Archive for the ‘ADR news’ Category

News Round Up

October 16, 2009

I am back home in the U-S-of-A! and now back to our regular Friday news…

Mediation Option in New Anti-Racism Code

The ICC has included a mediation process in its new anti-racism code to help cricketers settle such conflicts amicably between themselves. This mediation process, which will be the first step towards any resolution if agreed upon within 48 hours of the incident being reported, could lead to voluntary suspensions and a public apology.

Full article [here]

Arms-length agencies can become monsters wreaking havoc on government: ombudsman
TORONTO — Ontario’s ombudsman says the lack of accountability at government agencies underscores a systemic failure that cannot be ignored.

Andre Marin says Ontario’s recent troubles show that arms-length agencies can become monsters wreaking untold havoc on their creators.

He says the government must learn from previous mistakes at agencies like eHealth Ontario and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. to avoid further costs to taxpayers and erosion of service.
Read more [
here].

New Zealand Austism Group Heads to Mediation
Autism New Zealand is set to enter mediation after disestablishing its Auckland branch committee, unhappy with communication, abuse of power and running of programmes “not endorsed” by the parent body.

The two parties met in late August to try to reach a compromise after the Christchurch head office learned of Auckland’s plans to move to new premises in Albany, and demanded to know more details.

Autism NZ is a support group for sufferers of autism, Asperger syndrome and associated disorders. It has 15 branches nationwide, and a membership of more than 4000.

Read more [here]

Community Mediation to Get 6 Month Check Up

It’s time for the city’s community mediation program to have its six-month checkup.
Police officials were expected to attend this week’s City Council meeting to give a department report on the effectiveness of the program since it was implemented in April.

Bickering neighbors who call the police, people who’ve contacted code enforcement and those who’ve completed a form on the city’s website are referred to the community mediation program to help work out their disagreements, according to Sgt. Don Aguilar of the T.O. police.
“The program has been very successful so far,” Aguilar said.

In the past, addressing property line or landscape disputesloud music and other problems was time-consuming for police officers, who repeatedly had to return to the same address to resolve the issue, Aguilar said.

Read more [here]

‘Bad Faith’ Mediation in Nevada Foreclosure Mediations?

The Nevada Supreme Court passed tougher rules to force lenders to work with homeowners in foreclosure, but some lenders are worried that they may be unfairly sanctioned.Mediators working with homeowners have the power to find that a lender acted “in bad faith” during a mediation and to halt a foreclosure. The state high court passed its new rules on Sept. 28, in response to a request by state Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley.

Full article [here]

New Jersey Foreclosure Mediation Update

More than 2,600 New Jersey homeowners have received counseling assistance through the State’s Foreclosure Mediation Program, Governor Jon S. Corzine said today. Of the 2,500 mediation cases that have been scheduled, 1,450 cases have been completed, with more than 50 percent of families able to remain in their homes.

More [here]

This is why I like Ombuds: “My bias is to deal with systemic change. That is much more cost-effective and results in individuals not repeatedly complaining about the same thing,” she said.”

Read it all [here].

ADR News

July 31, 2009

‘Justice Out Of Reach For Most’
FORMER High Court judge Michael Kirby says Australia should follow the English model of dispute resolution and encourage parties to mediate before resorting to court action, to avoid time-consuming, costly and public trials.Mr Kirby, who addressed the Institute of Arbitrators and Mediators Australia yesterday for the first time since becoming national president, said it was too costly for many people to access the nation’s “Rolls-Royce” court system, and mediation offered an alternative.”It can be quicker, cheaper, more available, more confidential and be in the hands of the parties,” Mr Kirby said in Adelaide.
Read all the article [here]

NV Foreclosure Mediation Program Gets First Request
What makes this news worthy I think it is:
1) yet another state has implemented a foreclosure mediation program
2) They are including an online interactive element to the process, ” Questions may also be directed over the Internet to foreclose@nvcourts.nv.gov.”
3) The foreclosure mediation program is self funded through fees and will not require the expenditure of any taxpayer dollars. Lenders pay an increased fee for filing a foreclosure notice, which is used to fund administrative costs of the program. Homeowners and lenders will share the $400 costs for the mediators, with each party paying $200 prior to the mediation.
Read the full article [here]

NZ Wants Bigger Copyright Watchdog
The New Zealand Government has released a discussion document for public consultation that calls for more powers for the Copyright Tribunal.
The controversial Section 92A of the Amended Copyright Act was introduced by the former Labour Government last year and then suspended by the new National Government after public outcry and protests in March. The
dicussion paper leaves termination of ISP customer accounts still on the table, with the difference being that the decision will lay with the existing Copyright Tribunal rather than rights holders requesting service providers to switch off access for internet users.
A three-phase process is proposed in the document: Phase 1 allows for rights holders to file complaints with ISPs, which in turn notify customers that they’re accused of infringing copyright. If the infringement continues, rights holders can issue cease and desist orders via the ISP to its customers.

