This news headline grabbed my attention from the International Balkan News Agency publication - "Slovenia Preparing for Arbitration Ruling on Border with Croatia"
Why does that grab my attention? Well several years ago I found myself in the lovely fairytale city of Ljubljana.
I was there for an ADR event, largely mediation but spattered with sessions on arbitration, and was enjoying some "down time" (I suppose it is my stories of down time to my children that makes them refer to my overseas business trips as "Work Holidays") when I heard a lot of noise coming from the other side of one of the gorgeous bridges they have in the centre of Ljubljana.
My wife often says I have no natural curiosity, but that day I did, and I wandered over the bridge to see a huge demonstration in the city square. There were thousands of people, waving flags and chanting* and it was quite exciting to be part of it on a really hot summers day.
After a few seconds though I saw a banner that had the word "arbitražni" on it. How odd. I had never seen the word arbitražni (or more fittingly, its English translation, arbitration, on anything outside of 12 Bloomsbury Square (the home of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators) or some big international arbitration conference, so why was it on a banner in the middle of the city square in Ljubljana?
Well it transpires that this was a demonstration against the use of arbitration to decide land border disputes between the countries of Slovenia and Croatia! Of all the days to be there it felt really fitting for me to be thousands of miles from home at an ADR event and the people of that country were rising en mass to demonstrate against the use of arbitration!
I should add that a few months later I was lucky enough to go to Zagreb, Croatia, on another "Work Holiday". No demonstrations this time but I did enjoy a healthy conversation between lawyers from both Slovenian and Croatia on the issue, and neither seemed that keen on arbitration as a vehicle for resolution, both favouring mediation!
I look forward to the outcome of this very public arbitration, not as much as the people of Slovenia and Croatia probably are, but I'm looking forward to it nonetheless.