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In the course of efforts to enhance negotiation skills among aid workers, there has been little consideration given to how a humanitarian negotiator’s profile may shape outcomes.

Using semi-structured interviews and survey data, this working paper aims to fill this gap by assessing the role of identity characteristics in humanitarian negotiation processes.

Findings suggest that a negotiator’s profile can shape counterparts’ perceptions of humanitarian negotiators; fuel humanitarians’ own biases and stereotypes of their interlocutors; and feed into challenging internal organisational dynamics.

The paper is divided into three parts:

  1. General observations on the relationship between diversity and humanitarian negotiation
  2. Details of four key dimensions of diversity that interviewees and survey respondents deemed relevant to humanitarian negotiations
  3. Concluding remarks

A cohesive investment in negotiation, capacity-building, diversity, inclusion and belonging will more effectively empower humanitarian organisations to adopt a strategic approach to negotiation processes, better enabling organisations to achieve their ultimate objective: improved assistance to and protection of persons of concern.

As humanitarian organisations seek to promote diversity and foster inclusion and belonging among staff, as well as navigate how to best equip them in negotiation, this paper seeks to illustrate how these two issues are, in fact, intertwined.

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