Full article [here]

JAMS Neutrals Named 2009 Power Mediators by The Hollywood Reporter
July 28, 2009 – Los Angeles, CA – JAMS, The Resolution Experts, the nation’s largest private provider of mediation and arbitration services, announced that three JAMS neutrals, Richard Chernick, Esq., Judge Diane Wayne, and Judge Daniel Weinstein have been recognized as “Power Mediators” by The Hollywood Reporter as part of their annual “Power Lawyers” Special Report. Only seven mediators were recognized for their outstanding expertise in resolving entertainment disputes.

Read the full press release [here]

Vote For Safe Horizon
Remember to vote for Safe Horizon [here]. If you are asking why, read the posting [here].

TAC, WorkSafe open to rip-offs Ombudsman finds
DODGY doctors may have been ripping off TAC and WorkSafe with excessive bills and charging for procedures that never took place.A damning report from the Ombudsman highlighted “significant flaws” in the two government controlled organisations’s could have cost Victorian taxpayers “millions of dollars”. Ombudsman George Brouwer said in his report the billing procedures at TAC and WorkSafe are “vulnerable to fraud and being taken advantage of” by dodgy billing practices. The report follows a prior ombudsman’s inquiry focusing on the former head of The Alfred Hospital trauma unit Thomas Kossmann, who was found to have billed the TAC for surgery on road accident victims he did not perform.
Read the full article [here].


Do you have ADR news you would like to submit? Email it to me @ mediator.jeff@gmail.com

Communication Needed Now More Than Ever

July 20, 2009

Two people who I have had the pleasure to have worked with previously and whom I consider friends landed in Jakarta this past Friday, only a day after a terrible terrorist attacked at a hotel that killed 9 people and at least 41 injured.
Zach and Deborah, both of Consensus, are there (from their twitter site), “Preparing to go to Indonesia for Search for Common Ground: effort to stave off radicalization of prison inmates.”
I received this message from their colleague– Michael Rosenthal, CEO, of Consensus:
July 17, 2009 (Jakarta, Indonesia)…Consensus, a conflict resolution firm that is a member-constituent of the U.S. Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council, landed in Jakarta this morning in an effort to reduce the threat of further violence and terrorism through radicalization of disenfranchised Indonesians. They arrived in the wake of two terrorist bombings in Indonesia’s capital city.
“Terrorist acts like these remind us of the need for peace building efforts,” said Consensus CEO Michael Rosenthal. “They are designed to scare [the public] away, to abandon our objectives, and to change our course. Instead, they strengthen our resolve.” The firm will begin its efforts, which are being funded by the British Government, this weekend.
I wish Zach and Deborah luck and safety during their trip. You can follow their endeavors at their twitter site: http://twitter.com/consensus.
Photo (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

ADR News

July 17, 2009

Mediator Offers Neutral Opinion During Divorce
A news release crossed my desk last week saying that many couples separate at the end of the school year.
Well, that got my attention so I read on and soon found myself immersed in an e-book on mediation…

If you are going through a separation or divorce and are overwhelmed by the considerations, this book is a good place to start. In plain language Zutter covers all the tasks facing you and makes sense of it all. Even if you don’t choose mediation, the book is still a great resource for laying out the process.
Read more [here]

UN-AU mediator suggests resumption of Darfur Peace
KHARTOUM, July 15 (Xinhua) — The joint mediator of the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU), Djibril Bassole, said on Wednesday that he had put forward to the parties of the conflict in the western Sudanese region of Darfur to resume the peace talks in August in Doha, capital of Qatar.
“I have provided a proposal to hold the next round of negotiations in August…”

Read more [here]

