Human Rights Conference – Agenda Setting Meeting
(adapted from Kent Kille, “Simulation the Creation of a New International Human Rights Treaty: Active Learning
in the International Studies Classroom” International Studies Perspectives, 2002 3 (271-290).
This simulation models an international preparatory meeting to set the agenda for a conference to create a new
international human rights treaty. Five separate countries will be involved in the negotiations and will discuss what
rights, if any, should be covered in the treaty (i.e. civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural); and
whether or not particular groups should be singled out for protection in the treaty (i.e. women, children, ethnic or
racial minorities, religious groups, indigenous peoples seeking self-determination and disabled peoples). The goal of
the agenda-setting meeting is to determine which topics, groups, or rights (broadly or narrowly defined) will be on
the table, and which will be off the table. You should try to come to consensus, but negotiations may fail or be
supported by only some countries. Wordsmithing will be a matter for the actual negotiating meeting (not simulated
here); while you may choose to include or exclude some quite specific rights, you are not required to decide on how
they will be written at this stage. Some countries may choose not to participate in the multilateral process, but
instead focus on making bilateral arrangements.
Your country is represented by diplomats and a human rights advocate, who you have recruited from a non-
governmental organization to be part of your delegation. The human rights advocate is cognizant of their countries
interests and situation, but because they are not a government representative, they are not bound by their country’s
Pre-Negotiation (15 mins)
The T.A. will divide you into groups of at least 4 and assign you a country scenario. Write your first names
alphabetically on a sheet of paper. The first person on the list will be a diplomat ranked at the Ambassador level.
The last person on the list will be the human rights advocate. Any other students will be diplomats.
(Low-Ranking Diplomat – add names if necessary):
Human Rights Advocate (NGO):
1. You have 10 minutes to assign roles and decide which human rights should be included in the treaty. The
Ambassador will chair this portion of the meeting.
Indicate whether you will include the following categories of rights (if any):
▯ civil and political
▯ cultural Indicate whether particular groups (if any) will be singled out for protection:
▯ women’s rights
▯ children’s rights
▯ rights for the disabled
Determine whether there are any more specific rights you wish t