Benefits of Mindful Mediation for fragile states

Note on how to cite this journal: Author, Date of the post, WMO Conflict Insight, Title of the post,  ISSN: 2628-6998, https://worldmediation.org/conflict-insight )

Mindfulness encompasses the mental ability to develop responsibility for oneself to assist one in solving current life issues and challenges. Unless an individual can understand him/herself, they cannot understand others. For that matter, mindful mediation is a holistic process of conflict resolution founded on a blend of evidence-based simulations and techniques through the use of inmate personal competencies and abilities in decision making (Purser & Milillo, 2015). The mediators, in this case, develop patience, open and broad-mindedness, and empathy elements to prevent any ethical pitfall in the mediation process.

Fragile states usually have weak state capacity and poor state legitimacy exposing the citizens to vulnerabilities and range of shocks due to poor governance and conflict.  In most cases, the governments of these nations are unable to control much of its territories, provide public services and social amenities, and handle crimes and corruption, among others (Zoellick, 2018). Hence, they experienced massive emigration to the neighborhoods to seek refuge and peaceful environment. Besides, they suffer severe economic decline and, economic inequality and often seek help from the international community. 

Moreover, they consist of political breakdowns like the rise of factionalized elites, suspension of arbitrary application of the law and delegitimization of the state. Examples of these states include my country, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, and Venezuela, to mention a few. Political disturbances have to raven peaceful state of these nations hence making them the most fragile and conflicting states in the world today. Currently, there is an intense conflict in Sudan since the toppling of the 30 years autocratic, dictatorial and corrupt president, Omar Al Bashir. For that matter, the country stands to be the most fragile, and mindful mediation is necessary for the revival of peaceful coexistence and harmony. The objective of this study, therefore, seeks to elaborate on the benefits of mindful mediation for the fragile states. Such benefits include:

Less costly and Time-Saving Compared to Civil Litigation

Unlike other forms of conflict resolution such as legal litigation mindful mediation has several benefits, especially for the fragile states that require unity to champion for their nation’s growth and development. The first benefit for this kind of conflict resolution is that it is less costly and time-saving compared to civil litigation hence will save the country from incurring any funds and consuming much time trying to create peace at the expense of their development (Georgakopoulos, 2017). Mindful mediation requires agreement by the two conflicting parties by first understanding their needs and later comprehends the essentials of the other. In the fragile states like Venezuela, most citizens live poor lifestyles with low income and poor social services to meet their daily basic needs. 

Regardless of the approach that they shall take, the ultimate objective should be a transformation of the people’s lives and improvement of the country’s economy. Mindful mediation is, therefore, a better approach to solve the disputes not only in this country but also in Syria and Sudan that experience conflict due to similar reasons. The process will be cost effective for the country since the preparation usually is more comfortable as compared to civil litigation, there is no need of legal experts hence no court fees and related charges, and can be held anywhere at the comfort of the rivaling parties (Rasmussen & Pidgeon, 2011). Besides, the process typically takes less than a week for the parties to agree; hence, it is time-saving, unlike the legal channels that are bureaucratic and time-consuming. The mediator is also well conversant with the issue at hand and only comes as a neutral party to guide the disputants out of the conflict hence does not require much time to investigate like in other processes. As a result, the fragile countries will sort out their issues faster and focus on the transformation and reformation of the affected countries.

Fosters Unity by Allowing the Disputants to Work Together

Mindful mediation is a win-win process where there is no loser and gainer like another process as legal arbitration. In courts, the jury makes final decisions on who is right and who is wrong, and the parties are obliged to abide by their verdict. This kind of conflict resolution has caused more harm than good to fragile states where most individuals usually fight for self-interests. When the National Assembly in Venezuela invalidated the re-election of President Nicholas Maduro, he moved to Supreme Court that disregarded such actions and upheld the election (Ponceleon, 2019). In this case, it implied that the opposition leader Juan Guaido, who receives much support from the parliament and the western countries lost. The decision of the Supreme Court did not solve the underlying situation but only worsened it. 

Unlike such forms of conflict resolution, mindful mediation listens to the views of both parties and grants the chance to work together towards the transformation and reformation of the country. For instance, during the 2007 election in Kenya, the incumbent President and opposition leader disagreed over the election results plunging the country into serious violence. The adversity of the situation attracted the attention of the international community and humanitarian groups leading to the United Nations (UN) intervention through mediation. The primary mediators in the process were the former late UN Secretary General, Koffi Annan and the then Tanzanian President (Sharma, 2015). Eventually, the parties agreed to work together where one became the president and the other the prime minister. Unlike the case in Venezuela where one became the winner and other the loser, mediation gave both disputants the chance to work together that led to development and reformation of the country. Therefore, mindful mediation is essential as it grants opportunity for both opposing parties hence enhance peaceful existence and economic development in the fragile states.

Enhance Positive Relationship between the Disputants

Mediation involves interaction between the two aggrieved parties to quell the risen temperatures and hatred, unlike the legal litigation that views the conflicting parties from an individual perspective. The mediation process involves negotiation between the two sides to reach an all-satisfying solution to the matter at hand systems (Boutellis & Zahar, 2017). The party present both of their interests and wishes to come into terms. Through the help of the mediator, such interests are harmonized so that everyone’s need is taken into account. Thus it is a win-win process. 

