Archive for the ‘international news’ Category

Ombuds News Round Up

December 30, 2009

PBS Ombudsman Agrees NewsHour Slighted ‘Fascinating’ Climategate E-Mails

PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler agreed with conservative letter-writers that the NewsHour covered Climategate “lightly and well after the fact,” even though he expressed the standard liberal belief that the “overwhelming” evidence is on the man-made dramatic warming side, and there’s a “danger of establishing false equivalence” — in other words, the liberals have more truth on their side.

But in a letter solicited from Getler, NewsHour senior producer Murrey Jacobson refused to admit any imbalance…

Read more [here]

Judge names Houston attorney to monitor company
DALLAS — A Houston lawyer will serve as a court-appointed ombudsman to monitor a venerable Texas company that has been cited for discriminating against black employees….

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Tim Garrigan of Nacogdoches, said the appointment of an ombudsman is significant.
“These remedial orders have been a long time in coming,” Garrigan said, “but we’re hopeful they will make Lufkin a better place to work.”

Has anyone ever heard of a judge appointing an ombuds to a company before? Read the article [here]

ESPN Ombudsman Comments On Tiger Woods Coverage
News judgments are incredibly difficult when dealing with a situation such as the Woods melodrama. Do too little, and ESPN is accused of covering up. Do too much, and it’s perceived to be character assassination. ESPN’s handling of Woods on “SportsCenter” and other news and opinion programs can be debated, but it appeared the network tried to walk the line between satisfying the audience’s inquisitiveness about the self-destruction of arguably the world’s most famous athlete and trying to avoid the trap of sensationalism. There were exceptions, but in general the network covered problematic subject matter seriously, avoided rampant speculation and provided context.

…Some of ESPN’s coverage decisions — such as playing the 911 call about Woods’ mother-in-law fainting, using a quote on The Bottom Line from one of Woods’ neighbors that left the impression the golfer was drunk, and relying on the National Enquirer and TMZ as sources — should raise eyebrows.

Read the full article [here] (note, I added the bold).

Colbert to serve as Olympic oval ‘ombudsman’
Stephen Colbert announced Thursday he’ll travel to Richmond to accept the city’s offer to become the official Richmond Olympic Oval ombudsman during the 2010 Winter Games.
“I have no idea what an ombudsman is, but as long as it requires no effort from me, I proudly accept,” Colbert told his TV viewers.

Colbert, host of the Colbert Report…

Read more [here]

Ombudsman critical of handling of drug evidence
The Victorian Ombudsman has tabled a highly critical report about the handling of drug exhibits at the Victoria Police Forensic Services Centre.

…The report, tabled in State Parliament today has found that mismanagement and a lack of accountability create an environment in which corruption may go unnoticed.
The report says for the last 15 years, there has been no full independent audit of drug holdings at the Victoria Police Forensic Services Centre.

Read more [here]
UN Security Council Creates Ombudsman Office
I wrote earlier this week on this topic, read the post [here].

UN To Create Security Council Ombudsman & New Mediation Division Launched

December 28, 2009

UN To Create Ombudsman For Security Council & New Mediation Division

Recently the United Nation’s Security Council announced it will created an Ombudsman Office. This position is being created specifically in response to concerns over its own No Fly List.

According to the CBC, “The Security Council’s unanimous decision to appoint an ombudsman is aimed at ensuring that UN sanctions target the right people, companies and organizations for links to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.”

Creation of the Ombudsman Office was passed unanimously by the Council and the position will initially be created for 18 months to assist the sanctions committee to review the procedures regarding delisting individuals on the list.

Further information from the article explains how the Ombuds will be chosen, “The ombudsman will be appointed by the UN Secretary General, and will be someone who should be “an eminent individual of high moral character, impartiality and integrity with high qualifications and experience in relevant fields, such as legal, human rights, counter-terrorism and sanctions”, a UN release stated.”

