Diplomacy Exercise

Sunday, June 20, 2021 at 11:00 AM CDT

Be sure to read through the complete simulation overview before it begins!

Simulation PreviewBegin the Simulation

What is diplomacy?

Diplomacy is the art or practice of conducting international relations, such as negotiating alliances, treaties and agreements, and exercising tact and skill in dealing with people of varied backgrounds to advance a country’s national interests and security. Diplomatic skills can be used in a variety of individual or organizational situations, from negotiating the hourly rate you will be paid at your job to deciding what movie to see with your friends.

Our Diplomacy Simulation

How does a Diplomatic Simulation work? A diplomatic simulation is a collaborative learning experience during which students step into the role of a real-life diplomat. The U.S. Diplomacy Center’s Diplomatic Simulations are designed for 15-30 participants. Students receive a scenario related to a global issue, which could be real world or hypothetical, current or historic. Within each simulation, there are five to six stakeholder groups (e.g., foreign ministries, NGOs, and international organizations), each with different perspectives and priorities. Students role-play these stakeholders in small teams of three to five. Under set time constraints, the groups are challenged to negotiate a peaceful solution to a crisis in the scenario. Students use the information provided in the simulation packet to develop their group’s 3 policy positions and defend or modify their choices in real time. The simulations have no right or wrong actions or end point because it is the process (rather than the result) that holds the most value for the students. The learning experience develops organically as students engage in the simulation. Once the simulation has been completed, students are encouraged to express how their views on diplomacy have evolved as a result of the experience and to contemplate how they can apply diplomatic skills to their everyday lives.

The following Diplomacy Simulation is from the U.S. State Department’s National Museum of American Diplomacy “Discover Diplomacy” Simulations.

Freshwater Crisis

Energy Security and Economic Growth


This simulation involves a hypothetical scenario but deals with the real world problem of increasingly scarce freshwater resources. You will role play a member of a delegation at an international meeting trying to negotiate a solution. The delegations are:

  1. The U.S. Department of State
  2. The Water Convention Bureau
  3. The Foreign Ministry of Yeeland
  4. The Foreign Ministry of Grusa
  5. Save Our Avian Resources (SOAR)

Yeeland and Grusa are neighboring countries that share a common border (see map). Yeeland is an industrialized country with a medium-sized population. Most people live in urban areas. Grusa is a rural country with a much smaller population. Most people are farmers. Yeeland, Grusa and the United States are economically interdependent. Grusa grows wheat that it sells to Yeeland and the United States. Yeeland manufactures farming equipment that it sells to Grusa and the United States. All three countries are members of the United Nations.

The Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (the Water Convention) is a legally binding international treaty (agreement) that any country belonging to the United Nations can join. Treaty members agree to three broad principles:

1. Do No Harm

To use water in ways that as much as possible prevent, control, and reduce significant transboundary impact (the “do no harm” rule)

2. Reasonable Use

To use water in ways that are equitable and reasonable (the “reasonable use” rule)

3. Cooperation

To cooperate with other nations to achieve goals (1) and (2).

The Water Convention Bureau is an international organization created under the treaty to help treaty members act in accordance with these three principles. Grusa and Yeeland are both parties to the Water Convention. The United States is not a signatory of the Water Convention.

Yeeland and Grusa share a common freshwater source. The Great Sox River flows down from the northern mountains of Yeeland, passes through Lake Eco, and runs into Grusa. There it branches into the East Sox, South Sox and West Sox rivers (collectively called the “Lesser Sox” rivers). Lake Eco straddles the border between Yeeland and Grusa. The lake is the natural habitat for an endangered species called the Lauret crane. The Lauret crane is one of the largest flying birds in the world, standing six feet tall with a wingspan of eight feet. Lake Eco happens to be one of the few places on Earth where these birds still live in the wild.

About 20 years ago, Yeeland and Grusa created the Lake Eco Wetlands Preserve to protect the Lauret cranes from local extinction. They jointly manage the lake and the land around it. This preserve is an important source of jobs and income for both countries due to the thousands
of tourists from different nations who visit the Lake Eco Wetlands Preserve each year. 10% of
Yeelanders and 30% of Grusans work at the Lake Eco Wetlands Preserve or in the nearby hotels, shops, and restaurants that cater to so-called “crane tourists.” 40% of Yeeland’s national income and 60% of Grusa’s national income comes from these businesses. At the same time, crane tourism is very profitable for American airlines and sightseeing companies that lead ecological tours around the wetlands preserve.

Foreign avian (bird) scientists also live around the preserve so they can study the cranes throughout the year in their natural habitat. Many of the avian scientists working at Lake Eco are from the U.S. These scientists are particularly interested in the Lauret crane because there is some evidence that a cancer medicine could be developed from the crane’s saliva. The more cranes they can study there, the better.

Save Our Avian Resources (SOAR) is an international non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to protecting the natural environment, with a specific focus on bird species. Members of SOAR include people from around the globe who love nature, especially birds, and scientists who study birds in their natural habitats. SOAR raises donations from bird-lovers around the world to pay the salaries of many of the veterinarians, researchers, and park rangers who work at Lake Eco. SOAR also promotes crane tourism to support the wetlands preserve.

Yeeland, Grusa and the United States have a shared problem: climate change. Due to changing weather patterns, each winter less snow falls in the mountains. When the snow melts in the spring there is less water flowing into the Great Sox River. As a result of this climate change, the Great Sox River is at the lowest level it has ever been. The Lake Eco Wetlands Preserve downstream needs every drop it can get to support the cranes and other precious wildlife. At the same time, Grusan farmers need water to grow the wheat that provides 40% of Grusa’s national income.

