This Week In Mediation

Mediation News - This Week In Mediation - Episode 5

Posted by Aled Davies on 15-Nov-2016 15:12:21
Aled Davies

In this week's video episode of This Week In Mediation, presented by Professor Nadja Alexander and Aled Davies, we report from the Kremlin where the Justice, Mediation and Social Justice Conference is taking place. We hear directly from Professor Tsisana Shamlikashvili, organiser of the conference, as she describes the drivers for the conference and reflects on the highlights. We also here directly from Mr Vladimir Pligin former legislator and Chairman of the Constitutional Committee of the State Duma of the Russian Federation was instrumental in the passing of the mediation law in Russia. Staying in that region we hear about proposed legislative amendments to simplify mediation and arbitration procedures in the Ukraine.

We then move to the land of clogs and windmills and examine some regulatory activity  taking place in the Netherlands which have been met with mixed reactions. 

We then travel further West across the pond to hear about president-elect Trump's ambitions to broker peace between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir dispute but not before he sits on the other side of the mediation table as a party in one of his many disputes.

For our final piece of mediation news we here about a heart-warming project called Roma Health Mediation that helps a disenfrachised segment of Bulgarian society engage productively in dialogue with a real impact on health and well being of members of the Roma community in that region.

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We'd love to hear your comments and questions so get the debate going there's a comments section directly underneath the video, if anything you can just say thank you to our guests for their generosity.

Topics: Mediation News

 

Mediation News TWIM 5 - The Full Transcript 

Nadja:

Hi I'm Nadja Alexander, and welcome to Mediator Academy's roundup of mediation news from around the globe. As usual, we'll try to be as informative and illuminating as possible. We might even be a little outrageous. This week, we'll be reporting from the Kremlin where the justice, mediation, and social justice conference is taking place. Together with my co-presenter Aled Davies we'll be sharing other exciting news from around the globe in this week in mediation. Welcome to the show.

Aled:

Wow, Nadja, it looked pretty chilly over there.

Nadja:

It was indeed. Glad to be back in the studio.

Aled:

Great. Hi everyone from Mediator Academy's newsroom in London, and let me tell you what we've got coming up in the show today. We'll be covering the social justice and mediation event in Moscow this week, and we'll also take a closer look at some proposed legislation regarding Dutch mediators, as well as examining a really interesting program on Roma health mediation. But first, I just want to come back to some of the comments that we received after last week's show. Now, Nadja, they say you should be careful for what you wish for. I made this big thing at the start of the show, and I said, "Put your comments in the box below. Ask your questions. We respond to." I said all of that, and the comments came flooding in. Unfortunately, the technology let us down. We had some wonderful comments, some really thoughtful, some really lengthy comments from a number of people, not from everyone, and you know who you are. No names mentioned, but we had some great comments. They came, but you can only see them on your own computer. Anyway, technology let us down. The tech guys have been working tirelessly. They haven't slept for about 98 hours trying to fix the bug in the system.

Nadja:

They haven't fixed it?

Aled:

They haven't fixed it yet. They haven't fixed it yet, so hopefully that will be done in the next 24 hours. I just wanted to say a massive thank you to those that have commented. We will be responding. Everyone else can get stuck into the conversation. Don't let the fact that our comments have let us down this time to deter you from making a comment about today's show. Right. Let's get back into the show, and find out what was happening in Moscow last week.

Nadja:

Well, Aled, I was at an event in Moscow. It's a conference on justice and mediation with a particular focus on social justice in the broader sense of the word.

Aled:

Tell us a little bit more about that.

Nadja:

Well, people came from absolutely everywhere in the Russian federation. They literally travelled thousands and thousands of kilometres to be there, and I managed to talk to the organizer of the conference, Professor Tsisana Shamlikashvili. Let's hear from her directly shall we?

 

Tsisana, we've just finished a really successful day at the conference for justice, mediation and social justice. This was your brainchild. Can you tell us a little bit about the conference and what motivated you to put this on.

Tsisana:

The conference itself, it was a conference which first of all was devoted to the anniversary of our magazine, Mediation and Law, Conciliation and Inter-mediation. This magazine, of course, first published in 2006, so now we have the 43rd one issues of the magazine. Another meaning to what this conference was devoted, even if we didn't say it very loudly and publicly. Of course, this is a very important year for ADR and for mediation because we're celebrating 110 years of [inaudible 00:04:33] speech, and 40 years of Pound Conference speech. Partly this conference was about this as well. This you see also in the title of the conference, From Justice to Social Justice, and mediation in the middle. For us and for Russian society, this is very important and was all difficulties and obstacles anyway. We started to implement mediation more than 10 years ago, and now today we've had more than 150 participants.

 

Mediation and participants from all over Russia, and we had representatives from the court. We had representatives from the different juridical professions, and also people from other disciplines and other professions as we consider mediation as interdisciplinary and inter-agency tool, and very important tool, which also gives us hope for social justice and can be seen as one of the tools of procedural justice as well. This was one of the main meanings. Also we have this competition, which we think it will be annual competition, for a festival for Russian professional mediators who really invest their efforts to contribute to implement mediation in remote regions of Russian federation, which is a huge country, and we're trying to provide access to mediation to people who live not all in big cities but also in the small cities in far regions, far corners, of the country.

