Transitional Diplomacy - A Diplomat's Handbook


Diplomacy Workshops


“Transitional Diplomacy: A Diplomat’s Handbook” – a joint project between the Community of Democracies and the European Academy of Diplomacy – is a program designed for mid-career diplomats to aid in the development of a professional toolkit to be used while working with stakeholders of countries in transition.

The program is based on the Community of Democracies’ “A Diplomat’s Handbook” and is designed to present case-study experiences, specific resources available to diplomatic missions, and highlights ways diplomats have supported requests for civil society assistance.

The Transitional Diplomacy program, which aims to launch in spring 2014, will connect experienced diplomats and expert academia with diplomats currently facing the challenges of assisting states in transition. The program is modeled on a global case-study approach and will pull deeply on successful experiences of transition and 21st century model for political, social and economic transformation, peaceful revolution and reconciliation.

“Transitional Diplomacy: A Diplomat’s Handbook” supports the core mission objectives of the Community of Democracies – bridging the gap between principles of democracy and universal human rights – through the education of internal and external stakeholders on:

  • Strengthening democratic institutions,
  • Supporting civil society,
  • Defending human rights, and
  • Amplifying the voice of peaceful democratic transition.

What is the “Transitional Diplomacy” Program?

The process of becoming democratic is something that must come from within and cannot be packaged exported and implemented from outside. Transitional Diplomacy is a set of challenges and opportunities for diplomatic missions who would like to foster, empower and mentor transitional elements under authoritarian regimes. It is balancing action and direct involvement with the appearance of inaction and non-response.

Transitional Diplomacy is:

  • Supporting and advising transition without overly influencing;
  • Demonstrating democratic leadership by example;
  • Understanding that every transitional situation is unique;
  • Listening, respecting and understanding stakeholders involved in the transition
  • Responsibly reporting situations in country to external stakeholders;
  • Defending transitional democrats;
  • Facilitating dialogue between stakeholders and promoting non-violent resolutions.

Program Participants

The EAD and CoD aim to recruit 24 mid-career diplomats from:

  • Participating states of the Community of Democracies;
  • Diplomats from countries with experience of successful transition;
  • Transitional democracies;

The goal of the program is to develop a platform of experience sharing and it is our belief that this is best accomplished when stakeholders from various background can network, engage in dialogues and present solutions from various perspectives.


  • 6-day, 40 intensive hours of lectures, seminars, workshops, study visits, case studies, simulations and networking
  • Unique combination of practice and theory, allowing the participants to work through real-life simulations, as well as participate in problem-solving discussions and activities
  • International faculty of renowned world-class scholars and experienced policy practitioners
  • Diverse and Multicultural group of participants, which establishes a forum for exchanging experiences and enhancing cooperation between leaders from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East
  • Insights into the difficult tasks of decision-making with a “getting down to cases” learning model.


Transition Analysis: Past, Present & Future


In-depth analyses of successful and failed democratic transitions through a guided case-study approach is designed to give participants a clear understanding of the various keys to supporting successful democratic transitions and how to recognize and avoid previous mistakes. This block will focus on understanding the mechanics of transition: gauging the temperature of change, comparisons of violent & non-violent movements, reactions of authoritarian regimes, and post-transition paths. Upon completion of the block, participants will have developed a set of secondhand experiences based on past successes & failures, current efforts and future ideas and plans for countries most likely to undergo democratic transformation.

Case Studies

  • Poland: Solidarity to Democracy
  • South Africa: Post-apartheid Reconciliation
  • Reformasi: Post-Suharto era of Indonesia
  • Myanmar: Open for Business
  • Colombia: Peace at last?
  • The Eastern Partnership: Steps Forward, Steps Back
  • Learning from Mistakes: The Horn of Africa
  • Afghanistan: Intervention & State building
  • Analyzing the Successes and Failures of the Arab Spring
  • Syria, Egypt, Yemen: Ongoing Transitions and Revolutions

Supporting Transition

Transition Analysis gives participants experience-based knowledge on the successes and failures of past and present transitions. The Supporting Transition block will focus on developing a toolbox of skills and ‘how-to’ knowledge to prepare participants for playing an active role in democratic transition from a diplomatic standpoint. Through seminars and workshops, participants will develop answers and actionable plans to important challenges facing diplomats during periods of transition.


  • Sharing Transitional Experience from the Polish Foreign Policy Perspective
  • Using Social Media to Support Democratic Transition
  • Strategy Building for Engaging and Supporting Democratic Transition
  • Strategies for Supporting Civil Society
  • Role of the Diplomat vs. other actors

Supporting Future Diplomats

A key deliverable of the Transitional Diplomacy will be the development of an action plan: Supporting Transitioning Democracies. This report, prepared by the participants upon the completion of the Transitional Diplomacy program, will be presented to the Permanent Secretariat and the Governing Council of the Community of Democracies.

Evaluation of Activities

The Transitional Diplomacy program will undergo the following in-course evaluations and post-program surveys:

  • Daily Evaluations (in-course)
  • End of Program Evaluation (in-course)
  • 6-month survey (post-course)
  • 2-year survey (post-course)

In course evaluations, which will be conducted both daily and at the end of the weeklong program, will measure and evaluate the quality of the content of each individual course and lecturer.

Post course program surveys will measure the long-term benefits of the program and allow for the development of an global network of mid-career diplomats who can provide continual feedback and support to the European Academy of Diplomacy and the Community of Democracies, particularly in the development of further editions of both the “Diplomat’s Handbook” and the “Transitional Diplomacy” program.

Evaluations and surveys will be published to participating government ministries.


Inauguration Ceremony

  • Opening Remarks, Dr. Katarzyna Pisarska – Director of the European Academy of Diplomacy
  • Keynote Address: Ambassador Maria Leissner, Secretary General of the Community of Democracies
  • Panel Discussion: “Challenges & Opportunites of Modern Diplomacy”
  • Reception
Case Study Analyses & Discussion: Successful Transitions

  • Poland & Solidarity
  • Post-apartheid Reconciliation in South Africa
  • Reformasi: The Post-Suharto era of Indonesia


  • Introduction to the Diplomat’s Handbook

Study Visit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Case Study Analyses & Discussion: Challenges of Transition

  • Myanmar: Open for Business
  • Peace at last in Colombia
  • Steps forward, steps back in the Eastern Partnership


  • Using Social Media to Support Democratic Transition

Study Visit: ODiHR

Case Study Discussion: Learning from Mistakes

  • Horn of Africa
  • Intervention & State-building in Afghanistan


  • Strategy building for Engaging & Supporting Democratic Transition

Case Study Discussion: Middle East & North Africa

  • Successes of the Arab Spring?
  • Egypt
  • Syria
  • Yemen


  • Strategies for supporting civil society during periods of transition

Case Study Discussion: Dissecting a Democratic Transition – reflecting on case studies

  • Common Denominators of Success & Failure
  • Analysis of the Role of External Players during Transition
  • Developing an Action Plan: Supporting Transitional Democracy


  • Role of the diplomat vs. other actors

Course Evaluation

Graduation Ceremony

  • Opening Remarks: Ambassador Leissner, Secretary General of the Community of Democracies
  • Keynote Speech: Minister Radoslaw Sikorski
  • Presentation of Diplomas
  • Reception