Fourty-eight professors and students from the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, the Moscow State Institute of International Relations University and the St. Petersburg State University recently took part in a Vi tailor-made study tour in Geneva.
The week-long event was designed to complement their academic studies in economics and international relations, with exposure to the negotiation process and the workings of international trade and development organizations.
The tour included hands-on training on the use of trade-related databases and analytical tools, as well as discussions on dispute settlement mechanisms, intellectual property rights and Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Sessions were led by experts at UNCTAD, WTO, the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Students had the opportunity to interact with Geneva-based professionals, and to meet their representatives from the Russian Federation mission in Geneva.
The final interactive negotiation simulation on trade in services, in particular, generated great enthusiasm among the students. Conducted by the Chief of the Technical Cooperation Branch, Manuela Tortora, and an Expert from the Trade Negotiations and Commercial Diplomacy Branch, Antoine Barbry, students took on roles as various stakeholders from national governments, non-profit organisations and private groups, and were given the unique opportunity to apply their theoretical knowledge and to practice their communication and negotiating skills in a trade scenario.
"So now I'm really inspired to join your team next year," wrote one of the participants in the final study tour evaluation. "And then not as a student already (sic) but professional."
Based on the success of the tour, the Russian mission and the Vi member coordinators expressed their hope and support for future tours.
"I would like to express the sincere appreciation to the UNCTAD Secretariat for the hospitality and perfect organization ... for Russian students," wrote Yuri Afanassiev, Senior Counsellor of the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation. "Let me convey particular thanks to Ms. Vlasta Macku, Chief of the Virtual Institute, and all Virtual Team. This is another example of the Virtual Institute successful performance."