Yeeland’s current power grid does not provide enough electricity for its growing population
and rapidly expanding industries. There have already been several blackouts in Yeeland’s big cities that adversely affect schools, businesses, public transportation, grocery stores and, most significantly, hospitals. To solve its energy shortage, the government has completed about 75% of a four-year project to build a new
hydroelectric power plant and dam along the Great Sox River. An American company, U.S.-Yeeland Construction, is in charge of building the power plant and the dam.

Yeeland knows the dam will reduce the amount of water that flows into Lake Eco and on to the Lesser Sox rivers. It will endanger the cranes, reduce crane tourism, and potentially cut the amount of wheat Grusa can grow and sell to Yeeland and the U.S. However, the government’s top priority is providing electricity to as many of its citizens as possible, as soon as possible. Yeelanders are very concerned about the power outages, which are becoming more frequent and lasting longer. They worry especially about hospitals being disrupted, and every day Yeeland’s politicians receive calls and letters from angry citizens demanding the government to fix the problem immediately.

The government of Yeeland believes it is abiding by the “reasonable use” standard of the international Water Convention and for this reason has refused to discuss the issue before today. Last week, the President of Yeeland defended the power plant and dam on television, saying, “The Great Sox River is on our land. It is our river. Other countries should not try to dictate what Yeeland does with its own natural resources.”

Grusa claims Yeeland is ignoring its obligations as a signatory to the Water Convention to “do no harm.” Grusa is very concerned that Yeeland’s dam will permanently damage the fragile ecosystem the Lake Eco Wetlands Preserve was created to protect, significantly reduce the already endangered Lauret crane population, and create major water shortages for Grusan farmers. The fate of the Lauret cranes is a very emotional issue in Grusa, where that bird is considered the national mascot (like the American Bald Eagle or the Australian Red Kangaroo), and Grusans see Yeeland’s disregard for the cranes’ survival as a great insult to Grusan culture.

SOAR also strongly opposes Yeeland’s plan to build the power plant. The group knows from studying birds that Lauret cranes do not live as long in zoos or have as many chicks as they do in their natural habitat. SOAR has already helped angry Grusans stage several protests in front of the Yeeland Embassy in Grusa and in Yeeland’s capital city. These protests have received a lot of negative international media attention and embarrassed the Yeeland government. SOAR and Grusa have been trying for three years to bring Yeeland to the negotiating table, and Yeeland finally agreed after the latest (and largest protest) last month.

As an alternative to hydroelectricity, Yeeland could instead invest in wind and solar energy technology, which cost about the same. However, Yeeland would have to study the possibilities, develop a completely new energy plan, and only then begin building. That process could take up to three years. In the meantime, Yeeland’s cities would continue to experience significant power outages.

The governments of Yeeland and Grusa are very aware that regardless of their differences,
the current water-sharing arrangement has become untenable and must change. However,
they cannot agree on what to do. They have asked the U.S. Department of State and the Water Convention Bureau to help them find a solution. The Water Convention Bureau has invited SOAR to the meeting to represent the interests of the cranes.

Questions to Think About

  • Whom do you represent?
  • What is your overall goal?
  • What goals (in priority order) would you also like to achieve?
  • Who can help you?
  • Who might oppose your approach?
  • What incentives and disincentives can you offer to persuade others?
  • What should be your strategy in dealing with the other parties, i.e., with whom should you speak first?

At the start of the scenario, each delegate will be assigned into one (1) of the following five (5) stakeholder groups. Be prepared to be a representative for any of these groups, regardless for your personal beliefs about the scenario.

The U.S. Department of State

The Water Convention Bureau

The Foreign Ministry of Yeeland

The Foreign Ministry of Grusa

Save Our Avian Resources (SOAR)

At 11:00 AM on Sunday, June 20, we will gather in a single Zoom session to brief the simulation. After an initial 20 minute meeting, you will have 100 minutes complete the simulation. Here is a preview of the simulation agenda:

11:00 AM CDT (20 minutes) – Simulation Briefing for All Delegates.
11:20 AM CDT (10 minutes) – Move to Simulation Rooms (Assigned Rooms on the Following Page).
11:30 AM CDT (15 minutes) – Meet with Stakeholder Group to develop opening statement.
11:45 AM CDT (15 minutes) – Each Stakeholder Delivers Opening Statement.
12:00 PM CDT (10 minutes) – Meet with Stakeholder Groups to determine plan of action.
12:10 PM CDT (20 minutes) – Informal Discussions and Negotiations.
12:30 PM CDT (10 minutes) – Meet with Stakeholder Groups to develop Statements of Agreement.
12:40 PM CDT (10 minutes) – Each Stakeholder Delivers their Statement of Agreement, Brief Discussion.
12:50 PM CDT (5 minutes) – Stakeholder Groups Meet to Renegotiate, if necessary.
12:55 PM CDT (5 minutes) – Final Negotiations & Agreement.
1:00 PM CDT – Simulation Ends.

Prior to the Simulation Briefing at 11:00 AM CDT, click the red “Begin Simulation!” button below. You will want to keep open that page for the duration of the simulation, as it will guide you through the simulation process step-by-step.

Good luck!

The simulation begins promptly at 11:00 AM CDT with an all-delegate briefing. It is here that we will go over the simulation details.

Click Here to Join this Zoom Session.

Meeting ID: 823 0075 0445
Password: 779718

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