‘Hate Ads’ Go To Mediation (Tasmania/Australia)
Tasmania’s anti-discrimination tribunal has called for mediation in the case between Timber Communities Australia (TCA) and human rights campaigners Martine Delaney and Peter Power.
…Delaney and Power jointly allege that the TV ads, attacking Green Party policies, demonised same-sex couples and intersex people by, amongst other things, associating them with the international symbol of harm, poison and death, the skull and cross bones.
Read more [here]

Funds To Go Towards Mediation
Local judges will have a new tool available to them in the battle against truancy, as Howard County commissioners voted unanimously Monday morning to increase court filing fees to pay for a mediation program targeting non-attendance.
The program, run by Lubbock-based Dispute Resolution Center and funded with grant money, recently popped up on the county’s radar during a meeting between local law enforcement officials, according to County Judge Mark Barr.

Read more [here]

Political Rivals in Honduras Accept Mediation
WASHINGTON (AP) — Both sides in Honduras’ leadership crisis on Tuesday signaled willingness to forge a diplomatic solution to the deadlock over the fate of President Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted last month in a coup.
Zelaya and interim Honduran leader Roberto Micheletti agreed to accept Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, a Nobel Peace laureate, as an international mediator.

Read more [here]

Debt Mediators Australia Say, “Bank Fees Push People Into Bankruptcy”
A Stafford debt mediation business has claimed bank dishonour fees are pushing people into bankruptcy.
Figures released from a Debt Mediators Australia online survey have revealed two-thirds of people in financial stress struggle to make repayments because of financial institutions’ dishonour fees.

Read more [here]

ADR News

July 10, 2009

NYPD Cricket Featured on CNN
From Wednesday’s post [here], see the video at the bottom (just press play)

When Not To Negotiate
Mediation or negotiation in family disputes, while attractive in principle, can often be ineffectual, and at worst, counterproductive. In the 1989 film, The War of the Roses, Barbara and Oliver Rose were in such extreme conflict over their dream house, they eventually killed each other. Only judicial intervention could have stopped the carnage.
The importance of dealing with divorce in the best possible way when one-third of Australian marriages fail is clearly crucial to the well-being of the community. Over the past 25 years, family disputes in Australia have been increasingly resolved through mediation and negotiation, rather than litigation. Since the mid-1990s, “Alternative Dispute Resolution” (ADR) has become the most common way to resolve family feuds.

Read more [here]
Candidate Touts Mediation Experience
Democrat Michael Allen of Santa Rosa says he’s best qualified to succeed Noreen Evans in the State Assembly because he has been a member of State Sen. Patricia Wiggins’ staff since 2007.
…Allen said his background as a “community mediator specializing in conflict resolution and interest-based negotiations” also makes him a good choice to bring solutions to Sacramento.
Read more [here]

How To Be Your Own Mediator
After you vent your side of the story, retell the story from the other person’s point of view.
Here is how to do this. Choose a specific conflict with one other person. Particularly useful is selecting a person who you blame for the current poor working relationship. Now, find someone else who you can confide in to be a listener and do the following exercise.

Read more [here]

Bid To Halt Soccer World Cup Strike
Mediation efforts are under way in South Africa in a bid to end a national strike which has brought construction at 2010 World Cup sites to a halt.
Some 70,000 workers downed tools on Wednesday demanding a 13% pay rise but employers are only offering 10%.
Construction companies have described other union demands as “unacceptable”.

Read more [here]

Georgia Gov Appoints Mental Health Ombuds
Governor Perdue Wednesday announced a new position to help Georgia fix its broken mental health system.The Mental Health Ombudsman will investigate complaints of abuse and other concerns.Jewel Norman’s resume includes running a psychiatric hospital for children and teenagers. She also advocated for mental health legislation for the State Department of Human Resources. As Ombudsman, Norman will provide checks and balances for Georgia’s new mental health agency.
Read more [here]

Retired No More!

Congratulations to Hon. Harry Sheppard (Ret.), a retired Alameda County Superior Court Judge, for recently joining JAMS. Retired life just was not meant to be!

“While on the bench, Judge Sheppard was a ‘go-to’ judge for resolving complicated cases. He is known for his fair and even temperament, thorough knowledge of the law, and extraordinary work ethic and preparation,” said Chris Poole, JAMS President and CEO. “We are pleased that he is joining our Northern California panel.”

