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ABA Mediation Week focuses on the international importance of ADR

The third week in October has been designated by the American Bar Association and a variety of national, state and local organizations as Mediation Week. We’re celebrating the great strides that have been made in just the past few decades to promote the mediation of disputes and the use of alternative dispute resolution strategies in general.

Mediation Week has grown to include events sponsored by bar associations, law and other graduate schools, students, international business and conflict resolution organizations, and private and nonprofit dispute resolution providers across the nation and worldwide. Last year more than 50 events were held to celebrate non-adversarial conflict resolution.

This year, the ABA’s theme is “Making a World of Difference,” in recognition of the growing acceptance and use of mediation and ADR around the world, and the role mediation plays in “bridging differences in positions, perspectives and people.”

Policymakers and conflict resolution workers around the world have made great strides in resolving some truly daunting disputes through the work of mediation other forms of alternative dispute resolution. Some outstanding examples in the area of international conflict resolution include:

  • The Argentinean National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons, established in 1983 to bring about accountability for the disappearances and other human rights violations during that country's "Dirty War."
  • South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, established in 1995 by then-president Nelson Mandela to address injustices occurring during the apartheid era.
  • The Justice and Reconciliation Process after the Rwandan genocide, which was based on Gacaca, a traditional community court system.

In the U.S. legal system, mediation and other forms of ADR have earned increasing recognition as appropriate dispute resolution processes and paths to justice. Many disputes can be resolved more quickly and effectively through arbitration and mediation than in litigation, the foundation of which is adversarial.

In recognition of that fact, mediation and ADR are now recommended or required in numerous situations, including many contracts. Many state family law courts, in particular, have begun to require mediation before some disputes can be brought to a judge.

Mediation and other forms of ADR can be effective in resolving issues ranging from business disagreements, contract disputes, commercial and residential real estate issues, will contests and even personal injury claims.

Let’s all keep working on resolving disputes more amicably. Happy ABA Mediation Week!

Source: ABA Section of Dispute Resolution, "2013 Mediation Week: Making a World of Difference," Oct. 9, 2013

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