Fragile countries are generally underdeveloped and socially divided along with various factors like ethnic alienation, political groups, and unequal share of public resources, among others. For that matter, the foremost stewardship that can fuel peace, harmony, and economic growth is unity since rendering one a loser, and the other winner will only worsen the situation (Del Ceno, 2013). Mediation, therefore, is significant since it preserves a positive relationship by creating an all binding solution through negotiation. It heals and encourages direct communication between the parties that will be reflected in their supporters, thus necessary for the improvement and enrichment of such states like Sudan and Somalia.

Comprehensive, Rapid and Customized Agreements

Normally, the courts have a bureaucratic system and procedure of handling matters. Despite a long time that it may take in one level to seek the issues, a party who is not satisfied proceeds to appeal such verdicts since no one is always ready to lose. On the contrary, mediation often begins at early stages of disagreement and involves the parties in a comprehensive discussion to deduce the best way forward that both parties embrace. Moreover, the process takes into account legal and extra-legal matters such as procedural and psychological issues that are rarely considered in the civic litigation systems (Boutellis & Zahar, 2017). It goes into a broader context to study the reactions and feelings of each and educate them on how to handle such situations. 

For that matter, mindful mediation places the power of decision making on the hands of the disputants. Since both disputants will be aware of the consequences of their actions, they will have more control over the outcome of their dispute settlement. In this case, the parties always stay mindful and take ways that promote peace and harmony (Haynes, Haynes & Fong, 2012). Such kinds of agreements are better towards economic, social, and political development of the fragile states. For instance, as Switzerland played a significant mediation role in 2016 to facilitate negotiation between the Columbian government and FARC rebels that led to the signing of a peace treaty between the disputants.  

 Compliance and Long Lasting Solution

The conflicting parties in the fragile countries are always very radical and violent to obtain what they need despite the pinned legal consequences. Mostly, these cases do not succeed in the legal framework since everyone is determined to prove their might towards obtaining their interests both as an individual and group of supporters (Rasmussen & Pidgeon, 2011). For that matter, the disputants regularly defy the civic litigation outcomes and embrace personal channels, which prolong and deteriorate the situation.

However, mindful mediation begins by first allowing the parties to contemplate about themselves and understand their issues before coming to the table. Unlike legal channels, which are subjective and involuntary, arbitration is always objective and voluntary. Therefore, the parties negotiate and reach their agreements and vow to comply with the terms. The arbitrator, in this case, does not impose the solutions on the parties as it would be in other techniques hence the party find the final resolutions favorable and quickly implement them leading to the reformation of the underlying situation for long-lasting peace.

Effective Governance 

Conflicts have prolonged poor governance in the fragile states, promoted corruption, and hindered the delivery of social amenities to the citizens. Besides, it has led to a violation of constitutions and human rights, making such countries less favorable for human habitat (Clark, 2013). For instance, the on-going war in Syria had led to several constitution breaches and violation of human rights through the use of chemical weapons to kill innocent civilians. There have been humanitarian crimes of manslaughter and killings since the onset of the war between the ruling autocratic government and the opposition. Similarly, the conflict in Venezuela has paralyzed government operations such that it is incapable of providing social amenities like food, medical care, and clean and safe water to mention a few.

Mediation seeks to create peaceful existence among the national leaders to focus on the protection of the constitution and provision of social amenities to its people. This benefit has not is highly sabotaged and eliminated in the fragile states. For instance, the toppled President of Sudan was charged with corruption and constitutional breaches that have kept the country in hardship and poverty. However, other fragile states that resorted to amicable mediation have shown significant progress towards proper and effective governance that protects the constitution and human rights. Ethiopia and Rwanda have achieved the highest rates of transformation with effective leadership and focus on improving service delivery and eliminating corruption in their states due to successful mediation (Clark, 2013). Hence, mediation is crucial for fragile states to eliminate corruption, safeguard the constitutions, and promote effective governance.

Elimination of Gender-Based Violence and Child Abuse

The fragile war-ravaged countries experience several challenges that derail human rights and dignity like sexual assault especially against females. The ladies are sexually harassed by the rebel militants in the process of fighting against each other (Clark, 2017). Besides being brutality from the strangers, the women always face domestic violence from their intimate due to lack of civilization and the perception of male supremacy over female beings. 

Moreover, children always face brutality and mistreatment that goes against their rights. Young children as low as below 15 years are used as a medium of transporting weapons hence exposing them to dangers and threats associated with war. Such children do not obtain basic needs like education, proper healthcare, and parental care, among others. In most cases, the fathers join militant groups or are killed by the rebels leaving the women with the entire responsibility of the family. Due to these challenges, several humanitarian groups have stepped up to rescue the women and children from the hostility of conflicts. As a result, various negotiations have been employed with some showing success while others are failing. For instance, the efforts of Switzerland to mediate in Somalia have failed on most occasions that have left the country in conflict hitherto. Other nations, such mediation have been prosperous include Burundi, Colombia, and Indonesia etcetera reached a peaceful agreement with Switzerland as the mediator (Mohdin, 2017). Thus, issues of gender-based violence and child abuse have declined substantially hence an equal society that honors human rights and dignity. 