The United Nations currently has an Ombudsman Office which serves the employees of the UN. You can read more about that office, and John Barkat, the current ombudsman, [here].

Note, their site is newly re-designed and you will notice the UN has created a new Mediation Division with the Ombudsman Office. The office was created in August 2009 as per the passing of General Assembly resolution A/RES/62/228. You can read more about the new Mediation Division and its services [here].

Read the full CBC article [here].

Recent Accomplishments

December 1, 2009

Recent Notable Accomplishments –
Jeff Thompson

Mediation

Mediated over 70 cases in 2009. Cases include community mediation centers, Manhattan civil court and New York County Lawyers Association.

Trainings

2 day training for security personal in advanced conflict resolution skills.

Designed conflict and communication skills workshop for over 200 NYPD Community Affairs Bureau. officers.

Designed an Interfaith Dialogue and Communication Skills workshop.

Various requests to speak in other states and with other police departments.

Public Talks

CUNY John Jay College- Overview of the Community Affairs Bureau and how communication skills can be utilized in de-escalating situations and promoting community and NYPD relationships.

Cardozo Law School- same as above.

St John’s University- Embracing Diversity in NYC and the NYPD (communication techniques).

Bond University, Australia- Spoke to Graduate students on how effective mediation and negotiation skills can be applied to numerous situations.

Southern Cross University/Centre For Peace & Social Justice, Australia- Public talk on mediating in NYC and as well as policing, cultural issues and communication. [read more]

Robina Town Centre, Australia- Public talk with the Queensland Police Department on how both the NYPD and QPD both use communication and community engagement to establish relationships with the communities we serve. [read more]

http://www.ODR.info’s 2009 Cyber Week Event- Designed and hosted Web 2.0: Going From Oh? To Know! The event featured three top bloggers and the editor of mediate.com sharing their experiences and provided tips on how to use different web technology to help your practice. The event has been archived. [read more]

Interviews

NBC Nightly News- Interviewed by reporter Tiki barber in regards to the NYPD Cricket Program. View the video [here]

Interviewed by California author and mediator Steve Mehta. [read and watch here]

ABC Radio Australia- Interviewed live on radio in regards to the Robina and Southern Cross events.

Additional interviews with (but not limited to) Al Jazera, BBC, BBN3 and the NY Sun.

Published Articles

Article on mediation and communication published in California State Bar Association’s Magazine: Trial Styles.

Published over 60 times at Mediate.com, the leading worldwide website in mediation.

Articles listed at national organization Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) website.

Article on mediation and communication published in Spring 3100, official NYPD magazine distributed to over 30,000 members.

Featured in an American Bar Association (ABA) law student paper in regards to using communication to peacefully resolve incidents during a protest. [read here]

New York Law Journal- Featured in an article forthcoming regarding credit card debt mediation cases.

Featured Blog at mediate.com and International Mediation Institute (IMImediation.org)

Featured In Articles

Newsweek article- Featured in an article regarding the volunteer mediation work I have done with Safe Horizon in New York City Civil Court. [read here]

Sydney Morning Herald– Feature on the front page of the website in regards to the NYPD Cricket program. [read here]

Tweed Daily News, Australia

Gold Coast Bulletin, Australia

Werner Institute, School of Law, Creighton University Newsletter Win-Win (Fall 2009)

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.

ADR News

May 20, 2009

Nukes & Mediation- A Role For Japan?
…It is appropriate that Japan, a non-nuclear nation and a major peaceful user of nuclear power, is serving as a mediator to eliminate distrust between nuclear-capable nations and non-nuclear states and restore trust in the NPT system.What do you think? Read the full article [here]

$68.2 Million Claim Heads to Mediation
The hope is that mediation will help build consensus and avoid further litigation that could be costly and take up more time, said Rachel C. Strickland, a New York attorney representing LandAmerica.
“I think this case is just screaming out for this kind of mediation,” Huennekens said.
In mediation, a bankruptcy judge of Huennekens’ choosing will first take on a claim that the Henrico-based LandAmerica filed against the exchange company.
The parent company gave a total of $65 million in loans to help the exchange company cover operating costs when investments in auction-rate securities became illiquid.