“I have always enjoyed problem solving as a judge, and I look forward to working full-time as a JAMS arbitrator and mediator,” said Judge Sheppard.

ADR News

July 3, 2009

Next Week @ Enjoy Mediation
Coming next week I am going to try and switch to a Monday, Wednesday, Friday posting format. This way you, the readers, will be able to know when new posts will be published.
This Monday’s post will recap of the monthly ACRG-NY (Association of Conflict Resolution- Greater New York Chapter) meeting that was held this past Thursday. This month’s gathering had over 70 people in attendance (good job people!) but with the listserv having 1,500+ people and many out of the NYC area, I thought some might enjoy a recap.
Wednesday will have a post and NY Times video on ‘Thinking Outside The Box: The NYPD & Cricket’ (I hope the intrigue and anticipation does not ruin your weekend!).

Friday will be the usual ADR news round up.

onto the news…


Big News In NZ-
Private Mediators To Be Used In Auckland Court Under Pilot
Wellington, July 3 NZPA – Private mediators will work with parties in civil disputes under a pilot scheme to be run at the High Court in Auckland…A panel of up to 15 mediators who were experienced legal practitioners qualified and experienced in mediation would be set up.
Full article [here]
Read the press release [here]
Questions I have- what are the qualifications? How will the roster be administered? Will they be paid, if so how much?

IMI Registration Tops 1,000 Worldwide
Good news from Irena Vanenkova, IMI Operations Director, via email the other day:IMI Registrations Top 1,000 WorldwideIMI Moves on to Certification by AssessmentIMI completed its Experience Qualification Path on June 30 2009. Over 1,000 experienced mediators from 35 countries took the opportunity to register on the IMI portal during the EQP period.
Already, over 100 mediators have completed their Profiles and are searchable on IMI’s open-access search engine. That number is expected to grow to almost 1,000 within 3 months. Registered mediators have until September 30 2009 to complete their Profiles. With the help of a 50-strong Independent Standards Commission, IMI is now moving on to implement Criteria that entities need to meet in order to be authorized to qualify experienced mediators for IMI Certification in the future.IMI’s Chairman, Michael McIlwrath of General Electric said:

“This is a truly great milestone from provably experienced mediators! Access to such an impressive number around the world will satisfy the needs of users for credible and convincing data about competent mediators. More than that, it is significant step in a drive by stakeholders to expand the mediation pie by injecting more confidence and understanding into mediation practice, and give it standing as a truly global profession. Future steps will be to promote the portal’s search engine to users worldwide to identify competent and suitable mediators for disputes, and to leverage the IMI experience to expand and extend the uptake of mediation in different countries and markets.”

IMI is now inviting top trainers, providers, professional and educational institutions to consider the Criteria established by the Independent Standards Commission and apply for authorization to deliver assessment programs qualifying experienced mediators for IMI Certification on a wider scale.Further details are available on the IMI web portal at http://www.imimediation.org/
(Disclaimer: I am signed up with IMI and am currently in the process of being certified)

ODR & The White House
Ethan Katsh posted the following at the Online Dispute Resolution Group @ Linkedin:
As some of you may know, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has, for the past month, been sponsoring a large scale online discussion. The purpose of the dialog is to generate new initiatives about how citizens might interact with government. In the first phase of the dialog, there were various proposals suggested for applications of ODR and ADR. During the last phase, which is occurring this week, ODR and alternative dispute resolution are featured prominently on the OSTP blog at http://blog.ostp.gov/2009/06/29/collaborative-problem-solving-and-alternative-dispute-resolution/ This blog posting will be open for public comment through next Monday, July 6th. If you have something, hopefully positive, to say about expanded ODR use by federal agencies, posting something to that effect would be extremely valuable and I would urge you to do so. The people in charge of the White House Open Government initiative actually are familiar with ODR and any ideas you might have about the value and benefits of ODR in the government context would, I think, have an impact.
Please feel free to forward this to anyone else who you think might be interested.


Mediator Suggested in California State Budget Impasse
State Treasurer Bill Lockyer sure has some radical ideas about how to break California’s government gridlock.
Hire a professional mediator to facilitate talks between lawmakers and the governor. Former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, maybe?
And craft two budgets – one for the liberal coast and one for more conservative inland regions.
“We’ll have the budget for the coast that has tax increases and services,” Lockyer said in a wide-ranging interview with The Times’ Sacramento bureau. “And in a bunch of other areas in Central and Southern California that don’t have tax increases … their public schools are closed a month of the year – and see what happens.”

