis & Foreign Policy Training

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The World Youth Academy alongside the Research & Advisory in International Affairs Group (RAIA) held this past weekend (11th-13th October) and for the very first time a Summit in Madrid, Spain. Notwithstanding its intensity and hard work, the Conflict Analysis & Foreign Policy training has left us wanting more. The training gathered 26 participants from 16 different nationalities (17 women!), from Spain to Ethiopia; from Syria to Germany.

Day 1: Profiling to understand foreign policy

On the first day, Friday, we had the pleasure to be introduced into profiling and foreign policy analysis by Mr. Balder Haeraats. From a fresh approach to decision-making in IR, the participants learned how the personal circumstances and character of key decision-makers can be crucial in order to understand their foreign policy approach and decisions.

During the session, the participants engaged in lively debates among themselves and the lecturer and, to fully grasp the complexities of this kind of analysis, they worked in teams to analyze leaders’ personalities around the world, followed by some role-play as well in which we had to simulate negotiations as the leaders previously analyzed and come to agreements.

It was, overall a very exciting first day in which we had the opportunity to get to know each other, interact and, of course, grab a few drinks afterwards.

Day 2: Approaching to conflict analysis

On Saturday, we had the pleasure to have Mr. Tarik Ndifi, a conflict expert, as our speaker. The participants approached conflict analysis, with a special emphasis on methodology and early warning signs. From a practical perspective, we had the chance to analyze ongoing conflicts, particularly historical Iran-US tensions, and to apply the methodology to a series of group exercises involving practicing Conflict Tree drawing. Although approaching conflict is not an easy job since the topic is complex and requires a great deal of sensitivity and knowledge, Mr. Ndifi’s vast experience and insights helped us understand the ways conflicts can be analyzed to include a variety of perspectives and nuances.

The day included a social gathering post-session in a formal setting that helped us all reset a bit, share impressions and insights and get ready for the final day of the training.

Day 3: An emphasis on rehabilitation 

The last day, Sunday, we gathered once again to continue with Mr. Ndifi’s lecture & team exercises on conflict, this time emphasizing conflict rehabilitation and peacebuilding and the difficulties these processes entail for the everyday of the people living in conflict areas, even after the declaration of formal peace. Thanks to Mr. Ndifi’s experiences in the field, we had the chance to know more about post-conflict situations in Bosnia and Serbia, Germany and Poland, among others.

After this last session concluded, all participants were handed the Certificates of Attendance, symbolizing the final farewell.  Sadly, the training came to an end. But I am sure we will see each other soon, perhaps in Vienna.

Until we do. It has been a pleasure.

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