Conflict Overview

For the people of Abrad, the right to vote is a core principle that many believe to be a basic democratic right that should be protected, promoted, and practiced. As a nonpartisan representative democracy, the nation of Abrad holds an election for its Head of State every four years. The national leader is chosen through a runoff election where the candidates are the top two vote-getters from a primary election in the year prior. Abrad takes great pride in its election practices, free of influence and distractions from a party-based system. This nonpartisan system allows each candidate to focus more deeply on issues rather than following party lines.

In February, Abrad held its primary election, narrowing the field of candidates to two highly qualified individuals. In recent debates, issues of education, global governmental corruption, unemployment, substance abuse, and national security have been highly discussed. The front-running candidate has taken a strong stance in addressing governmental corruption, especially in the neighboring nation of Cothaiia, a nation that has been accused of having questionable election practices throughout its history. The other candidate, however, has stated that they will not immediately address the alleged corruption in Cothaiia.

Earlier this week, multiple intelligence agencies in Abrad reported with high confidence that the government of Cothaiia has been conducting a sophisticated web-based campaign to influence the 2020 election for Abrad’s Head of State. The intelligence agencies each stated that Cothaiia’s government leaders ordered and led the efforts to use the Abradian social media network Friend+Me™ to mislead Abrad’s citizens and influence voter perception. The allegations that Cothaiia has interfered with Abrad’s election have created a hostile atmosphere in Abrad between candidates and their supporters and has sparked social and political discord. Since the reports were published, multiple investigations have begun, bringing the campaigns of each candidate into public scrutiny. At the root of these inquiries are concerns about the security of Abrad’s electoral process and fears that a rival power could influence an election’s results. At this time, the intelligence agencies report that there is no evidence to suggest that either candidate is directly involved with the efforts of the Cothaiian government. Cothaiia has publicly and repeatedly denied all allegations since the initial reports were made.

With the general election inching closer, Abradites are gravely concerned that their election process has been corrupted and that the results will be influenced. Abrad’s outgoing Head of State has already publicly admonished the Cothaiian government, warning its leaders that further interference would be addressed with strong sanctions against the nation. Several non-governmental organizations have begun to voice their opinions on the matter, as well. A spokesperson for the International Free and Fair Election Network (IFAFEN) recently published a statement that Cothaiia’s use of cyberwarfare to influence the election in Abrad is unmistakably immoral and quite harmful to the outcome of the election. The Global Free Speech Alliance (GFSA), however, has stated that Cothaiia’s government and citizens are at liberty to publish or otherwise express their opinions without censorship or persecution. Both organizations have called upon Friend+Me to assist the two nations in coming to an agreeable solution and to prevent conflicts like this in the future.

Additional Information

In this hypothetical simulation, delegates will take on the roles of key stakeholders as they negotiate a diplomatic resolution to the current conflict and address the factors that led to it. The exercise will develop skills in critical thinking, collaboration, problem-solving, persuasive communication, and global competence.

Today’s exercise will simulate an international diplomatic meeting called to address this fictionalized instance of a real-world problem. Though the scenario may closely resemble recent or historic events, delegates are asked to only consider the facts presented within this overview and/or any information presented by their groups’ counselor(s) or the simulation’s director. Any other information from news media or other sources should be strictly disregarded. Delegates should use their own creativity to fill in any information gaps that may exist, being careful to leave out actual national or international politics.

The group counselor(s) will serve as Meeting Co-Chairs to call the meeting together, keep time and moderate as necessary. Each delegate will assume the role of a member of a delegation for one of the following groups:

  • The Government of Abrad
  • The Government of Cothaiia
  • Friend+Me™ Social Media Website
  • International Free and Fair Election Network (IFAFEN)
  • The Global Free Speech Alliance (GFSA)
  • The U.S. State Department

At the beginning of the first round of discussions and in the order listed above, each group will have two minutes to outline its concerns and objectives. Some ideas for your group’s opening position are provided in your Stakeholder Profile—feel free to incorporate or disregard these suggestions as you wish.

After all groups have given an opening statement, you will be given 5 minutes to reach out to other participants and negotiate your positions informally. Your goal in this session should be to build alliances and offer strategies to find consensus with as many other groups as possible.

When you return to the formal meeting, the Chair will recognize delegates to hear their proposals. During this time, you should look for support. Do not spend time endlessly debating. The goal is to find a workable solution to the crisis at hand. Listen to what others say and adjust your proposal as needed. The Chair will give you 5 minutes to formally present and negotiate.

The exercise will continue alternating between informal and formal sessions, totaling no more than 1.5 hours, or until an agreeable diplomatic solution is met.

Good luck, delegates!

TOOLS FOR NEGOTIATING EFFECTIVELY

Clearly Determine Your Position And Agree On Your Strategy

  • Clarify or restate your position if it is mis-represented by one of the other stakeholder groups.
  • If during informal discussions you decide your group should change its position, discuss it with the other group members as soon as possible.

Realistically Evaluate Possible Actions Before You Propose Them

  • Are the proposals possible?
  • Will they achieve the results you want?
  • Watch for unintended consequences.

Analyze Other Groups’ Positions

  • Why do they hold that position?
  • Why do they oppose or support your proposals?
  • Can you apply pressure to make stakeholders re-evaluate their positions?
  • Can you offer any incentives to make stakeholders re-evaluate their positions?

Build Alliances

  • Identify which stakeholders share your position and which do not.
  • Do not spend all your time trying to persuade others. Listen carefully to other delegates and absorb what they are saying.
  • Try to identify common interests and concerns you share with other stakeholders.
  • Even if your end goal is different, what can you agree on with others?

Identify Incentives and Disincentives (“Carrots and Sticks”)

  • Consider what incentives you can safely offer to other groups.
  • Explain to other stakeholders the negative consequences (either direct or indirect) that may follow if they oppose your position.

General Tips

  • Separate the people from the problem.
  • Interests: Focus on interests, not positions.
  • Options: Generate a variety of possibilities before deciding what to do.
  • Criteria: Insist that the result be based on some objective standard.

QUESTIONS TO THINK THROUGH

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)?

Remember: There is no “right” or “wrong” outcome. This is not a debate in which you need to win the argument; your goal is to work together to find a workable solution. Build upon common ground and look for areas where you and other parties can agree. Where you disagree, try to create options that address the other parties’ concerns.

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