Interview to Jorge Mestre: “Citizens will demand to politicians to defend their country’s national interests in the international arena”

The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the Universidad Europea de Valencia (UEV) developed the Master in International Leadership and Negotiation to prepare students to lead global initiatives for change and provide them with the necessary negotiation skills to positively impact their organization and environment. To learn more, we interviewed the director of the Master, Jorge Mestre (pic on the right).

1. Has the Covid-19 changed the geopolitical equilibrium? What are the geopolitical challenges the world will be facing in the upcoming years?

I would distinguish two periods fundamentally linked to the Trump era and the Post-Trump period, which are precisely associated with the advent of vaccination campaigns. In the first one, it was a moment in which the United States and other large countries acted with significant disorientation and without a clear policy to face the pandemic. Some countries gave importance to the restrictions, others tried not to harm their economies, and other nations tried intermediate formulas. In all that first part before the extension of vaccination, China acquired a meaningful role since it seemed to have become a model of a state capable of overcoming the pandemic in a short period and returning to the path of economic growth. We should not forget the concepts of “Mask Diplomacy” that served the Chinese state to increase its soft power capabilities. However, as vaccination campaigns began to spread and control measures began to relax, doubts and questions about the origin of the pandemic intensified. The possible beginning of the pandemic in a Wuhan laboratory is no longer part of the pandemic’s conspiracy theories. It could seriously damage China’s influence in the West during the last year and a half. For this reason, I believe that although the beginning of the virus is never fully confirmed in a laboratory, the US needs a narrative that tries to distance China from its partners in the West, and that convinces public opinion. In the Internet age, it is no longer enough for a government to extend its good relations with its counterparts in another country. It is now more necessary than ever to win the hearts of civil society, and, in that sense, the EU and the US have replaced rearmament wars for information wars. I do not want to say that investment in defence has declined. Nevertheless, the creation of divisions within NATO and the EU dedicated to combating disinformation campaigns is remarkable, which is nothing other than defending against everything seen as an attack on their vital interests.

2. Do you think the new generation is ready to face the new political landscape that emerged after the Covid-19 crisis?

It is still too early to confirm, but it should be. It seems clear is that in those Western regions where there have been electoral processes in the middle of the pandemic, there has been a change in the political cycle. The best-known cases have been the USA or Italy, but we will soon see what happens in France, Germany and even Spain.
The pandemic has reduced the credibility of citizens in their political leaders because most of them were neither prepared nor recognized the importance of Covid-19 nor were they able to react in time. Millions of people have died worldwide, and each of us knows friends or relatives who have experienced dramatic situations due to the pandemic. All this means that individuals in the West have become more demanding in matters such as accountability, proximity, transparency, or their political authorities’ leadership.

3. Why is it important to study “international leadership and negotiations” in the current world?

Just as the international financial crisis of ten years ago caused the emergence of political parties of the far right or far left, now citizens will be more demanding with all their politicians. They will demand that they are not just national leaders focused on domestic politics but also lead in the international arena to defend their country’s national interests. And indeed, the negotiating capacity of a leader is essential here. A leader without negotiating skills cannot be a leader.

4. How the Master is structured, and which classes are available to study?

The Universidad Europea is the largest private university in Spain. Its campus in Valencia has created an innovative Master degree with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). The Master in International Leadership and Negotiation ( aims to prepare students to lead global initiatives for change and provide them with the necessary negotiation skills to impact their organization and environment positively. The UNITAR – UEV Master in International Leadership and Negotiation will start in October 2021. Nine thematic modules (leadership skills; conference diplomacy; mediation; stakeholder engagement,…) related to the fields of leadership and negotiation will be delivered over ten months. The blended learning system will allow students to combine the Master with other professional or educational activities.
In addition, we will provide a highly prestigious staff of experts and teachers made up of diplomats, UN members, workers from international organizations, consultants, etc.

5. Is there any extracurricular activity for the students (such as field trips, debating club, guest lectures etc)?

Yes, the Master model has been designed to implement an efficient approach to professional reality. All modules contain case study assignments that allow students to learn about a problem in the study area. There is also a study trip planned to the UN headquarters to learn about the activity of dozens of international leaders, and there is a workshop scheduled for the end of the Master in Valencia, Spain, a Mediterranean city that stands out for its flow of cultures and internationality.