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New Mediators' Guidance from Youth Conference

by Jonathan Rodrigues, Clare Fowler, Maria Apostolidou, Ilan David Bass, Amee Dharamshi, Melanie Koch, Nisshant Laroia, Benjamin Lutz, Gwendolyn Myers, Olivia Chisom Osuala, Lydia Ray, Sumhiya  Sallay, Jay Patrick Santiago, Salman Shaheen

May 2021

This article summarizes the Young Minds, Global Voices Conference.

This conference was sponsored by mediate.com in May 2021 in an effort to hear from newer mediators. They discussed obstacles and opportunities in 6 different foci: Diversity, Technology, Funding, Career, Training, and Mental Health Skills. Conference video recordings begin here.

Each section is arranged by: OBSTACLES, OPPORTUNITIES, & QUESTIONS.

Table of Contents:

Diversity

Moderated by:
Gwendolyn Myers (UK, Switzerland, Liberia, USA), Melanie Koch (Germany, Mexico), Maria Apostolidou (Greece) 

Gwendolyn Myers        

Diversity Summary:

  • Goal is bring everyone to the table, leave no voice behind.
  • Diversity needs to focus on Awareness, Affordability, and Accessibility.

Obstacles:

Lack of an invitation

Not an open door for everyone

Didn’t see that they could join

How to open the door for everyone in training programs?

There is an implicit bias

Lack of trust: don’t trust youth or women

Exploitation of European-style of mediation, culture-diminishing. Donor-who is paying for mediation-needs to allow culture-appropriate mediation process.

India: tendency to do deals with friends, and the process continues for decades. Also, attorneys do not see the value of mediation.

In Europe, hard to be hired unless you are a grey-haired “pigeon.”

In Cameroon, older males are the preferred mediators, but youngers are starting to join the scene.

In Brazil, people do not see a lot of options for resolving conflicts. They go to the judiciary and have the court help them. Most people cannot afford a private mediator.

In many cultures, there is a fear with facing the other party in the dispute. Also, in Greece and Latin America, there is a concern that mediators might not have authority to resolve disputes, so people often turn to police to resolve issues, even if the police are not qualified to resolve this.

In Asia, women are afraid they will be patronized in mediation, that they will not be empowered.

Many mediation models are based on a European style, and are not flexible for honoring other cultures.

In Greece, it can take 7 years to resolve a dispute. Mediation is not encouraged, so many people suffer with disputes instead of feeling that they can resolve their issues.

Opportunities:

Youth Peace Talks

Youth leaders—organizing, voting, and designing process

Good idea to see role models—show diversity in leadership positions

Be open to mediation that reflects different cultures, such as Palaba Hut, or Ho’oponopono, or faith-based

Remember—the mediator’s role is not to find the solution, it is your role to help provide a safe space for them, so don’t just create a space that feels safe to you.

Research—academics ask for new ideas

Capacity building—set young people up for success, equipped for diverse conversations

Mediation programs designed with space for additional language, cultures, and process.

Ask young people, “How should we do this?” Not—“I did this, enjoy it.”

Comediations—bring more voices into the room. Normalize comediation as part of the professional mediation process. Bring in a variety of cultures or different ideas in process.

India: developing ADR mechanisms in the juvenile justice system, so that youth voices can be represented in mediation.

Discuss the value that different voices bring: females can be empathic, youth can bring more energy, non-lawyers can be omnipartial, etc.

Support more peer mediation process—write articles promoting the idea.

In Cameroon, everyone is eligible to sit for the dispute resolution exam—regardless of your age—and then you can select your specialty (conciliation, mediation, arbitration, facilitation, etc.). Then people can advertise themselves based on their grade on the exam.

In Brazil, what people are looking for is community mediation centers or court-funded mediation so that there are cheaper options. This will increase accessibility and affordability of mediation.

Bring mediation to social media. Start student mediation competitions in high schools around the world. This will bring awareness when people are young, so they can start to see collaborative processes as the norm.

Mediators should start showing the price difference: Use what you would spend on one session with a lawyer to resolve the entire dispute.

Mediators should begin educating people on basic rights—people can have access to justice. Show people that they are resourceful and knowledgeable.

India: Panchayats—5 respected leaders of the village join to resolve the disputes. Allow more people to be trained in processes like this.

In US, we tend to not recognize the importance of other cultures. Important to begin by asking about what makes this a comfortable process. Important for mediators to be willing to slow down if that is what is comfortable for that culture.  

Basic 40-hr mediation trainings should include a session on recognizing other cultures, and discussing other processes for mediation.

Create articles or trainings that discuss neurodiversity and accessibility. Encourage writing competitions that share ideas on these topics.

Create an organization/subgroup for members that need their voices to be heard. This will strengthen their voices, and their humanity/values will be stronger in groups. Circles can begin uniting.

