by Clare Barclay, Australia

Professor Terrence Hopmann’s joyful and passionate countenance again graced our podium, bringing our thoughts to the theoretical considerations we need to face when both judging and acting upon potential conflict scenarios. Preventative Diplomacy in all its complexities remains in my mind the critical factor for not only securing peace, but building positive relations among all actors in the global community. One pertinent point made by Professor Hopmann related to the bureaucratic processes which oftentimes see assessments made that fail to incorporate contextual sensitivities, or even the most basic on-the-ground knowledge, in the decision-making process. Context and knowledge should be the foundations of preventative action and peace-building and that knowledge is available- we just listen to those who are living it! Nevertheless this idea speaks volumes, and recognition of it is certainly a firm step in the right direction.

Next, with our theory and ideals in tow, Professor Hopmann introduced a simulation to stretch our diplomatic limbs. With all participants now aptly referred to by the State they were to represent (being here only a few days this probably only perpetuated the confusion over names) our mission was to rewrite history- a simple task- and find a solution to the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1993.

Immediately struck by the calibre of participants I was surrounded by, things kicked off in professional style and structure. It’s a tricky thing to do, bring fifty bright-eyed and idealistic minds to the table and have them walk the thin line of diplomacy, but that is exactly what makes the Bologna Symposium unique and valuable. From students studying their first degree or fourth, to professionals in the field for two to ten years, every different experience level is counted for. And this makes for a lively discussion indeed! I’m proud to say the group defied all expectations, both in the orchestration of a cohesive and surprisingly uniting peace agreement, and in the determination of all States party to the discussion wanting the best outcome for Bosnia and Herzegovina reached…No matter how far over their diplomatic line they had to cross.