Educates and Empowers the Disputants

Further, mindful mediation is always educative, unlike other forms of mediation. Mediation plays a significant role in educating the rivals on various aspects of negotiation and how to negotiate successfully. In other forms of conflict resolution, there the parties charged of resolving the dispute do not educate the conflicting individuals but uses such knowledge to reach their agreement where in most cases they determine the winner and the loser (Crocker et al., 2015). However, mediation seeks to illustrate the entire process of negotiation to the parties so that they reach an agreement on their own. The parties will not only solve the disputes but also get empowered and feel valued. The skills learned in the process helps the parties to bring the disputing followers together and settle the matters amicably. Besides, the parties can solve future issues at early stages before deterioration hence enhances long-lasting peaceful existence in such fragile states. 

Enhanced Economic Development and Growth

Some conflicts occur in resource-rich countries like Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The impacts of conflict in such states led to a low level of economic development and growth. Despite the attempted mediations in these countries, any long-lasting success towards peaceful coexistence has not actualized through the intensity of war has significantly reduced. Foreign and domestic investors are always afraid of putting their resources in places where losses are evident (Herbert et al., 2011). As a result, most different countries like Iran, South Suda, and DRC have basked at the shame of poverty, corruption, and hunger. 

Through the mediation process, the conflicting parties can learn about the impacts of conflicts towards poor social and economic systems. Conflict is usually a significant barrier that hinders development in any place, regardless of the resources available. Consequently, the international communities have established various strategies to mediate between conflicting states to help champion for economic development. A successful mediation will lead to a serene environment that attracts foreign investors to invest in areas like agriculture for food security, infrastructure and roads for industrialization and education for civilization amongst other sectors in the economy (Herbert et al., 2011). For instance, most countries that have mediated their differences amicably have received support from organizations like the World Health Organization to improve the health of its people hence strengthening human capital that is very key in industrial revolution and economic growth. 

Improved International Relations and Trade

Some fragile countries occasionally face global actions such as blockade and sanctions, thus limiting their regional and international trade activities. For instance, the US placed sanction against the government of Venezuela that has adversely affected its relations with the western and European countries (Grant, 2019). Besides, the blockade has paralyzed the operations of the government, which is unable to acquire essential products such as medicine from the United States. Similarly, fragile states are exposed to transnational organized crime that interferes with the peace of the country. For instance, Syria experiences transnational organized attacks from the Islamic States in Iraq (ISIS) who joined to help the opposition topple the government of President Bashar Al-Assad (Bijlani, 2017). 

For that matter, fragile nations have adverse international relationship and activities, which eventually negatively affects their economy. Mindful mediation will play a critical role in rectifying the situation in these countries to enhance their regional and international operations towards proper governance and growth of the economy ((Haynes, Haynes & Fong, 2012). Therefore, fragile countries like Venezuela should embrace mediation and calm the country to eliminate international barriers towards the improvement of trade and good relations. Otherwise, the situation shall worsen to hinder their economic development and transformation goals hence lag by failing to meet the Global Sustainable Development Goals. 

Conclusion

In a bid to help the fragile conflict countries, the World Bank adopted two reports to address the issue through substantial and sustained investment to strengthen legal institutions and governance. The institutions should, in turn, offer security and justice, create employment opportunities and transform the social welfare and lifestyles of their people. Besides, the European Nations adopted the idea of resilience technique to handle such issues and mediate to enable fragile countries to transform and enjoy the benefits of mediation (Clark, 2013). Further, the Busan High-Level Forum on Aid in 2011 reached a consensus on how to assist the states to get out of fragility. The UNDP main strategic plan is to dismantle the complicated fragility and poverty in conflicting countries and enhance a better future for such people. 

As a result of the plight of the fragile state globally, the international communities through various organizations like the UN, UNDP, WHO and World Bank, among others are focused on transforming the situation in such countries. The United Nations have fostered for mediation activities in various fragile countries such as South Sudan, Colombia, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, Sierra Leone, Syria and Israel among others (United Nation, 2017). Despite the failures of others, the countries that have successfully mediated live to enjoy the benefits discussed above. It is therefore worth concluding that mindful mediation is crucial towards transformation and reformation of the fragile countries to achieve the established Global Sustainable Development Goals. 

References

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Ponceleon, P.T., (2019). Recognizing Juan Guaido risks a bloody civil war in Venezuela. The Guardian. Retrieve from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/feb/05/juan-guaido-venezuela-maduro

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1 Comment on Benefits of Mindful Mediation for fragile states

Great insights into another field of mediation and conflict resolution!

What role could Peace Education, a concept developed and implimented by UNICEF in some countries around the world, play in mindful mediation. Will mindfull mediation gain momentum in such countries do to the versality of its citizens – competences build from childhood?

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