When writing—be intentional about including a diversity of voices. Make a conscious effort to read and quote articles from a variety of authors. This adds a richness to your writing.

Publishing a united message across a variety of platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc.). Sharing the message that mediation represents all voices.

In Lebanon, they are considering adding quotas to mediation centers—that a percentage will have to be young, or female, or non-attorney.

Questions to consider for improving diversity:

  • Is it a good idea to have a quota?
  • Where are the areas where diversity is needed?
  • How can we promote the values that make you unique, instead of apologizing for differences (age, gender, culture, etc.)?

Technology:

Moderated by:
Benjamin Lutz (USA), Chisom Osuala (Nigeria, USA), Salman Shaheen (Saudi Arabia)  

   

Technology Summary: 

Always focus on what makes tech seamless. 

Focus on what tech makes life easier for you--AND for your clients. 

Obstacles:

AI cannot standalone for helping ADR. They can be programmed to reflect an unconscious bias. But if there are people checking, then it can be programmed to overmand an individual’s basis.

Average age of females mediators in UK is 51, Males is 59.

Trust in Security and Privacy in videoconferencing, and emails (not encrypted)

Making mediation sessions more accessible, by having sign language as an option during videoconferencing rather than just subtitles

In in-person meetings, there would be more small talk, helping to make everyone involved more comfortable and familiar. Important to not be too worried about the agenda or scheduling things too close together.

Cost of access in attending meetings, certain things are necessary—devices, services etc. as well as nice to have—good background, lighting, strong connection

Appearance is limited to that one screen, important to take notice of lighting, appearance, audio etc.

Always a chance of someone leaking something, hacking, sharing

It can make us feel guilty that we are not working in hours since it is so easy to continue to do work in our off hours.

Opportunities:

Benefits of tech: the ability to bring so many people together. Allows you to gain more perspective. Brings more people to the table.

The biggest benefit of tech is accessibility. Removing the physical barrier. –Also can help to remove the language barrier, and remove the disconnect with the new updates in translation

AI has been very beneficial for ADR, by adding ideas and suggested models. Can be helpful for low-priority or simple disputes, and free up mediators for resolving complex disputes.

Videoconferencing is important for developing rapport.

Electronic File Transfers—also helpful, of course, but necessary to ensure that

You can easily say something to just one party, while being on a call with someone else through private messaging without completely ignoring the other person or compromising confidentiality

Questions:

  • What are the different ways that tech has improved accessibility? Such as closed captioning, improving internet.
  • Areas where tech is helping? Where are tech improvements needed?
  • Examples of AI helping ADR?
  • Think about how tech can affect 4 areas (From Mind the Gap): Admin Roles, Communication Roles (facilitating communication between the parties), Substantive Roles (mediation itself), & Practice Support Roles (supporting mediators, marketing, etc.)
  • What are opportunities that have come from this transition to online?
  • How can we ensure privacy and security in a virtual setting?
  • Would the disadvantages outweigh the advantages of AI taking over the HR piece?
  •  More efficient, loss of respect and empathy, a chance it can be programmed with bias

Resources:

  • Dream: AI which completes the presence of human touch, AI which helps confidentiality, helps determine timezones, dishwashing robot, face analysis to determine triggering/level, secure file transfer that is secure but easy, automatically assesses what would be useful to clients, Ai to tell me current mood of other, lie detector, teleportation device, fosters human bonding, understands neurodiversity, accurate closed captions,
  • Signal-private messaging app, like whatsapp in every way, but not as popular, not owned by facebook, therefore more secure
  • VPNs-very important to ensure security, also, if someone is trying to share a link that is specific for Germany, you can say your network is in Germany
  • Here’s the article on decision-making fatigue: https://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/magazine/do-you-suffer-from-decision-fatigue.html
  • Help with zoom fatigue, Bluelight glasses, f.lux-screen to put on your computer, will help filter out bluelight

We can recognize and acknowledge these issues in subtle ways as well.  I've added to my e-mail signature the following line: "My available working hours and your working hours may be different. Please do not feel obligated to reply outside your normal working hours."

AI: 1) creating a computer, 2) connecting a computer to another computer (chatting), 3) advertising (target marketed advertising based on your search), 4) connecting internet to the devices, pouring on the cloud, 5) controlling with our mind (“think call Benjamin”)

"Someone in my college alumnae network mentioned shutting their computer at the end of the day and tying it shut with a ribbon as a sort of end-of-day ritual. (Obviously won't help with a 5:30 p.m. massive request, but, outside of that seems like a nice way to step away)."

 


Funding Session

Moderated by:

Amee Dharamshi (India), Jay Patrick Santiago (Philippines)

 

 

 

Funding Summary: What do I need to fund my mediation training/career? (not necessarily money!). Use social media to market yourself!

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