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Reflections on the Current Climate – A Role for Third Siders?

This follows my blog last month about mediation and sustainability. In the run up to the vital COP meeting in Paris in December, what role for mediators and other third siders?

What should we say?

I started this piece a few weeks ago with these words: “From my balcony at nearly 2,000 metres, I can see seven vapour trails above, and as I look to the west, several more. The sky is a patchwork of misty white lines on clear blue. Below, the mountains are also a patchwork, this time a mottled white and grey. Even at this altitude in January, the snowfall is irregular and quite a few slopes are exposed. The main ski runs are open though, and that is a relief. We’ve paid a little extra to come [...]

Working on Water, again: When Collaboration meets Politics

Oz, left to himself, smiled to think of his success in giving the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman and the Lion exactly what they thought they wanted. “How can I help being a humbug,” he said, “when all these people make me do things that everybody knows can’t be done? It was easy to make the Scarecrow and the Lion and the Woodman happy, because they imagined I could do anything.”
Oz, in L Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz, Ch 16, “The Magic Art of the Great Humbug”

A couple of blogs ago, back in November last year, I discussed what seemed to be a promising and effective process for addressing complex issues of water management and allocation in New Zealand – an expressly collaborative proces [...]

How Mediation Helped Resolved Two Thousand Years Old Mystery…

There is by far no other nation that would contribute to European civilisation with such an enormous portion and that would be so easily forgotten as the Etruscans. According to some authors, their influence to nowadays’ Europe culture is at least comparable to that one of Romans or Greeks. And yet, how many people enjoying a glass of famous Italian wine Chianti know that the first grape wines in the area of Tuscany were planted by Etruscans some two and half thousands years ago? Or do you ever ponder where did the Adriatic Sea take its name from? Only few know that its origin is related to the ancient city of Hadria and that it is related to Etruscan denomination of blue colour. Or how m [...]

Where Have All The Idealists Gone? Long Time Passing

A commentary on the future of mediation, with special thanks to Pete Seeger for inspiration

A recent discussion among a seasoned group of neutrals about the struggles of the professional mediator caught my eye. Some complained that the trend in litigated cases was to reduce the value of the mediator to a commodity, due to the constraints put on them by the litigants who were not process oriented. Others viewed the responsibility of keeping the process dynamic and interesting on the mediator, the traditional guardian of the process. Whatever the reason, there was a consensus that there is a trend to marginalize the process and the neutral. This quote from an unnamed source summarizes what som [...]

Conference Report – AMATI – University of Warwick March 2015

Amati, the Association of Mediation Assessors, Trainers and Instructors, held their second international conference in Coventry at the beginning of this month. The theme was Moving Over: Developing Conversation Training and Hybrid Models in Mediation. This relatively new organisation, aimed at those of us training and assessing mediators, has the aim of “benchmarking best practice” and sharing knowledge amongst its members, which now number over 200 from numerous different countries.

The conference was attended by 25 speakers and delegates from a variety of countries and regulatory environments, which provided a rich environments for discussion and debate on many issues related to media [...]

Singapore Development – Joint Launch of the State Courts Centre for Dispute Resolution and “Mediation in Singapore: A Practical Guide”

I’d like to spend this month’s blog entry providing an update on a Singapore development. On the 4 March 2015, there was the launch of the State Courts Centre for Dispute Resolution by the Chief Justice of Singapore, Mr. Sundaresh Menon.

At the same time, Thomson Reuters also launched their book “Mediation in Singapore: A Practical Guide” which houses the contributions of a diverse group of mediators and mediation advocates in private practice, academia, judiciary and government.

This author hopes to provide a review of this book in a future entry. For the moment, this entry will focus on the State Courts Centre for Dispute Resolution.

The State Courts has had a long relationship [...]

“The Past Need Not Dictate the Future”: What Mediators Know (or Can’t Help Noticing) About Ourselves


(This is the final part of a keynote address to the YMCA Conference “From Reactions to Relations” in Burton on Trent on 20 November 2014.)

Having considered what we can’t help noticing about our clients and about conflict I now turn to the tricky business of self-knowledge: what has our unique perspective at the heart of other people’s conflict taught us about ourselves?

Once again there are three headings:

1. We ask more questions: not (only) because it’s nice but because it brings more data into the room

2. We resist the “gullibility of cynicism”

3. Most of us are conflict avoiders but some of us like it

1) We ask more questions

Mediators tend to ask a lot of questions. Th [...]

What’s your country’s mediation-friendly ranking?

As mediation seeks to claim a larger slice of the international dispute resolution pie, an increasingly important question for lawyers is: where and according to which law would I choose to have the mediation of my clients matter conducted?

Say your client is a multinational corporation doing business with numerous organizations around the globe. Your advice is to insert a dispute resolution clause with mediation as a central component. Typically we select jurisdictions with which we are familiar to do business with. Smits explains the research that backs this up. This is sometimes referred to as the status quo bias. It might be our own jurisdiction or it might be another internationally we [...]

What colour is this dress? – a mediator’s perspective

What colour is this dress?

If you haven’t been living under a rock, you may have seen this recent meme in late February that got the internet buzzing with debate. A badly lit photo of a dress spread like wildfire with some people seeing it as white and gold, while others as black and blue. If you haven’t seen it, here is an article explaining the craze and the science behind it. My initial reaction, like many others, was disbelief that so many people could be concerned with something so trivial when we have so many more important problems to discuss. However, I’ve now found a silver lining in this dress that I’d like to share.

One of the typical aspects of a dispute is that disputants often have very different perspe [...]

Meet the Author: Interview on Private Dispute Resolution in International Business, Third Edition

The publishers of this blog cordially invite you to their brief webinar for practitioners and academics in the field of arbitration and mediation on Tuesday 10th March (4pm Central European time/3pm UK time/10am Eastern Standard Time).

During this brief webinar, Professor Klaus Peter Berger, author of the third edition of Private Dispute Resolution in International Business, will share his insights on this important Book.

Professor Berger is executive director of the Center for Transnational Law (CENTRAL) at the University of Cologne. He is also President of the German Institution of Arbitration (DIS), board-member of the Arbitration Institute at the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce and a pract [...]

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