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Global Negotiation Conference 2021

Negotiating a Treaty on Business and Human Rights

Hosted Online by the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich

For a second year in a row the Global Negotiation Conference took place online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Students joined from around the world, representing universities based in the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Romania, Iraq, Poland and India. The participants took part in four days of workshops and presentations culminating in a negotiation simulation looking to secure an international treaty on business and human rights.

The conference program included presentations and workshops from Michael Ambühl (ETH Zurich), Christine Kaufmann (University of Zurich), Mikkel Gudsoe (University of Aarhus), Julie Garfieldt Kofoed (UN Global Compact), Smadar Cohen-Chen (University of Sussex) and Véronique Fraser (University of Sherbrooke). The inputs covered a range of topics including the role of emotions in negotiation, identifying cultural differences in approaches to dispute resolution, the mathematical foundations of negotiation, the nature of political negotiations and the challenges and opportunities for an international agreement on business and human rights. 

The keynote speech was delivered by Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga, President of Latvia (1999-2007). Dr. Vike-Freiberga reflected upon her career in high political office and emphasised the role of education in maintaining a democratic society. The full address can be watched on YouTube.  

On the final two days of the conference the teams took part in two separate negotiation simulations devised and facilitated by Jerome Bellion-Jourdan (Graduate Institute Geneva). The simulations were modelled on the national and international processes involved in negotiating an international treaty to address business violations of human rights. The simulations used the virtual platform to recreate the feel of a multilateral negotiation.

The students worked hard to overcome the challenges of negotiating online and successfully secured an agreement by consensus. Though all of the teams demonstrated impressive negotiation skills the judges singled out the teams from University College London, Jindal Global Law School and the University of Twente for special commendation based on their performance. 


The full program for the conference is available here:

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