Internationaler Diplomatenlehrgang | IDL

The Executive Seminar for International Diplomats (Internationaler Diplomatenlehrgang), initially designed for young diplomats from Central and Eastern Europe, was initiated in 1992 by the then Foreign Minister, Hans-Dietrich Genscher. The intensive six-week course, which is held in German, has developed since then and now accommodates German-speaking diplomats from all corners of the world. Since its inception more than 900 participants from around 55 countries have taken part in this programme, many of whom now hold prominent positions.  

The programme offers a broad selection of seminars, informative visits and study tours. The main focuses are on international economic policy, peacekeeping, conflict prevention and human rights. The programme also includes practical elements such as negotiating techniques, public speaking and media training.
With a view to building collegial network that outlast the length of the programme, the course offers participants a welcome opportunity to establish new ties both with other participants and with colleagues from the Federal Foreign Office.

A report from the 46th IDL by Moly Lynn Rivera-Olds (U.S.)

Whether in the Underground, on the train, in the pub or on foot on the way to our next appointment, the discussions among the 18 diplomats from all over the world were always lively and will remain with me for a long time to come.


How often do you get the chance to ask a fellow diplomat critically but respectfully whether he has ever expressed internal criticism of the policies of his own government? How often do you get the chance to ask a diplomat personally what she really thinks – while recognising that your own country also still has a long way to go?

It is rare that you will hear other diplomats openly and honestly articulating the political challenges that their own country faces. After all, their perspectives are based on their subjective understanding of historical relations and the values and principles of a state, and can differ hugely.


Nonetheless, the diplomats on our course engaged in honest discussions of this nature. Shared experiences created the necessary framework within which they could develop: reflections on diplomacy and politics away from day-to-day responsibilities, discussions on divergent opinions, but also fun leisure activities. That forged mutual respect among the participants as well as the willingness to listen to one another, to consider what was being said and ask more questions.


As well as fostering intercultural exchange between the participants, the course broadened my perspective on and understanding of German foreign policy, as it did for all of us. Germany’s past and its consequences are closely intertwined with its foreign policy. And yet now there is a new reality, a new responsibility which is also challenging the country. Germany has to move forward and adapt its foreign policy in order to take account of the consequences of its past while strengthening Europe and the Western alliance – in the face of new forms of hostility, such as Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.


That was the thread running through all our discussions, the topic, the issue that kept cropping up: Where do Germany and Europe stand within and with regard to this new reality? What opportunities and challenges does the shifting political landscape bring with it?


Over the four weeks of the course we didn’t always find answers that satisfied us completely. But we heard ideas and views from many dedicated experts from the Federal Foreign Office, the Bundestag, the Federal Chancellery and NGOs, who are striving to find answers to the pressing issues of our times. We have great respect for this commitment and the profound honesty that characterised the talks with us. They are all working to find a balance between seemingly incompatible principles and problems. And we are all working to develop a little more appreciation for other perspectives and standpoints and to keep lines of communication open. The 46th Executive Seminar for International Diplomats definitely helped us in this goal.