One of the downsides of training mediators internationally is that you often do not get to see how they develop; after training even though one may return to the jurisdiction, it is often not possible to track all the mediators that you have trained. This is also true of those we equip to become local trainers in mediation skills.
Recently, it has been a real privilege for me to have had a number of occasions where through the International Finance Corporation (World Bank Group) project in the Middle East and North Africa, I have been working in three different countries where my former students have become my trainer colleagues.
The first example is the recent training work undertaken in Pakistan. CEDR first trained trainers in Pakistan as part of a separate project in Karachi in 2007-2008 for the World Bank. Since that time, the trainer mediators have been affiliated to the Karachi Centre for Dispute Resolution, and have undertaken training of over 200 judges in mediation as well as other mediation and conflict management courses. This current project is looking to develop mediation in Lahore and so as part of creating sustainability, CEDR utilised a mixed training team of UK-based trainers and Karachi-based trainers. This mixed team was a great success with the Pakistani trainers able to contextualise mediator skills into the local environment much more effectively than the UK trainers could. Their skills combined with the experience and mentorship of the CEDR trainers meant that the end result was high quality and locally relevant training. This method of collaborative training provided a platform for Karachi trainers to work cooperatively with the newly accredited Lahore trainers who were observing the training after being trained as trainers earlier in the project.
A second more recent example is the two teams of mediator trainers trained in Egypt. The first team of Egyptian (and one Lebanese) trainers are focussed on the private sector working with the Cairo Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (CRCICA). They have observed the CEDR team delivering the mediator skills course and have now worked with us in Lebanon and Morocco as co-trainers. The second group of trainers in Egypt are judges from the Preparation Panel of the Economic Court which has a mediation function. They too have observed CEDR trainers and then and co-delivered to other judges in Morocco and also to their own judge colleagues on a subsequent course in Cairo in which we have just successfully completed.
With all the trainer groups, their competence, confidence and openness to learn has humbled and delighted me and my UK colleagues. You would think with them working in Arabic and us in English, it would be a bit awkward, however the opposite is true! The variety, different approaches and angles in which we are able to contribute to participants learning, greatly enriches the course.
This well thought out and planned IFC project continues to be a delight to work on. To witness the foundations of sustainability in each country being firmly laid, I look forward with optimism about the future of mediation in these countries. It will be a slow development, just like everywhere, but there is the talent and commitment to make to work!