Full article [here]

Mediator Enters College & Union Talks
Contract negotiations between College of the Canyons and the union representing 450 part-time faculty members resume today, this time with the help of a mediator to work through issues involving pay and seniority rights.”Hopefully the mediation works out where the district sees the fairness of both issues,” said Beverly Cope, president of Part-Time Faculty United.
Full article [here]

Tamil Tigers Call For Mediation
Somewhat breaking news, the Tamil Tigers have recently admitted defeat to the Sri Lanka government and I came across this article (posted in complete due to the shortness of it):
OSLO: Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels are willing to surrender their arms to a third party, after having conceded defeat in a 25-year civil war, former peace mediator Norway said on Sunday. “I have been in touch with the Tamil Tigers many times today,” Norway’s Development Aid Minister Erik Solheim said. “They have made it clear to us that they are ready to give up arms to the international community,” he said. reuters
From [here]

The Use of Mediation in Construction Disputes
Geoff Sharp over at Mediator Blah Blah found this 40 page, 2009 report on the above title, have a look [here]

Chad Opts For UN Mediation With Sudan
Chadian President Idriss Deby has opted for the mediation of the UN, instead of the African Union (AU), to resolve the crisis between the country and Sudan.The President announced the decision while addressing thousands of his compatriots, who were protesting last week’s rebel attack against Chad. Chad believes the rebels were sponsored by Sudan Both countries have traded accusations over alleged support for their insurgents.
Full story [here]

ADR News

May 14, 2009

Fiji Mediation Success Rate
SINCE the inception of the Mediation Service over 84 per cent disputes have been resolved through mediation.It was initially launched by the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment and based on the above figure Fiji’s settlement rate better than some foreign countries.“Compared to other countries like Singapore, their mediation centre settlement rate is 75 percent and other countries are about 80 percent,” Taito Waqa, the ministries Permanent Secretary said in a statement yesterday.
Full story [here]

Six years of dispute resolution for Victorian commission
The Victorian Small Business Commissioner’s office is celebrating six years of dispute resolution and has just handled its 5500th case. The office has established an alternative dispute resolution service which has involved not just local small business but national franchises.
Full story [here]

Mediation Pedagogy Coneference at Harvard Law School
If this is the first time you are hearing about this, it is safe to say you will not be attending the conference which is a shame. Don’t worry though, I won’t be there either but I do have some collegues attending which hopefully will be giving me a full report upon return.

What is the conference all about? from the site:
The conference will bring together academics and professional trainers of mediation to discuss teaching the skills and concepts of mediation to a variety of professional and disciplinary audiences. Our goal is to question pedagogical assumptions, share our experiences, and learn from each other. While the conference is open to the public, it will be geared primarily toward those who teach mediation.
The PON has assembled a fantastic list of presenters including Lela Love, Steven J. Brams, Ran Kuttner, Bruce Patton, and Leonard L. Riskin among many others.
Read more [here]

Labor Party Wants Court Mediation To Handle Native Title Claims
The federal coalition won’t say if it will support changes to the native title system in the upper house, after Liberal senators raised concerns about giving the Federal Court more power.
A draft law passed the lower house on Thursday which would give the court a more central role in adjudicating native title claims, of which there is a backlog of about 500.
Labor wants the court to manage mediation with the aim of encouraging negotiated settlements rather than costly litigation.

