Diversity and Humanitarian Negotiation


  • Reem Alsalem Global Humanitude, Belgium
  • Rob Grace Brown University, USA




Diversity, humanitarian negotiation, identity characteristics


The humanitarian sector has steadily pushed forward with efforts to cultivate negotiation capacity among aid workers. However, considerations of how the profile of the humanitarian negotiator might shape negotiation outcomes have been, at best, in the background of ongoing professional discussions or, at worst, entirely overlooked. This working paper aims to fill this gap. Based on semi-structured interviews and survey data, this working paper assesses the role of identity characteristics in humanitarian negotiation processes. As the interview and survey results suggest, a negotiator’s profile—including identity characteristics and past professional experiences—can shape counterparts’ perceptions of humanitarian negotiators; fuel humanitarians’ own biases and stereotypes of their interlocutors; and feed into challenging internal organisational dynamics, as humanitarian organisations seek to promote diversity and foster inclusion and belonging among staff.


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Author Biographies

  • Reem Alsalem, Global Humanitude, Belgium

    Reem Alsalem is an independent consultant and Managing Director of Global Humanitude (SCS), based in Brussels, Belgium. She is also a senior associate with INCAS Consulting. She has 22 years of experience in humanitarian response, mixed migration and early recovery. Of those, she has served for 17 years with the UNHCR on all continents in conflict and post-conflict settings, including the MENA region.

  • Rob Grace , Brown University, USA

    Rob Grace is a Researcher and Affiliated Fellow at the Centre for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, based at Brown University. Previously, he was a USIP-Minerva Peace Scholar at the U.S Institute of Peace, a Graduate Research Fellow at the Harvard Program on Negotiation, and a researcher at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.


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How to Cite

“Diversity and Humanitarian Negotiation” (2021) The Humanitarian Leader, p. Working Paper 013, April 2021. doi:10.21153/thl2021volno0art1070.