There are various ways to settle any conflict, such as litigation, negotiation, arbitration, and for that matter even mediation. Mediation is one of the forms of alternative disputes resolution mechanism. It is an exclusive process wherein the parties typically resolve the dispute with the assistance of a third party, called the mediator. Mediation is a flexible process to bring out a negotiated agreement among the parties. The parties also hold ultimate control of the decision and are free to define their own terms of the resolution.
Mediation, just like arbitration and conciliation maintains the confidentiality of the proceedings. However, mediation differs from arbitration as the mediator does not have the authority to make decisions about the dispute. ADR practices like mediation aim to achieve an ‘organizational unity with respect to the parties involved.
We must acknowledge the structural motive of mediation which involves integrating different points of view to draw a definite conclusion. A number of domains use mediation as a conflict resolution method- legal, commercial, family matters, and workplace.
Role of a mediator and his qualities
The mediator is an identity that assists the conflicting parties to come out with a resolution. Though the mediator doesn’t possess the authority to make a decision, plays an important role. The mediator guides and advises parties, making an unbiased nudge effort to draw a conclusion for the parties.
The position of a mediator is crucial. He must be trustworthy, knowledgeable, unbiased, maintain confidentiality. He should also be a patient listener and act within the corners of the law.
Stages of a mediation process
To begin, the parties give an introduction to the problem and themselves. The mediator provides an opening statement and all gather to discuss.
Secondly, the mediator then determines the problem of the discussion.
Further, the mediator and the conflicting parties look for solutions and alternatives to the problem.
Finally, the two parties come to a consensus and the mediator assists them. The parties then sign an agreement.
Mediation Case Studies
In mediation cases, the parties typically resolve the dispute with the assistance of a third party, called the mediator. Here are the top 4 Case Studies on Mediation
1. Washington Navy Yard Stormwater Permit Mediation
The Dispute– The Environmental Protection Agency issued a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System stormwater permit for the Washington D.C. USA Navy Yard. As one of two parties, the U.S. Navy did not agree with the process and appealed the permit. Subsequently, a four-year-long dispute arose.
The Process– The U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution managed to have the parties agree on a formal mediation process to settle the dispute. The mediation process only took five months and the parties reached a settlement.
The Result– The settlement through mediation ended the four-year-long dispute. As a result, an environmentally protective permit was agreed upon that suited the interests of both sides.
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2. Agacher Strip Mediation between Burkina Faso and Mali
The Dispute– Burkina Faso and Mali both sought to control the 100-mile long Agacher Strip, along with significant amounts of natural gas and mineral resources it contained. Where the border between the two countries should be drawn was the source of immense tension and two eruptions of armed conflict, first in 1974 and again in 1985. The second conflict, dubbed the Agacher “Christmas” War, lasted five days and cost dozens of lives.
The Process– Both sides refused to fully withdraw, and preparations were made to begin the conflict anew if a resolution could not be made. The matter was brought before the International Court of Justice, the primary judicial body of the United Nations, in 1983. With tensions still high in the months after the Agacher “Christmas” War, both countries submitted the matter again to the ICJ, hoping a decision could be made that would help avoid a renewal of violence in the region.
The Result– After extensive investigation, the ICJ decided to only make minor corrections to the border and gave ANAD the authority to control the withdrawal of troops. Key to the mediation was the nearly equal division of the Agacher Strip, with Burkina Faso receiving the east portion and Mali the west.
3. Lake Michigan – USA Mediation
The Dispute– Since the beginning of the 20th century the U.S., the Federal Government has been in conflict over the use of Lake Michigan’s water. Removing too much water critically affects the lakes in other states. This dispute led to more than four U.S. Supreme Court cases between 1920 and 1995.
The Process– In 1995, when another US Supreme Court litigation on that issue arose, the eight Great Lake states (Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio, New York, and Pennsylvania) and the U.S. government entered into mediation. They decided to split the cost thereof. In less than one year, the parties produced a framework to permanently settle the dispute.
The Result– All eight states signed the agreement, in the form of a memorandum of understanding, which was announced on October 9, 1996. Illinois agreed to several limitations. One limitation was compliance with earlier court decrees limiting its use of water. If Illinois makes clear progress in meeting its obligations and an independent panel accepts the lakefront measuring system, the parties are to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to incorporate their agreement in a final decree.
4. Apple Timber Sale Mediation
The Dispute– The residents of Williams, Oregon USA filed a lawsuit against the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over apple timber sales in their community.
The Process– At the request of both parties, the US Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution contracted mediators in an attempt to settle the issue outside the courtroom. The mediators, in conjunction with both parties’ counsel, determined a negotiation was possible, then made recommendations.
The Result– After the short process of mediation, the two parties came to an agreement concerning the sale of Apple timber in Oregon. The arrangement allowed 75% of the original sale to be executed, while 25% was left untouched. Additionally, it afforded community members the opportunity to have oversight over their town’s lumbering activities. Most importantly, the mediation permitted community members to assume a key role in lumber sites and is a compelling example of successful mediation.
This mechanism of dispute resolution might have got recognition in modern days. But it has ever since been a part of the system informally. Mediation has correctly proved itself to be an important part of the justice and resolution system. The reason mediation is appealing is because of its sensitive, efficient, and private nature.
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