Full Story [here]

Mediation Continues Over Weatherman’s Sacking
Mediation between sacked climate scientist Jim Salinger and the state science company which employed him failed to reach an agreement today, his lawyer said.
Dr Salinger was sacked from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) last month after more than 20 years service.
The high-profile scientist, whose work contributed to a Nobel prize, was reported to have been axed for ignoring a new Niwa policy against speaking publicly without prior approval…

…After the two sides met at a closed mediation session in Auckland today, Dr Salinger’s lawyer Alex Hope said that no agreement had been reached but negotiations would continue.
Full story [here]

News For 5.11.09

May 11, 2009

Panel recommends Harvard ombudsman to bridge police, campus ‘schism’
An independent committee recommended today that Harvard University create a public-safety ombudsman and take other steps to mend the at-times rocky relationship between the campus police force and the diverse community it patrols.
The committee, appointed by Harvard President Drew Faust in August after some black students and staff complained of racial profiling by the predominantly white police force, said in an 81-page report that more work needs to be done to create a welcoming, safe, and open environment for the Harvard community.
Full article [
here]

Government Considers Option for Civil Dispute Resolution
NSW, Australia- The New South Wales Government wants to make it easier to resolve civil neighbourhood disputes over issues like fences and noise.
Attorney-General John Hatzistergos says only a small number of civil disputes are decided by a judge, but people still spend a lot of time and money preparing for court.
He has released a discussion paper on the issue which suggests alternatives to resolving civil disputes, including free legal advice and mediation.
Submissions on the discussion paper close at the end of the month.
Note, this is the entire article, the link is [
here]

Program Readies Inmates ‘Reunions’
HAGERSTOWN, Md. A unique program geared to preparing prison inmates to reunite with their families and loved ones upon release has spread to Washington County.
Following models already in place at prisons in Baltimore and Jessup, Md., the Washington County Community Mediation Center started arranging “re-entry mediation” sessions for inmates at Maryland Correctional Training Center, a medium-security men’s prison south of Hagerstown, said Valerie Main, executive director of the Washington County center.
Full Article [here]

Voters Turn Down Mediator
ESSEX — Before humans first stepped onto windswept Conomo Point, it served as a natural divider between Essex Bay and Essex River; since the town of Essex took control of the land, it has had a similar effect on its residents.
Voters at Monday night’s annual Town Meeting were divided in ways other than numbers — 73 opposed, and 59 in favor — when asked if selectmen, along with the tenants of Conomo Point, should retain the services of a mediator to discuss the future of town-owned land north of Robbins Island Road.
Full article [here]

Mediators In Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process

NICOSIA, May 6 (Xinhua) — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday called for a reinforced role for the Quartet in reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process on a two-state basis.
In a message sent to an international meeting in support of Israeli-Palestinian peace held in Nicosia, the U.N. chief emphasized that the Quartet, which includes the United States, the European Union, Russia, and the U.N., remains, are firmly committed to the goal of a two-state solution.
…Tony Blair, the Quartet’s current special envoy, has said that the mediators will adopt a new strategic plan, while the U.S. President Barack Obama pushing for the establishment of a Palestinian state, has he met his Israeli counterpart Simon Peres in Washington.
Full article [
here]

Mediation & ADR News

May 5, 2009

Staff Demand for Conflict Resolution Up 25%

The number of formal complaints filed by faculty and staff to the conflict resolution section of Human Resources has increased by 25 percent this year, a university official said.
Shari Barnes, conflict resolution facilitator, said the number of complaints received rises every year but this year’s 25 percent jump is the largest increase ever. It has been available to university staff members since October 2000 and to faculty members since May 2005, she said.

