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The Negotiation Campaign

Negotiations are like political campaigns. It is an organized effort to influence decision makers. “How” and “When” to begin the campaign are fundamental questions to examine before actually engaging in the formal negotiation. Consider the first presidential campaign of Barack Obama. While the election was in 2008, the campaign began before 2004 when the Democratic Party identified Obama as a rising star and selected him do the keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. It was in that speech that he famously set the stage for his own political future by stating: “there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America; there’s the United States of America. There’s [...]

Risk and reconciliation

This blog entry will take a more personal tone than have earlier ones – though it’s in the nature of blogs and the more informal style that they have all said something of the experience of the writers. I want to explore here the role of mediation in providing the opportunity for reconciliation, and to see reconciliation as something wider than the more obviously conflict-saturated settings, such as post-Apartheid South Africa, post-conflict Rwanda, and so on. While I’ll start with a more dramatic setting, I do wonder whether there’s an element of reconciliation – or rapprochement – in many ‘normal’ mediations: a movement towards each other, by the parties, fostered by the setting, [...]

Deal or no deal in high profile hockey case?

Hockey is a deeply ingrained part of the Canadian identity so it’s not surprising that the Country has been abuzz this week around the question: “Has a high profile 10-year old case been settled through mediation or not?”

The case, Moore v. Bertuzzi et al,  arose from events that occurred during a National Hockey League (NHL) match in March 0f 2004. The incident has its own Wikipedia page which can be viewed here. The ending of Steve Moore’s career spawned a decade long law suit which was coming to trial next month. The trial would have generated considerable interest as it would have involved a full expose of the so-called “fight culture” of the NHL (see here for example); not something th [...]

When the Mediators Pay the Highest Price

Recent development in the Near East reminds how long and disastrous the Arabic-Israeli conflict is. Unfortunately, it has already claimed thousands of victims and every one of these tragedies could narrate a specific and sad story. One among them is especially important to be commemorated since it recounts a life and work of the first UN mediator who had saved thousands of prisoners in the Second World War and who was later killed carrying out his duties.

Folke Bernadotte, the Count of Wisborg was born in Stockholm into the House of Bernadotte on 2nd January 1895 as a grandson of King Oscar II of Sweden. He was raised in almost ascetic and simple manner which has shown to be an advantage lat [...]

Time for a Mediator’s Hippocratic Oath?

It is one of the defining characteristics of professions whose stakeholders invest great trust in their practitioners. Doctors make the Hippocratic Oath. Accountants, lawyers, police officers, elected officials, social workers, veterinarians and others in a position of trust also make various forms of oaths. Almost always there is a code of professional conduct and disciplinary process to back up the oath.

Yet mediators do not make an oath, even though mediators are invariably taken into parties’ trust. Many mediators do not visibly subscribe to a specific code of ethics that is governed by any kind of disciplinary process.

Should mediators make a Hippocratic-style oath? To mobilize debate [...]

Wage Peace, Not War

“Peace is not the absence of conflict. One must wage Peace as much as others wage war”.

I do not know from whom this quote originated or whether my unconscious has unwittingly amalgamated two different quotes. I only know that I feel the need to spend this month’s entry writing about peace and this quote speaks to me.

Maybe it’s because the news has been inundated with stories of humans firing missiles at one another. Or maybe it’s because a civilian airliner had been shot down because it was mistaken to be a military aircraft.

This isn’t the first time I have dedicated a blog entry to the topic of peace. My entry for February 2013 talks about Ronny Edry’s attempts to build peace from t [...]

The Physical Dimension of Mediation: lessons from Africa


I have written before on this blog about ‘mediating from the neck up’: my conviction that I was taught (and teach) a rationalistic, even cerebral, process that privileges thought over emotion and language over movement (see ).
As I acknowledged at the time, having this insight and doing something about it are two quite different propositions. How in practice do we mediate with the whole person?

Last week I witnessed a startling illustration of the power of the physical realm in our work. Strathclyde Law School (Glasgow, Scotland) runs an annual mediation summer school with John Marshall Law School (Chicago, Illinois) [...]

Pilot Mandatory Mediation Program in New York

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. The judiciary in the Big Apple took an important step for promotion of mediation. On July 28, the Commercial Division in New York County Supreme Court introduced a pilot mandatory mediation program.


In 1993 New York pioneered in creating a specialized commercial court to handle complex business lawsuits. Commercial Division judges regularly decide cutting-edge legal issues. However, with a mushrooming docket, the Commercial Division has become a victim of its own success. The new mandatory mediation Pilot Project is designed to override attorney resistance to opt for mediation before a trial commences, and as a result, to ease the backlog of cases.

T [...]

Remembering to See the Wood for the Trees – A Mediator’s Reality Check

“When you look into the abyss, the abyss looks into you.” (Nietzsche)
Relationship breakdown and the resulting fall-out is an abyss most people do not like to look into, even as they tumble into it. As family mediators, our job is to accompany and support people’s navigation into, through and, hopefully, out of the abyss again. This is not an easy task, and based on my discussions with fellow family mediators at a recent meeting, it is all too easy fall into the trap of either carrying, or pushing our clients back out of the abyss rather than helping them through it at a healthy distance.

The lines of the family mediation profession are blurry enough at the best of times. We step in an [...]

Dynamos, Cruisers and Losers

Capture99Before I left my law firm in the late 1990′s David Maister, a Boston management guru of whom many of you will know, was the darling of every large service firm, especially in the law and accountancy fields.

He has long since retired but at his height he was good, very good – despite being a former Harvard Business School professor, he had a practical wisdom that could cut through the management gobbledygook I was struggling with at my firm’s monthly management meetings at the time.

But it was the way he brutally labelled the three types of professionals, that he said inhabited service firms globally, that really caught my attention.

At any given stage in one’s professional life, Maister o [...]