Conflict Resolution|Europe|International|Mediation

Stories Mediators Tell – World Edition

Many of the presentations at the ABA Dispute Resolution Section Meeting introduced new books in the field.  A notable example was Prof. Lela Love and her co-editor Glen Parker explaining the ongoing effort to open up mediation to people around the world who have may not have experienced it by compiling of “Stories Mediators Tell” — now supplemented by “The World Edition.

The volume is purposely anecdotal.  The idea is to “popularize” mediation by telling stories.  Prof. Love explained that stories educate and inspire, educate and entertain people.  We are more eager to hear stories than to be taught.  The volume perfectly vindicates her proposition.

The hour-long panel consisted, suitably, of a group of internationally-based mediators who told their stories.

  • Thierry Garby of France told the story of a Parisian theatre that, 100 years after its construction, was remodeled and provoked neighborhood complaints because of noise. Five expert reports, 13 parties and 12 years of litigation yielded no acceptable outcome.  The remedy would cost $8,000,000 but, Garby discovered, the building was worth $250,000.  It settled in two hours.  Once he discovered this anomaly,
  • Maria Camelino of Argentina said that she uses media to resolve conflict. In her country, in 2002, there was dramatic political upheaval and economic crisis.  She initiated a conflict resolution on Argentine TV, offering advice from social workers and others on a particular case. Lawyers could bring cases to the panel and viewers could learn from them.  Subsequent mediation parties would be invited to watch clips from the show, changing their perspectives.
  • Jarwad Sarwana of Pakistan related an instance of a trademark mediation that was interrupted with the afternoon prayer towards Mecca, including the invocation by an imam to pray for peace. The mediation was about to re-commence after afternoon prayers but first one party asked to speak.  He reported having been moved by prayer, and proposed that he and his chief adversary discuss directly an incident that had occurred in Frankfurt years before.  Clarity was thereby achieved by means seemingly unrelated to, but likely possible only through, mediation.
  • Judge Srdan Simac of Croatia told a Christmas story. As chief of the mediation service in his court, he received a request from a party on December 23 to conduct a mediation the next day, so it would be done before Christmas.  He agreed and conducted a Christmas Eve mediation that proved successful.  The grateful parties arranged for the delivery of two boxes of cakes for the court.  The Judge explained that he was obligated to refuse it and asked if it could be re-delivered to the local orphanage.  All agreed.  Later in the afternoon he found one of the attorneys at the end of a corridor, crying.  It transpired that the lawyer had spent World War II in that very orphanage as a child, and was moved by the unexpected turn of fate by which he himself had been an agent of the very kindness he had so yearned for.

Prof. Love noted that there is a tendency for mediators to tell inspiring and successful experiences, not dull, boring, tedious or unsuccessful ones.  That’s okay with me.  Inspiration is in short enough supply in our business that no one is well advised to turn it down when it’s offered.


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