When training mediators in our mediator skills training course, one of the things our trainers emphasise is that mediators need to be committed to the process and persevere in order to facilitate settlement – long beyond when the parties might want to give up.

This week I have been working with the mediation board of Trinidad and Tobago, and it has reminded me that these qualities of commitment and perseverance not only relate to mediators themselves, but to all of us who work in this new emerging profession of mediation and dispute resolution. The mission of the mediation board of Trinidad and Tobago is to amongst other thingsraise the standards of mediators and mediation training and promote awareness of mediation as a tool of dispute resolution. What impressed me, having attended the board’s retreat, was the shared commitment and perseverance of board members to this task. There was a genuine desire to ensure that the practice of mediation was delivered at the very highest standards to disputants involved in conflict in Trinidad and Tobago. The result of this commitment and preserverance is the considerable development that has occurred in mediation on island within those 10 years.

And so it is in most jurisdictions which I have visited over the years as part of my consultancy and thought leadership role at CEDR. Individuals who are involved in this profession as mediators, trainers, or managers of organisations constantly have to fight an uphill battle in order to embed mediation as an integral part of the way society deals with disputes. Firstly we have to fight the battle of convincing stakeholders that mediation has an important role to play. Following this, we then have to train new mediators in an environment which has not yet had mediations. The mediators that are then trained and enthusiastic must remain committed and persevere in situations in which there is often a lack of actual opportunities for them to practice. Mediation service providers have the uphill battle of trying to create demand in the face of resistance from lawyers and others, and they also must persevere and develop a business, which is often very difficult to make viable financially.

But the good news is that we are all collectively winning. CEDR’s work around the world in 10 years has shown me that the use of mediation marches inexorably forward. Granted, it is slower than is desirable, but in so many jurisdictions worldwide mediation is now becoming an integral part of the fabric of society. This is a testament to all of us who are committed to this process and the benefits that it brings to the societies within which we operate, and it is for this reason that I believe that we must all persevere in order to ensure that the benefits of mediation are delivered to all citizens within all jurisdictions. So to all of you I say: keep that commitment and have confidence that we are moving forward, and continue to persevere even when the odds seem stacked against you.

James South is CEDR’s Director of Global Training and Consultancy and has been mediating public and private sector disputes for 17 years. As one of the world’s most experienced dispute resolution trainers and consultants James is responsible for the development of CEDR’s leading courses in Mediation, Negotiation and Conflict Management for legal and business organisations, the public sector, universities and professional bodies.