I was recently in Chisinau for the launch of the new Mediation Centre based within the national Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Moldova. When reflecting on what to speak about at the ceremony, the first thing that came to my mind was about the collaborative effort, perseverance, and effort that it has taken from many individuals and organisations to realise the successes that have led to the registration and opening of the Mediation Centre. While there are countless people to thank, I would like to highlight some key stakeholders that have contributed to the opening of the mediation centre.
Key to the entire project has been the Legal Transition Team of the EBRD who have not only sponsored the project but who also understood how important a mediation centre was to continue the development of ADR within Moldova. Their guidance has been invaluable for both the Ministry of Justice and the project team here at CEDR.
The Mediation Centre is located in the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and is directed by Andrei Balan. He was appointed by the President of the Chamber, Mr Lazar, who recognised the numerous benefits that mediation can provide for the business community within the Eastern European country. His continued support, energy and enthusiasm for the project has provided opportunities for the Centre supported by CEDR consultants to visit chamber offices throughout the country.
Successive Ministers of Justice, their deputies and key staff, have given the project their full support. They have taken the time to understand the project and publicly support the objectives of Mediation Centre and its role in developing mediation in the country. Likewise, over the past three years the British Ambassador to Moldova, Phil Batson, has advocated for, and supported the project believing that it can provide some meaningful commercial benefit to individuals in Moldova, and beyond. The collaboration of multiple actors is an excellent example of effectiveness in development assistance.
From the first meeting, in January 2013, the Mediation Council has continued to provide support and guidance, particularly in the early stages of the project. The Council and its members have been key in formally registering the Centre making it the first of its kind in Moldova. The mediation panels of the Centre are comprised of CEDR Accredited Mediators who were the first court-mediators in the country. With diverse professional backgrounds and experiences, these individuals are championing the use of mediation within their sectors. Continuing best practice and setting firm foundations of excellence, peer support networks have been established with additional support given externally by CEDR.
The launch also owes a great deal of gratitude to CEDR’s team. Notably CEDR’s local coordinators have gone above and beyond what was ever expected. The challenging circumstances that they have worked in and their dedication to the project can never be truly captured in words, suffice to say nothing could have been achieved without them. In addition, we were fortunate enough to have excellent technical and cultural expertise from ACI partners, a law firm who have supported the project. This collaboration has demonstrated how important it is to have local/regional expertise and support.
As you can see from the wide range of individuals and stakeholder groups, it has required a tremendous amount of time and energy to ensure that the Mediation Centre has the strongest possible start. They, along with those who have already used the mediation process and the opportunities that it provides in the courts, will be essential in the development and promotion of mediation and all ADR processes in Moldova. Only through education and understanding will true integration of this process, as a viable method of dealing with commercial disputes, ever become a reality. I look forward to reporting on the first anniversary of the centre, and the potential it has to introduce an alternative approach to protracted commercial disputes in Moldova.