CEDR’s biennial International ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) Trainers’ Network, with over 30 professionals, from 17 countries worldwide and kindly hosted by both Allen & Overy and CMS, was held in London four weeks ago. The International ADR Trainers Network, created by CEDR in 2011, brings together high quality trainers biennially to provide a forum for the sharing of ideas about current practice worldwide, innovations in the field of mediation training delivery, developing Standards and Good Practice for ADR Trainers.
With CEDR’s extensive experience working with jurisdictions across all continents, training mediators in over 70 countries, developing and implementing Civil Justice reform and resolving, high-profile international disputes, we have worked with many excellent local ADR trainers and this event seeks to continue to develop this network of the worldwide ADR trainer community. The wide array of cultural, legal and professional backgrounds offered a great opportunity for reflection, the sharing of stories, experiences and insights on the successes and challenges of developing ADR in all locations.
The workshop was split over two days, the first day being devoted to trainers from all jurisdictions and the second a combination of our global partners and our UK based faculty.
Universal solutions with local applications
The focus of the first day was the sharing and exchange of ideas on how to develop mediation training standards with international consistency and in different national jurisdictions. Each country had unique challenges when delivering or implementing conflict management and resolution processes. This is due to the varied levels of understanding of ADR, preconceived cultural approaches to dispute resolution, cultures of the legal and business community and the level of financial, institutional and intellectual support available.
In order to explore how these potential difficulties may be overcome, the trainers’ were tasked with individually devising a pitch on the implementation of a mediation training programme. The trainers agreed upon some common transnational techniques to enable successful presentation of their ideas. These included: positive language and reframing any concerns; novelty and innovative thinking and tailoring the training product to specific needs as opposed to a broad academic sell. The delegates reflected on innovations and trends and how they might provide solutions to problems encountered when formulating a pitch plan.
Trainers thought that top-level judicial lobbying and endorsement was essential. With support from judges, confidence in mediation will filter down into the business community, encouraging take up on a voluntary and court urged basis.
Other areas that were explored were the creation of a comprehensive system for conflict management which included the training of in-house mediators in certain organisations and dedicated high end case managers and upskilling individuals, teams and organisations in conversational intelligence – dialogue and negotiation training.
The international diversity of trainers’ present also allowed for the sharing of challenges within their jurisdiction:
- A Dutch delegate identified the adversarial styles of business present in the Netherlands as an obstacle to further uptake in conflict resolution training and suggested that demonstrating to commercial managers the productivity and financial benefit to efficient dispute management would help change attitudes.
- From a Pakistani perspective, it was felt that the establishment of a national regulatory body, administering regulations and standards would assist greatly with the take-up of mediation due to an unwillingness to be answerable to foreign organisations and a desire to take ownership of the project.
- Closer to home, in the United Kingdom, while mediation is well established and has been largely successful, one of the big challenges that remain is that governmental support is too sporadic, and resources need to be invested in formulating and articulating best practice guidelines and support so as to ensure the quality of mediators and mediations.
Moving forward, a number of key themes emerged from the international ADR trainer’s day. There was a real desire to start or increase engagement with young people and professionals earlier in their lives and careers. Conflict management skills are integral to success in one personal and professional life, thus there was widespread support for embedding education in this field in schools, universities and the workplace. ADR, like all industries, is subject to the influence of technology and there is need to embrace both the opportunities and challenges posed by these developments. The online training delivery of training is now an established training methodology of training in companies, and therefore mediator training organisations need to respond by considering innovative ways to use online platforms to provide college and skills based training to new and existing mediators. Finally, there was a tremendous sense of enjoyment and learning that came from cross-cultural interactions and sharing of ideas.
The second day brought together our international and UK based trainers for an exercise in crisis negotiation and a workshop delivered by Jack Pinter from the National Theatre. The workshop focused on how effective storytelling can be used by trainers and mediators to assist participants to learn or parties to move from conflict to agreement. Thinking through the successful construction of a story and the skills require dot deliver it, provided interesting insights useful to mediators and trainers alike.
Looking forward to the 2019 meeting
The friends and colleagues who make up our International ADR Trainers’ Network are bound by their passion and enthusiasm for training people to be effective mediators in order to help individuals and organisations better resolve their disputes. The opportunity to come together and share and learn from one another serves to inspire us to confidently tackle future challenges in our field.