Syllabus 2 - Section C)

Doris Danzig-Jones posted 3 weeks ago, 0 Responses
The Nature of Mediation

Mediation is defined ‘as a process in which a third party neutral, the mediator, assists disputing parties in reaching a mutually agreeable resolution’ (Kovach, 2005, p. 304).

The mediation procedure is either voluntary or non-voluntary. The former is applied to prevent or settle any conflict whereby the latter is applied for international conflicts. The procedure should be based on flexibility and an open-minded treatment to construct a roadmap towards a mutual respect between the conflicting parties.

The goal of the mediation is to present the personal standpoint, which in turn enables to shed light on the underlying assumptions about the dispute and thus to create space for a better understanding between the conflicting parties. This in turn will create room for the mediator to analyse the issues in a neutral matter and finally, to mediate in carving out an arrangement.

However, there are pitfalls, which need to be avoided. The mediation process could be misused, either to gain background information or to create chaos.

I have already applied these ‘guidelines’ in family life.

The alpha and omega of mediation

The mediator should use only the information conveyed by the conflicting parties. For this reason, no further knowledge on the background of the conflict is needed. The mediation as such is an alliance of conflict analysis, crisis management and bespoke communication skills. The basis for the mediation process is that the conflicting parties wish to actively take part in the mediation. The ultimate outcome of the mediation should be a win-win situation for the conflicting parties. The mediation should be run in a smooth manner to avoid inputs that cause destruction resulting in an emotional upheaval of the conflicting parties. A sustainable solution should be the goal of any mediation, rather than a compromise. However, a compromise could be reached but only if the conflicting parties agree that they lose little and if they are convinced of the compromise.

I believe that the most important characteristics of a mediator in a mediation process are communication skills, empathy and a neutral position to thereby create an atmosphere such that all conflicting parties feel relaxed during the mediation.

The competences of the mediator

I think my competences lie in my emotional empathy and how I tune in to the emotions and needs of individuals. I can encourage people to express their thoughts and feelings without judging them. This awareness makes people feel that I understood them.

Through my work experience as an Assistant in Senior Management, I have acquired a deep sense of discretion and confidentiality. I have worked on various conflict solving issues, but I would like to learn more about the methods of mediation, even though there seems to be no framework but rather the personal ability of critical and deep thinking. Neutrality could be a challenge too. Well, that is what I would like to improve!

I was able to touch on the issue of reflexivity when I conducted interviews during my undergraduate studies. I am aware that self-reflexion and the ongoing life-long learning process is a must and an asset not only in a mediation process but in life generally. I am a keen learner, who understands and already applies self-reflexion. Lastly, the exchange of ideas with others is very important for me because of the diversity of the different angles by which a conflict could be tackled.

The mediator as a peace messenger

There are several peace messengers, who have reached out to humanity: The Pope, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. The present Pope Francis impresses me most because he reaches out continuously to the international community. He provides information and initiates dialogue on a critical scale. He continuously tries to balance not only the social but also the environmental environment in the hope of creating peace for humanity.

The United Nations (UN) is naturally very active in promoting peace. The UN (UN, no date) carefully selects people from a wide range of disciplines such as art, literature, science, entertainment, sport and other areas of public life, who agree to support and work with this idea. Additionally, inaugurated by the International Year of Peace (UN, no date a), the UN called for the voluntary initiative called United Nations Peace Messenger Cities to promote peace and mutual understanding between states. However, the scheme seems to have been active only between 1986 and 1991, which leaves me puzzled why not longer.

The mediator as a conflict manager

Staying with the UN, for me the most active and tireless person was the Brazilian diplomat Sérgio Vieira de Mello, whose career spanned over 34 years at the UN. He lost his life when the UN headquarters in Baghdad was attacked in 2003 during his peace mission. I think that he was a mediator by instinct, and it was a call for duty to him to work in the most dangerous places on Earth. I wonder whether his philosophical background paved the path for his success. The book Chasing the Flame by Samantha Power reflects on his life and his extraordinary achievements for humanity.

References
Kovach, K. (2005) ‘Mediation’ in Moffitt, M. and Bordone, R. (eds.) The Handbook of Dispute Resolution. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, pp. 304-317.

United Nations (UN) (UN, no date) Messenger of Peace. Available at: https://www.un.org/en/mop (Accessed 9 November 2020).

United Nations (UN) (UN, no date a) International Day of Peace. Available at: https://www.un.org/en/observances/international-day-peace (Accessed 9 November 2020).