Full story [here]

Vodafone Says No To Mediator
Vodafone yesterday rejected 12th-hour offers from independent mediators to settle the row over interference from the new Telecom 3G mobile network.
Full story [here]

Should Town Hire a Mediator?
ESSEX — Days after residents were shown plans to subdivide Conomo Point south of Robbins Island Road — a benchmark in a process given the go-ahead by voters last year — residents at tonight’s annual Town Meeting will be asked if the town should hire a mediator to help reach a common ground over what’s to be done with the rest of Conomo Point.
Full story [here]

Kansas City Cuts Mediation Program
The City of Kansas City, Mo., Dispute Resolution/Community Relations section of the Human Relations Division has been eliminated due to adoption of the fiscal year 2009-10 budget. Reduction in Force procedures also eliminated all remaining staff in that office last week.
Full article [here]

ACORN Pushes For Mandatory Bank-Homeowner Mediation
Organizers for ACORN held a press conference on the steps of the Osceola County Courthouse in Kissimmee, Florida on Tuesday, April 28 at 1:00 PM to introduce a mediation program designed to help homeowners under threat of foreclosure stay in their homes.
Full story [here]

Mediation & ADR News

April 28, 2009

Fiji Under Pressure to Allow International Mediators
“What we are hoping is that the UN will continue to engage in the dialogue and mediation process to do with Fiji in partnership with the Commonwealth and obviously working through the Pacific Forum.”
Read more [here]

Police Tell Warring Residents to Seek Mediation
POLICE have urged warring Coomera Waters residents to seek mediation after the ongoing dispute about who should have access to a footpath took another dramatic turn…
Police Acting Inspector Andrew Dupere said rather than fight, residents should consider mediation.
Insp Dupere said police would not become involved but if called would help keep the peace.
“It’s a civil matter. We’re there to keep the peace and make sure no violence happens between the different parties or it doesn’t escalate into violence,” he said.

Read more [here]

Victims Prefer Mediation Over Legal Action
The latest research conducted in KwaZulu- Natal, the province with the highest incidence of domestic violence, shows that most victims prefer mediation to taking their abusers to court.
The victims participated in victim-centred restorative justice mediation voluntarily.

Full article [here]

Flexibility, partnerships, knowledge key to mediating conflicts – UN official
To boost its ability to prevent and limit bloodshed, the United Nations must have flexible funding, regional partnerships and accessible information for mediation, the Organization’s political chief said today.
“Mediation is a Charter activity of the United Nations and must be carried out with the highest degree of professionalism, transparency and preparation to promote peace and security,” …

Full article [here]

The Brave New World of Disputes

April 27, 2009

A recent article written in the National Law Journal by Ian Meredith, Laura Atherton and Marcus M. Birch gives us a glance at potential massive disputes that will arise in the next two decades. The top three areas of possible conflict stem from the analysis of the National Intelligence Council’s 2008 report, “2025 Global Trends: A Transformed World. They are:

  1. Competition for carbon-based sources of energy. The NIC predicts that scarcity of carbon-based sources of energy and a desire for secure access to energy supplies will bring countries into conflict.
  2. Water. Activities by countries close to a water source that reduce the water available to downstream countries through diversion, retention and pollution of water are increasing worldwide, and with them the number of disputes.
  3. Natural Resources of the seabed. there are potentially 430 maritime boundaries among 67 coastal countries, fewer than half are agreed upon and only a handful of those involve the outer continental shelf, disputes are inevitable.

As with today’s global economy situation, financial disputes also are listed a potential provider to international conflict. A worthy note is financial disputes are not just between international corporations, but also between nations. The recent Naftohaz Ukrainy and Gazprom dispute, both state run by the Ukraine and Russia respectively, serves as an example.

So how does ADR fit in on the international stage? Well, The EU Directive on Mediation in Civil and Commercial Matters, adopted in 2008, not only encourages mediation but also the enforcement of agreements reached there as well.

The article adds that the international neutral community will face two challenges:

  1. The need for greater sophistication in the mechanisms deployed to stimulate settlement;
  2. The need for greater cultural sensitivity as mediation is used to address disputes between parties from different cultural traditions.

The issue of cultural sensitivity seems to be ‘popping’ up often. When attending the recent American Bar Association section on Dispute Resolution’s Spring Conference in New York City, there were numerous sessions dedicated to the issue of mediating internationally and the issue of cultural differences.

Read the entire article [here].