Full article [here]

Joe Biden Does Not Equal Mediator with Iraq
President Obama is giving Vice President Biden a larger portfolio to handle, asking him to oversee reconciliation inside Iraq, but Biden will not be a mediator between factions.
“I think he will be involved in working with Shia, Sunni and Kurd to achieve political reconciliation. I would hesitate to use the term ‘mediator,’ ” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said at Tuesday’s briefing. “Somebody who I think can oversee that we are making progress, that our attention and our resources are matched by what we see needs to happen. I think that he’s well suited to do that.”

Full article [here]

Small Business Mediation in Australia
During his many speaking engagements to promote his small business mediation service, Small Business Commissioner Mark Brennan likes to quote a letter written by a commercial real estate agent to an aggrieved tenant.
…According to him, disputes over leases have made up 90 per cent of the 800 cases brought to the Victorian Small Business Commission’s dispute resolution service.
The idea behind the mediation is to provide a low-cost, less confrontational forum that can deal with everything from a $76 unpaid invoice, to trouble over a $650,000 property settlement.

Read more [here]

Mediation With Joe Salama
Don’t know Joe? I don’t either, let’s get to know him together with a Q&A via the Examiner [here]

Air Canada Names Mediator
The federal government has assigned two mediators to oversee the talks between Air Canada and its lone dissenting union, the Air Canada Component of CUPE, which has so far refused to sign off on an extension of its current contract for fear it would lead to job losses.
All five of Air Canada’s unions have agreed to a tentative agreement for a 21-month moratorium on the airline’s pension-funding obligations this week, after its solvency deficit ballooned to $2.9-billion last year. But CUPE, which represents 6,700 Air Canada flight attendants, is the only one yet to agree to an extension of its current labour contract, which is set to expire at the end of June. CUPE says the concessions the airline is seeking would likely result in job losses.

Read more [here]

Friday News Round Up

June 26, 2009

A Network Theory of Conflict Resolution

Definitely worth a read:
Creating an “energy landscape” from networks of friends and enemies could lead to a better way of resolving disputes.

“Suppose you have two friends who detest each other. The resulting awkwardness often resolves itself in one of two ways: either you drop one of your friends, or they find a way to reconcile,” say Steve Strogatz and buddies from Cornell University. They go on to add that the overall social stress in these situations corresponds to a kind of energy that relaxes over time as relationships switch from hostility to friendship (or vice versa).
Read more [here], I know you want to, especially after glancing at that exciting graphic.

Bring Mediation In House Is Cost Effective
This story has been making the rounds on a few discussion groups:
…Resolving disputes through alternative dispute resolution, as opposed to litigation, is one way that a corporation can save money. ADR can also save the corporation time because it is often less disruptive to business operations than litigation. And, when it is used to resolve disputes with customers, it can have a positive impact on customer relations. Mediation, in particular, can be an effective way to resolve customer disputes in a way that is better for everyone involved.

…The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center began utilizing mediation about five years ago as a way to resolve certain legal disputes and grievances that patients or families (the center’s “customers”) have with the system.
Full article [here]

Maine Adds Foreclosure Mediation
...The basic result of this law is that every person being foreclosed upon now has the right to mediation, if they so choose (“opt-in”) by filling out and returning a simple form. The model program on which this law is based originated in Connecticut.
Read more [here]

Preaching To The Choir
Yes, as the headline says and I know you heard and read it plenty of times, but read it again- the benefits of court connected mediation. This one is from Reno: Click here for the article.
In all cases, the mediators use a “facilitative model,” the executive director said. After assembling in a conference room, the mediators work with the parties to identify the problems and possible solutions. Unlike in court, non-monetary solutions, such as repairing or returning property, are possible. If a decision is reached, it comes from the parties.
…The center’s success rate–more than 90 percent, according to its Web site–is higher than the national average, he said.

