The variety of "alternatives" in ADR
It seems that law schools and ADR organizations in Ontario are beginning to realize the value of both understanding and embracing diversity in mediation/negotiation/ADR.
In November of 2016, ADRIO and the Family Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario (FDRIO) offered a joint session entitled "Mediation in a Pluralistic Society." The focus of this session was described as follows:
"Our culture, gender, religion and ethnicity is at the core of our beings. It defines who we are, where we came from, and defines our world and life view. Awareness of the cultural expectations that surround the dispute resolution process is an essential tool for mediators, in helping parties feel comfort- able, in trusting the process and working towards resolution. Left unrecognized, cultural values and differences can profoundly affect a mediation’s outcome and potentially lead towards failure from the outset."
The 4th Annual Joint Winkler/International Academy of Mediators/OsgoodePD Conference on Mediation is exploring a similar theme in their upcoming May 11, 2017 conference, "Mediation Advocacy in the Age of Diversity". As the program states, the focus of this meeting is on the cultural interests at play in mediation, Like the ADRIO/FDRIO conference before it, the Winkler conference pays specific attention to First Nations disputes ("bridging the cultural gap"), and expands its scope to include sports and entertainment disputes as a "different kind of diversity". Why focus on diversity? Their website explains:
Diversity issues, the focus of this year’s program, pose even greater challenges and require mediators, counsel and human resource professionals to know the range of strategic and tactical options so they can advise on the pros and cons of each. Developed as part of a unique partnership of legal, mediation and academic experts, the goal of this joint Winkler/IAM/ OsgoodePD annual program... is to provide a forum for discussion focusing on broadening the skills of counsel, mediators and HR professionals who deal with diversity issues in the context of mediation.
This explicit referencing and exploration of the ways in which the existence of difference can enhance the field of Alternative Dispute Resolution is encouraging. Conflict is universal and cross-cultural, as is a desire to mediate and resolve those conflicts. Our own practice of ADR can only be enhanced by noticing the true variety of alternatives in ADR, and the above-mentioned conferences are useful venues through which this conversation can begin.
Details of upcoming Winkler/IAM/OsgoodePD conference here.
Details of past ADRIO/FDRIO session here.