Aled:

Wow sounds like there was some interesting developments going on there. Is there mediation legislation in Russia, Nadja?

Nadja:

Yes there is. I think it was 2010 that it was passed, and a link to the law is available in the references section to the show for those who are interested. We also got to talk to Vladimir Pligin. He's a former legislator and chairman of the constitutional committee of the state Duma of the Russian Federation, and he was instrumental in the passing of this mediation law. He was happy to talk to the Mediator Academy and offer some insights into his role. I started by asking him, what motivated him as a lawmaker to work so hard to make this Russian mediation law a reality.

Vladimir:

After the changing of the political, economical system of the Russian federation, of course, we were facing a new [inaudible 00:07:36] reality. Because of this new reality, there were tremendous amount of different court cases. We estimated the whole amount approximately today, approximately 20 million different cases. Of course, it is a big problem. It is also a big problem for the court system of the Russian Federation, and we believe that mediation, it is the only and very important tool to resolve these conflicts, to resolve the conflicts in the peaceful, in negotiation, way. That's why we are supporting [inaudible 00:08:16]. We are supporting the system or introduction of mediation processes in the Russian Federation.

Nadja:

Thank you very much sir. And what were the obstacles on the pass of this law?

 

Vladimir:

Of course, it is necessary to import the mediation procedures into the law culture of the Russian society. It's usual, it takes several years. We are following the same experience in the different countries of our world, and we are absolutely sure that we will have success in this movement because even today, a lot of cases now are resolving here in Russia. We have the participation of mediators. It is very important that a lot of institutes of our civil society are supporting the mediation procedures, and also our legislators are ready to cooperate with them. Also, in their problem of improvement of federal law concerning the mediation procedures.

Aled:

Wow what a coup to get him on the show. Well done, Nadja.

Nadja:

Yeah, thank you. I think this is the face to watch because my understanding is that there are some more initiatives to introduce some further legislation, in particular in relation to stronger incentives for people to use mediation.

Aled:

Okay. What else is going on in that region?

Nadja:

Well, the Ukrainian bar association have just held something called the Kiev Arbitration Days. While the focus is on arbitration, it does look at ADR in general. I think, also, the interplay of mediation and mediation windows in arbitration procedures. I had read that among other things, the parliament in the Ukraine is considering legislative amendments to simplify mediation and arbitration procedures, and therefore to make them more attractive.

Aled:

Okay. Something that came across my desk today. Here in London, home of Mediator Academy, the Commonwealth of Independent States Arbitration Forum will be holding an event in January 2017, focusing on international dispute resolution involving Russian and Commonwealth of Independent States, or CIS, parties. ADR is certainly a hot topic in this part of the world, and it continues to be in the Netherlands as well, right?

Nadja:

Indeed. There's regulatory activity in relation to mediation continuing really all around the world. We know that there are mediation bills in Ireland, in Singapore, and in the Netherlands. In the case of the Netherlands, it's particularly interesting, I think, because they're one of the very few civil law European countries with a well-developed mediation practice, and to date, without a comprehensive, general mediation statue. In other words, they've been using many soft law regulations and very successfully, but now they've come out with a mediation bill. The reaction seems to be mixed from the mediation communities. Basically there are some provisions on the establishment of a mediation advisory body in the Netherlands. There are proposed revisions on incentives to use mediation, on certain rights and obligations on mediation participants, all of this sort of is fairly straight forward. Some of the controversial provisions are in relation to mediators, accreditation of mediators and what mediators need to do to maintain their status as professional mediators.

Aled:

Well, now you've got me interested. Tell us about that.

Nadja:

Well, listen to this. The proposed statute envisages, first of all, that they'll be a national register of sworn in mediators under the supervision of the government. Then, that courts and government bodies will be referred to only those mediators who are on that register, not to outside mediators. Then, there's a requirement that to keep your meditation or mediator's status as a registered mediator that you do 12 mediations per year or a minimum of 120 hours of professional mediation per year. Then, there's also a provision around supervision of mediators, so that mediators will have to have supervision as well.

 

According to Martin Brink, who's posted a piece on the Kluwer mediation blog, these are provisions have met with some mixed reactions, and he says that many mediators may not even qualify for the proposed register. The requirement of 12 mediations per year seems to be much higher than many other European countries, where the number is around two, on average. We're in a phase of the development of mediation where practice is in many, many European countries slow and increasing. There are mediations sort of everywhere, and they're definitely not limitless. Some people say this is an attempt to create a small, elite caterer of mediators who get to do all the work, or create two levels of mediators. One's on the register, and one's not. I guess we'll see.

Aled:

Mediation seems to be developing well in the Netherlands. Why have a bill?

Nadja:

There is also a suggestion that the bill tries to fix a problem that does not exist. Mediation has indeed developed well in the Netherlands, and they've been a leading jurisdiction in many regards. They've developed their own structured environment with quality standards, supervision, and ongoing education in softer regulatory framework. I think we really have to watch the space. It's still a bill. The legislation hasn't passed yet. Who knows. There may be some amendments before that occurs. We'll let you know.

