About the series
Conflicts don’t just get resolved on their own. Most are settled through a grueling process of give and take, usually behind closed doors. On the new podcast The Negotiators, Foreign Policy is teaming up with Doha Debates to put listeners in the room. Hosted by FP deputy editor Jenn Williams, each episode will feature one mediator, diplomat or troubleshooter, describing one dramatic negotiation. You’ll hear about a nuclear standoff, a hostage crisis, a gang mediation and much more: successes and failures that shaped people’s lives.
New episodes every Tuesday, wherever you get your podcasts.
The road to repatriation
Jussi Tanner is an ambassador and special envoy with the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In late 2019, he was called on to negotiate with the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, a Kurdish-led area that’s part of Syria but has its own governing body and military units. Those units helped defeat the ISIS caliphate in 2019. They now run detention camps in the region that hold many former ISIS fighters and their families, including some foreigners. Tanner’s mission was to get the Kurdish-led government to release Finnish mothers and children in the camps for repatriation. He thought it would take just a few weeks — instead, the negotiation lasted for nearly two years.
How a motley group of negotiators freed the Chibok schoolgirls
Senior producer Laura Rosbrow-Telem interviews journalists Joe Parkinson and Drew Hinshaw, co-authors of a book about the 2014 Nigerian schoolgirl kidnappings by Boko Haram. She also sits down with Zannah Bukar Mustapha, a key mediator in the girls’ release.
The long road to Libya’s election
Libya will hold its first-ever presidential elections on December 24, after decades of dictatorship and years of civil war. The vote marks an important turning point for the country and is due in part to the creative diplomacy conducted there in recent years by the United Nations. On the podcast this week, we hear from Stephanie Turco Williams, the former head of the UN Support Mission in Libya, who oversaw much of that process. Host Jenn Williams also speaks with Hajer Sharief, a prominent peace activist in Libya and a co-founder of the organization Together We Build It. Sharief worries that the fragile peace in the country could yet unravel.
Negotiating with the Taliban
For an insider’s perspective, we hear this week from Fawzia Koofi, a former Afghan government official who sat across from Taliban negotiators throughout the talks in Doha, Qatar.
From gang member to gang mediator
An “interrupter” tells her story about preventing violence on the streets of Chicago.
Just how close did Israelis and Palestinians come to a peace deal in 2008?
In 2008, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas came close to outlining a shared vision of peace between their two nations—closer than the two sides had ever come. But what really happened in those meetings? And why did they fail to clinch a deal? This week, we hear from Khaled Elgindy, who served as an advisor to the Palestinian negotiating team during the Annapolis talks.
Inside the secret talks that led to a US prisoner exchange with Iran
In 2019, when US relations with Iran were at a low point, a non-governmental group called The Richardson Center mediated a prisoner swap between the two countries that brought home Xiyue Wang, a Chinese American graduate student. Mickey Bergman, the group’s vice president and executive director, helped direct the talks. He describes the negotiation on this episode.
Inside the grueling negotiations that led to the Iran nuclear deal
The Iran nuclear deal is one of the most significant diplomatic agreements in recent history. This week on The Negotiators, we’ll hear the inside story from Wendy Sherman, who led the US side of the negotiations as the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. She now serves as the Deputy Secretary of State.
Negotiating a peace deal is hard, implementing it is harder
On today’s show, we’ll hear from Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, the first woman ever to lead a negotiation with an armed rebel group — the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. One thing that made her effective at negotiating with the rebels? She herself was an anti-government activist during the Marcos era.
Inside the Paris Climate Agreement
On today’s show, we’ll hear from Tom Rivett-Carnac. He was the senior adviser to Christiana Figueres, who led the United Nations’ talks toward the Paris Climate Agreement. Rivett-Carnac shares many stories, including the typo that almost tripped up the whole deal, as well as the power of Buddhism, island nations and editing.