The aim of “The Negotiators” is to pull back the curtain on the often-secretive work of high-stakes negotiations, putting listeners “in the room” where lives, human rights and national interests hang in the balance. Because many critical global negotiations are conducted behind closed doors, “The Negotiators” offers a unique opportunity to hear the fascinating — and human — details straight from the key players involved.
Each episode features a mediator, diplomat, troubleshooter or another expert problem-solver who gives a gripping play-by-play of a pivotal negotiation and its eventual resolution. Season 3 covers a diverse range of conflicts — from high diplomacy to hostage ordeals to talks between rival gangs trying to bring peace to their neighborhood — all of which share a common thread: courageous discussion between individuals who put aside their personal interests for the greater good.
Amid a global surge in political vitriol and gridlock, these illuminating conversations with some of the world’s most adept negotiators remind us that in order to truly settle conflicts, we must engage in productive dialogue, seeking to bridge divides and find mutually beneficial solutions.
Doha Debates and FP Studios established a high production bar for the “Doha Debates Podcast,” in tight alignment with Doha Debates’ mission to address global challenges through productive, solutions-oriented debate. Producing a debate is different than producing a conversation — we wanted to make space for diverse and often-opposing viewpoints, but were not aiming to instigate shouting matches. With the “Doha Debates Podcast,” we wanted to encourage debates that are spirited but respectful; ones that expose our listeners — and guests — to new perspectives and maybe even challenge them to change their minds. Ultimately, we wanted listeners and guests to walk away feeling heard, inspired and spurred to action, rather than antagonized or defeated.
While carefully selecting guests who represented a range of viewpoints and were committed to engaging in our signature debate approach, we also worked to ensure that they hailed from a wide range of countries, with a specific focus on the Global South — an area of the world that is repeatedly underrepresented in or excluded from global conversations. This diversity is also reflected in our rotating line-up of acclaimed hosts. We drew on the expertise and connections of both our in-house staff and the Foreign Policy team to help us assemble the ideal roster.
Another key component of each episode — both in development and execution — is the inclusion of young voices from across the globe. At the outset, we involved current participants and alumni of Doha Debates’ Ambassador Program, an ongoing learning initiative that equips aspiring leaders from across the globe with advanced intercultural communication and negotiation skills. We polled them about topics that were of critical importance to them and their futures, using their responses to shape the arc of the season. In each debate, we also ensure that there is an opportunity for an emerging global changemaker (again, often selected from the Ambassador cohort) to ask rigorous questions of our experts in the field.
The third season of “The Negotiators” has garnered 130k+ downloads to date from 151 nations and territories. Top listener nations are the US, Canada, UK, Germany and Australia. Global reception has been enthusiastic across the board; the podcast has received a number of local and international awards, as well as national and international press coverage and reviews. Felicia Yuwono of E-International Relations writes that the podcast is “effective in making political processes that are traditionally very exclusive and closed from the public view accessible to listeners. …Likewise, the show successfully captures the complexity of not only the negotiation processes, but also the nature of conflict” (2023).
In addition, Doha Debates, in collaboration with global education experts, has developed a guide for using “The Negotiators” in secondary classrooms, which invites learners to analyze the podcast’s examples of high-level conflicts and draw parallels with their own tough conversations.