I have been participating in the ICONs Project of 2016 during the winter Semester in the Department of Diplomacy at National Chengchi University. This project is a negotiation simulation that has been developed over recent decades and includes opportunities to explore how real negotiations work in the field of diplomacy and international relations. All of these practices contributing to increasing our negotiation skills were delivered through electronic media. There were seven countries, and each had its own delegation on a particular issue, for example, nuclear proliferation, the environment, arms control, disarmament and nonproliferation, border security, humanitarian emergencies and trade and development, selected from countries including the Russian Federation, the Kingdom of Spain, The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Peoples Republic of China, the Kingdom of Spain, the Kingdom of Sweden, the Philippines and the Federal Republic of Germany. This unique environment via electronic media brings together various students at the same time and enables them to seek to better understand the policies of each country, as each delegation was from a different state and in negotiation with different nations to pursue goals in which international organisations have been actively negotiating under current international policy.
I was chosen for the Border Security delegation team. Firstly, we had to develop in depth understanding of the current situation with regard to the Kingdom of Sweden and her border security. Secondly, we have to be very much engaged with the current foreign policy of Sweden in the border security aspects, and how to behave towards states with whom we are in negotiation. Sweden is a middle power within Europe, and we sought to achieve goals to the mutual benefit of each country in the ICONs project and thus avoid pursuing only individual gains for our respective countries.
We began with the writing of our Proposal Paper. This means to summarise the foreign policy of Sweden, its steps in the current international environment, and its steps for tackling future problems. There were two negotiations tables being conducted through the online system, in which each state had to participate, with each negotiation table having its own chairman. In the first, the chair was the Philippines; they were seeking to focus on illicit drug trafficking, counter-terrorism operations and, retrospectively, how to deal with the aftermath of terrorist acts, along with how countries can maintain their marine economic interests. The states as a whole focused mainly on the issue of illicit drug trafficking and counter-terrorism operations and how to deal with them. Each states came with their different approaches and we had to try to agree upon a common one. A reflection arising from this first negotiation is that states wanted to pursue and solve only their own problems, because when it came to the terms of the marine economic interests, states became slower to respond and less talkative. During the second negotiation, the chairman of Germany was taken more seriously in pursuit of its goals. Additionally, every country had experience with more tacit knowledge and tried to communicate through private messages. After the second negotiation, states had had seven days in which to make up coalitions through private messages or to write and upload their pre-final or final proposals, which sought to deal with the common problems of each state. Conclusion of the negotiation tables was on the basis of private messages through which states tried to pursue their tactics in negotiation.
The Delegation of Border Security of the Kingdom of Sweden had tried to focus on a common goal of all, and we were successful in developing a new institution which would serve for counter-terrorism and the European immigration crisis. We gained enough sponsorship, to the tune of around $5.6 Billion and we were looking forward to the final day of the “election of proposals”. Moreover, we had also forged alliances with European states, the United States, Russia and China, where we supported and tried to achieve passage of their proposals.
Our team gained the most experience in negotiation of true diplomacy from particular states, because some states tried to play tricky diplomacy to win their proposals at all costs – e.g. to promise sponsorship of ours and subsequently, after our voting, failing to reciprocate. Through this experience, we found out that states do not strongly understood the current foreign policy of the particular states and the ICONs project has to be better managed in the future, for the benefit of students who are move involved in states’ particular policies, to foster a better outset and negotiation process. On the other hand, some states played their role very faithfully, and we could easily see that they were true representatives of their states.
We developed greater negotiation skills and came to understand that professional diplomacy is mainly managed through back channels and informal meetings; in our case, were private messages through which we tried as much as we could to pursue our mutual goals. It was pleasing to see states seeking to achieve strategies which in the current world would never work, but that over time, through the efforts of our generation, according to what we discovered in negotiation, perhaps could in the future.
The ICONs project made clear to us that each state will always try to impoverish others and, accordingly, the mutual benefit of all states will never be worked towards one hundred percent.