Aled:

We certainly will. What's interesting about that is it opens up the whole question of who can offer mediation services. It's a hot topic. It has been for a while, and it continues to be. I suspect that President elect Trump might have a view on that.

Nadja:

Do tell, Aled.

Aled:

Trump as mediator. I read in, I think, it's the Indian Times, just last week that he's already offered his services, at a track one level, and Pakistan has welcomed his offer to mediate between Pakistan and India on the Kashmir dispute. Very interesting. What I'm most curious about is I wonder what style of mediation we could expect to see from the president elect.

Nadja:

Well, I'm not sure, but it makes me think about the story we brought in the first episode of this week in mediation that was researched, which was published in the Harvard Business Review about the antagonistic mediator. Sometimes having a mediator that both parties don't like helps the parties join forces and reach an agreement just to get out of the mediation room. I'm just wondering if that might be a possibility.

Aled:

Look, I think you bring a whole new meaning to the idea of an antagonistic mediator. It also sounds like he wants to experience mediation from the other side of the table, Nadja.

Nadja:

According to The Guardian, Trump's legal calendar is fairly full, in the sense that he's involved in quite a few court cases, some of which have been set down for mediation. The president elect is doing Celebrity Chef Jose Andres for pulling out of his just opened Washington DC. hotel. The matter is set down for mediation on the 29th of November, just a few weeks away. It makes me wonder whether it makes you a better mediator if you've actually been a party in a mediation, or been involved in a mediation in another capacity, other than mediator.

Aled:

That's an interesting question. I think that would make a great question of the week. What do you think? Do you think participating in a mediation, other than in the role of mediator is an advantage and harnesses your capacity to mediate effectively, makes you a better mediator, or not? Let us know. Pop them in the comments below. We promise we'll have it fixed by the next show.

Nadja:

On the theme of nourishment, but not the restaurant or hotel kind, let's return to the theme of social justice. Aled, tell us what's happening in Bulgaria and Romania in health mediation and the community. This is intriguing.

Aled:

It is. Roma health mediation is a project funded by an organization called the IOM. I think that stands for the International Organization of Migration. The aim of the project is to reduce the health disparities in several of the European countries, namely Bulgaria and Romania. The programs differ, but in general there are groups of mediators who are also members of the Roma community. They're trained to ensure that the Roma community can access basic health and education, things that they're entitled to, right. Now these mediators have accomplished quite a number of things. They've helped increase vaccination rates among Roma. They've helped clients in the Roma community obtain identification and insurance documentation. They've provided health education to Roma children and adults. They've improved healthcare provider knowledge and attitudes towards the Roma community.

 

Now context here, right. There are 700,000 Roma living in Bulgaria. There are 150 of these full-time mediators that serve that entire community. As I mentioned earlier, they're making an impact. There was a measles epidemic, I think, a number of years ago, a few years ago, maybe three or four years ago, which killed about 24 children. This group of health mediators, in conjunction with the health authorities in Bulgaria, were able to get 180,000 children vaccinated in two months. I think they did it in two months, and it stopped the epidemic in its tracks. Despite the success of this program, Roma health mediators remain plagued by several challenges. They earn very low salaries, I think about 150 Euro a month. If I think about it, it's probably a lot more than a lot of the mediators in the UK earn, but that's another story.

Nadja:

They're not full-time. These people are full-time, right?

Aled:

They're full-time, full-time commitment. They've got limited professional development opportunities. They lack adequate supervision and support. It's a lovely story. It's a story of a community coming together. Now it's not a model of community mediation that I'm familiar with, but that's me trapped in my own thinking. What is interesting is how mediation, or these mediators, are helping a disenfranchised segment of society that experience cultural discrimination, social exclusion, poverty, how they help them engage productively in dialogue. What does this make you think of, Nadja?

Nadja:

Well, I think it challenges the parameters of what many of us understand mediation to be, at least in the west, right? What's the interface between mediation and other sorts of community work or other sorts of conflict engagement? I think it's useful. You used the phrase being trapped in your own thinking. I think it's useful always to challenge that, and I think this story certainly does that. It also challenges notions of neutrality and partiality. Are these mediators acting as neutrals between two or more parties, or are they working with parties in conflict and really engaged with them, I guess, against the conflict if you like? I think it challenges on lots of levels, and it also reminds me that the link between conflict and lack of health, like conflict and sickness. When we are in conflict, it's not good for our bodies. There are physiological consequences of that as well. Shouldn't conflict engagement and conflict resolution and mediation be linked to health. In a way, there's a logic to that. It's a great story.

Aled:

It's a great story. It's a lovely story. It's a heart-warming story, and a story I'd like to end the show on. That's it for this week in mediation. It's been a pleasure, and we look forward to seeing you all next week. It's left to me to say goodbye from Mediator Academy in London and ...

Nadja:

Goodbye from Mediator Academy in Berlin.

Aled:

See you next week.

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