News

June 19, 2009

NYC & Foreclosure Mediation on the Horizon?
NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently endorsed a proposal to create mandatory mediation in foreclosures in New York City. The program he said would be based on the successful model currently in use in Philadelphia. That is the good news.
The bad news is it will require passage at the state level which currently has the NYS Senate embroiled in more-infighting-than-usual with the Senate not having an official session in days.
Read the full story [here]
here’s another story going further into the Philadelphia story and how other cities are trying to replicate them “US mayors urge states to require mortgage mediation” [here]

Oslo Mediator’s Conference Opens
The Oslo Forum 09 opens on Tuesday. The Forum seeks to provide diverse, frank and discreet discussions between top mediators and other key actors from around the world on major issues affecting peace and conflict today.
Full story [here]

Marquette law school to run foreclosure mediation program
The Marquette University Law School will provide mediation between lenders and residential borrowers facing foreclosure under a program funded with proceeds from a successful lawsuit against mortgage lender Countrywide Financial Corp.
Full story [here]

Mediation offers business opportunity for attorneys
The first class included 19 members, but its ranks have grown to over 500.
Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Joseph Boyd and Florida State College of Law Dean Talbot D’Alemberte helped establish the Florida Dispute Resolution Center (DRC) in 1986 and it provided a statewide center for education, training and research in alternative dispute resolution. One of the functions of the DRC is the certification of mediators and mediation training programs. The first applicants certified to practice in the Fourth Judicial Circuit earned certification in 1991 and that group has grown from about 20 to over 500 people practicing in four different fields: county, circuit, family and dependency.

Full story [here]

‘On The Move’
Respected Construction Attorneys James F. Nagle and Douglas S. OlesJoin JAMS Global Engineering and Construction Group
June 15, 2009 – SEATTLE – Respected construction attorneys James F. Nagle and Douglas S. Oles announced today that they have joined the Global Engineering and Construction Group of JAMS, The Resolution Experts, the nation’s largest private provider of mediation and arbitration services. They will be based in JAMS Seattle Resolution Center. Both Mr. Nagle and Mr. Oles have extensive experience resolving large-scale construction disputes.
Full press release [here]

United States Institute of Peace New Website Design
THE USIP has recently redesigned its website, have a look [here]. In case you forgot or for some odd reason you never read it when it was originally posted, they offer free online training certificate programs. Read more about it [here] and all about their multi-media resource section for peacemakers [here].

Have an interesting mediation or ADR related story? Send it to me at mediator.jeff@gmail.com

ADR News

June 5, 2009


IMI Mediator Blog Roll

Yes, Diane does have the best blog list on the planet at ADR Blogs but that does not mean no other site can have a list too, right? IMI (International Mediation Institute) has a nice, global list [here].
Also, you have less than one month to finish your profile to become IMI certified under the current format. After that, the process will be much longer so don’t wait! Visit their site [here].

Euro-JAMS
I forgot to mention this last Friday and thanks to Tom at Jaffe Associates for reminding me.
NEW YORK/ROME – JAMS, the premier mediation and arbitration provider in the United States and ADR Center in Italy announced an agreement to form what will be known as JAMS International ADR Center to provide mediation and arbitration of cross-border disputes and training services worldwide. The first JAMS International ADR Center will have its offices in Rome and New York with additional hearing locations in Geneva, London and Brussels. JAMS plans to establish a network of international centers to provide the same high quality services for which JAMS has become known.
Read more [here].
Obama, The Mediator-in-Chief
Barack Obama hopes to turn another page. Instead of domestic issues like race relations, the Mediator-in-Chief steps deep into the throes of Middle East diplomacy today.
Obama seems most himself when tackling a big issue. He identifies the big problems, affirms angst and points out the failings on all sides (that all sides can tolerate being pointed out). He sets a flag on common ground. He talks of bold outcomes but favors incremental action. We know the script and cadence…
Read more [here]
Pilot Project to Test Mediation in Family Court
FREDERICTON – The Liberal government is launching a pilot project that will give families the option of using mediation services to settle disputes outside of the family court system.
The announcement came on the heels of a report released Tuesday that found New Brunswick’s family court system was “needlessly adversarial, frustratingly slow and much too expensive.”
Read more [here]
Mediators Slam Plan to Close Center
Mediators across the country are condemning the Justice Ministry for its plan to close the National Center for Mediation and Conflict Resolution at the end of June, in accordance with a decision reached by the previous government. The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee has called for the ministry-based center, which oversees some 25 public mediation centers throughout the country and has been in operation for 11 years, to remain open. The Justice Ministry has agreed to reconsider the matter.
Many of the conflicts the local centers resolve have to do with divorce
Read more [here]
Parade Seeks Mediation in Confederate Flag Flap
The Veterans’ Day parade, a 47-year-old tradition in Homestead, is in limbo.
On Thursday morning, officials from the Homestead/Florida City Chamber of Commerce’s military affairs committee unanimously voted to defer making any decisions on continuing or disbanding the popular event.
Instead, the executive board of the committee, known as the MAC, has accepted an offer of mediation by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service, said Jeffrey Wander, who chairs the committee.
The impartial federal group assists communities in resolving conflicts related to race, color and national origin.
”I think this is the best course of action,” Wander said. “To cancel a parade offhand would dishonor the veterans.”
The parade has grown controversial after the Sons of Confederate Veterans marched with the Confederate battle flag on Nov. 11. The Miami-Dade chapter of the NAACP, along with members of the former Homestead/Florida City Human Relations Board, have called for the flag to be banned.
Read more [here]

