I just came back from two days at CEDR’s International Trainers’ Network training, and it was fantastic. I wanted to share with you the feeling of this session, but it’s hard to put word on all that we have shared. Perhaps if I can use an analogy I would say that mediation has an amazing way to grow in our world. It grows like trees in the complex soil of a garden made of so many parcels. Some more welcoming and some less. Some fields are rock hard where nothing grows, some are nurtured for decades and thrive. Well these last days I met the men and women working hard to maintain and nurture their plants. The Italian trying to clear-up their fast-growing tree with a hedge trimmer or the French experimenting cuisine with early picked fruits, the Greek who saw their tree cut down just before flourishing, but also the protector of Pakistan who, despite a difficult soil, still maintain hope and protect their young sprouts, and so many more.

Yes mediation is very much like a seed. The soil in which it grows, by which I mean the country, the culture or community in which it is bought, is of the outmost important for the practice to thrive and become an integral part of the society. But it is not always welcoming nor fit for mediation and must be prepared before anything can grow. And even then, if it is left alone, it will grow wild amidst weeds that will slowly make it disappear. As in many places it is still a young practice, we need men and women to champion mediation in their culture, and protect the fundamental key-elements that make it unique.

Before we go any further, what is CEDR’s International ADR Trainers’ Network? Well CEDR is much more than an “ADR Provider”. Our goal, from our first days, 25 years ago, has been to develop mediation in the UK and throughout the world. This is what we now call our CEDR Foundation. We have worked hard over a quarter of a century to spread mediation throughout the world and ensuring consistency and high quality standards in the practice. This is precisely what the ADR Trainers’ Network is about. Mediation is a very structured practice, and yet it is also varied, always adapting the process to the culture, the needs of the parties, the group, the community, etc. As such, building best-practice standards of mediation must be done through collaboration and exchange those who practise it.

CEDR has trained mediators throughout the world, and taught them how to share these skills, ensuring the ability for them to continue spreading the practice in their country. Thus the ADR Trainers’ Network was built. Those in the Network gather every two years to exchange on their experience, difficulties and ideas, to prepare the future of mediation, and to debate on the practice. This provides our ADR trainers with a better understanding of the impact of culture on their work, and how to share this particularity of mediation with their own trainees. This guarantees common grounds throughout the world, while at the same time respecting local particularities. The greatest strength of mediation comes from the differences in its practitioners and trainers, and this is how best practice of mediation is adapted.

These passionate people, full of energy and creativity have taught us lots during this gathering. And we will be sharing as much as we can in the coming days. More articles will come and I hope they will help you understand how mediation is currently growing and adapting to its environment with the objective to provide the people with a safe new tool of dialogue and democracy.

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By  Joachim Müller

CEDR Says is the official blog from the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution, featuring writing and musings on dispute resolution news, updates, and current opinion. CEDR Says is contributed to by staff from across the organisation.