By Yuliya Chorna, Ukraine

Before arriving to Bologna I read through the participants’ bios and wondered how the Bologna Symposium would meet the expectations of such a diverse group of people. As we are diverse not only in terms of professional experience and academic backgrounds, but also in terms of cultures and lifestyles. Now, after two weeks of intense studies, I realize that the Symposium has been organized in a way to satisfy a wide spectrum of interests. For example, on Friday we were lucky to have three Speakers with unique expertise. It was a final day for skills training in negotiation taught by Dr. Anthony Wanis-St. John. He not only shared tactics used in negotiation but in turn became the model facilitator. He perfectly felt the group’s dynamics and implying his remarkable sense of humor engaged the audience and speakers into discussion. I especially liked the discussion on cross-cultural negotiations and tips on how to act as a good negotiator but at the same time prevent oneself from being taken advantage of. I also liked the point of reputation which is critical, especially if one is oriented toward building  long-term relationships. Then, the curriculum included a presentation by a mediation expert, Mr. Jeffrey Mapendere who shared his experience of mediation with rebels groups.

I cannot find the words other than just deep admiration of the courage of this man who directly dealt with various armed movements. What I found interesting, is that in preparation for mediation with rebels you need to understand both context (local, domestic and international) and the psychological processes of people you are going to talk with. It is also critical to assess the risks for yourself and the rebels if you going to meet with them. It is a tough job for a mediator to stay impartial, but this is a necessary precondition for gaining credibility and becoming known in the field. Finally, in accord with the normative framework, we had a presentation on international negotiation and principles of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) by Professor Gareth Evans, an expert who spent twenty-one years in Australian political arena, led Brussels-based International Crisis Group from 2000 – 2009 and who currently serves as a Chancellor of the Australian National University.

The remarkable feature in the debates on designing R2P was the language shift – from the right of the international community to intervene in the internal affairs of the States to the responsibility in assisting States in capacity building and if necessary intervening for protection of its population from mass atrocities. Reflecting on Friday’s experiences of participation in the Symposium and expert insights, I see the opportunity to implement the knowledge and tools of conflict prevention and resolution at different levels (micro, mezzo and macro) in the work relevant to my professional and personal endeavors.