Australian of the Year

June 1, 2009

I was lucky enough to be present last week at the Australian Consulate to hear 2009 Australian of the Year, Mick Dodson, speak. Very special thanks to the Consulate for the invitation, especially Fiona Gosschalk. (pictured left is me far left, Mick Dodson, near left. Photo by Michelle Lee, Australian Consulate).

Mr. Dodson is described as follows:
Fifty eight year old Dodson is a Yawuru man from the Broome area of Western Australia who now lives and works in Canberra. He is widely recognized as a proud, courageous and humble Aboriginal leader who has spent his adult life trying to explain to people why and how they can help his people. He has pursued justice and reconciliation through a process of education, awareness and inclusive dialogue with all Australians.

While his official roles tell only a small part of the story of what he does, Dodson has served in a variety of challenging and highly sensitive roles at community level, with governments, the United Nations and in academia. He has also actively mentored, nurtured and promoted young Aboriginal leaders and encouraged respect between people of all cultures.

His brief speech was very moving. As a conflict resolver, he touched on many topics that are a part of my mediation and negotiation practice, both in the NYPD and outside of it.

He mentioned the United Nations and stressed not only how its role is important but it is also necessary. One of his powerful quotes was, “The United Nations is the official platform for listening.”

Potentially an easy comment to forget for some so I ask you to think about it. From the mediator’s perspective, how important is it for the parties to be given that time to talk (I tend to call it ‘uninterrupted time’)?

In addition to being given that opportunity to speak, how powerful, and many times grateful, are the parties knowing they are not just being heard but also they are being acknowledged when we use simple tools like summarizing, reflecting and validating feelings?

Now as you picture that in a previous mediation or negotiation, expand it. Not by a handful of people but by millions of people. Mr. Dodson stated there are over 400 million indigenous people on this planet. Having the opportunity, at the very least, to speak at the forum when the ‘official listeners’ are present to record and acknowledge them is not something that should be overlooked.

Again, think about if you never allowed parties to have that opportunity to speak and tell their story in mediation. What would the chances of success be? Would they feel like they are part of the process? And now again, think of it as 400 million people. What comes to your mind? For me, it is something that is powerful yet beautiful that can be easily overlooked yet so necessary.

Mr. Dodson then went on to talk about “The Apology”. The apology I am referring to is when Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, back in 2008, spoke of the “mistreatment” that inflicted “profound grief, suffering and loss” on the country’s Aboriginal people.

From the CNN article, “For 60 years, until 1970, the Australian government took mixed-race Aboriginal children from their families and put them in dormitories or industrial schools, claiming it was protecting them.”
Read the full CNN article [HERE]
Read the full speech [HERE] –


The issue of apologizing, and its potential power, is also a major topic in mediations. When questioned on the power and effect of the apology and if it was symbolic, Mr. Dobson included the comment, “Even Symbolic gestures have power.” He also added that the apology was a move in a positive direction.

He equally stressed the importance of not just powerful, symbolic words but also meaningful and measurable results. One of those results are the gap between Aboriginal life expectancy compared to all other Australians went from being a 17 year difference to now 11 years.

The last comment I would like to add is that after hearing the Australian of the Year speak, it really gave me a greater appreciation of the power that communication can have on a global scale. Mr. Dodson shows that words are powerful and when combined with action is where progress is achieved.