The Moral Obligations of Mediators

Moral Obligations

Mediators and all other neutral third parties have many ethical and moral obligations to abide by. As mediation grows in popularity and becomes a valuable dispute resolution method utilized by aggrieved parties who wish to avoid costly lawsuits and protracted court battles, the role of the mediator is pivotal in ensuring that both parties reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

However, it is important to examine the principles and moral obligations that guide the mediation process to guarantee a just and effective outcome.

This blog post will delve deeper into the moral obligations of mediators.

The Moral Obligation Principles of Mediation

As mentioned earlier, mediation is predicated on the principle of self-determination. Self-determination grants parties involved in a dispute the autonomy to make decisions and create their agreements.

Mediators assume the role of a neutral intermediary who facilitates communication and negotiates a mutually acceptable agreement.

Self-determination is one central tenet of mediation, but it is not enough to ensure a successful outcome. Mediators must recognize their moral obligations to uphold the integrity of the mediation process.

Mediators are morally obligated to exercise impartiality, and confidentiality, and promote respectful communication between parties. At the same time, they must ensure access to information and facilitate fairness and equity in the final agreement.

Let’s take a closer look at each moral obligation vital to the mediation process and how such an obligation is morally required to ensure the success of the process.


Maintaining impartiality is one of the most critical moral obligations of mediators. This primarily means that the mediator should avoid taking sides and exhibiting partiality towards one party over the other.

Neutrality is the most vital moral obligation in the mediation process, as it guarantees that both parties have an equal opportunity to share their viewpoints. If parties feel as though the mediator is biased, they will likely resist any agreement reached through the process.

Neutrality primarily means that the mediator should not have a vested interest in the outcome of the mediation. This implies that the mediator should have no experience, conflict of interest, or personal interest in the dispute’s outcome.

Furthermore, mediators should not entertain any bias or prejudice towards either party, regardless of the circumstance. They should not discriminate against any party based on race, gender, orientation, or any other characteristic.

Impartiality throughout the mediation process requires balance in opinion representation in discussions. A mediator must facilitate a discussion that ensures the parties have a fair chance to express their views and that these correspond to a shared agreement.


The most common fear that human beings have when finding themselves in a compromising situation is that their confidential information will get publicized. In mediation, confidentiality is central to the procedure’s fairness and success.

Beyond the given moral obligation of impartiality, confidentiality is critical to mediation. This means that mediators have an overarching moral obligation to preserve the confidentiality of the discussions.

Anything discussed during the mediation process should not be shared with anyone outside the process unless given explicit consent to do so.

Confidentiality guarantees the parties that they can freely exchange information without fear that it will be exposed to their fellow citizens. Additionally, it improves the chances of a successful agreement as the parties can discuss matters candidly and honestly without fearing the possibility of public scrutiny.

By maintaining confidentiality, mediators allow the parties and other members to take control of the information that is available for the mediator’s consideration during discussions. The mediator can use this information to help parties reach a mutually acceptable agreement.

Access to Information

Mediators have a moral obligation to promote access to information by ensuring that every participant receives all the relevant facts and records available, whether it is bank figures, IP addresses, or some other type of data.

This means that the mediator must ensure that neither party hides any information that could influence the agreement’s outcome. Mediators need to ascertain that parties have full and complete information to bargain on an equitable basis.

If one party has more information than the other, the prevailing side may profit from an inequitable agreement, which is not the intention of the mediation process.

Assuming that complete information is made available, both parties will approach the agreement from an informed standpoint. By having all the information relevant to the arguments in question, parties can discuss and assess their positions with efficiency based on the provided data.

By ensuring access to required information, mediators can facilitate a structured discourse, including the significance of every individual dispute.

Respect and Civility

Mediators have a moral obligation to promote respect and civility throughout the discussion sessions. Often, disputes arise from people challenging each other’s integrity or feelings of self-respect.

When people are angry and indignant, it can be challenging to pursue a reason and rational discourse. For this reason, mediators are obligated by moral theory to promote respect and civility as central tenets of successful negotiation processes.

Promoting respect and civility is inherently a moral requirement because it establishes a mutually beneficial collaborative conversation that seeks to establish commonality among the disputants.

The language and tone of the discussion are equally important, as it allows the mediators to guide a positive and cooperative conversation, leading to a mutually acceptable resolution.

Mediators should use various tactics to promote respect and civility. They could establish ground rules that both parties must abide by or a reminder for parties to stay mindful of their words and actions throughout the conversation.

Additionally, mediators can use positive steering techniques to help parties express themselves in cordial and constructive ways.

Mediators could ask parties to rephrase or explain their statements in other, non-offensive words. These techniques help parties remain focused while avoiding discussions that are inflammatory or aggressive.

Above all, mediators must recognize that promoting respect and civility is critical in guaranteeing a fruitful discussion that allows the parties to work towards a common goal.

Fairness and Equity

Mediators have a moral obligation to ensure that the agreement reached by the parties is fair and equitable. Fairness and equity are essential, especially in disputes that require the parties to split a resource or share responsibility.

Equity and fairness considerations include ensuring that neither side takes advantage of the other in the agreement.

Mediators ensure that only an equitable distribution of resources or responsibilities is made without a party being shortchanged in comparison to the other. Allowing one party to take advantage of another could lead to extreme poverty or hardship.

In ensuring fair agreements, mediators must listen to and comprehend the interests and objectives of both parties, including any possible weaknesses of the agreements reached.

Once the agreements have been reached, mediators must make sure that an enforceable and reasonable document based on the discussions is created and signed by both parties.

Fulfilling Moral Obligations

Mediators have a critical role in ensuring that the mediation process is ethical and productive. As discussed, mediators must be impartial, maintain confidentiality, provide access to information, promote respect and civility, and ensure fairness and equity.

To increase the likelihood of fulfilling these obligations, mediators must undergo proper training on ethical and moral considerations in the mediation process. The training should include a thorough examination of the principles of ethical conduct and obligations toward the process and parties participating in a mediation.

Publishers such as the Oxford University Press have several philosophical offerings on moral obligation and theory. In addition, there are several quality websites that discuss morality and mediation.

Through education and training, mediators will develop a better understanding of their obligations and how to fulfill them properly. Mediators can also follow ethical guidelines or codes of conduct to get a clearer understanding of how to maintain impartiality, confidentiality, and fairness during the process.


Mediators have various moral obligations when they facilitate the resolution of disputes. In addition to self-determination, they must assure impartiality, confidentiality, fairness and equity, access to information, and promote respect and civility.

Mediators who fulfill their moral obligations will improve the likelihood of disputes being resolved ethically and peacefully.

Therefore, in conducting a mediation process, the mediator should take into consideration the moral conduct expectations, which are critical in facilitating the process to an equitable, fair, and amicable resolution. Only by observing such ethical standards can mediators help dispute parties find hope in the mediation process as a means of dispute resolution.

If you want to learn more about moral obligation in regard to mediation, contact ADR Times for educational resources and training courses.


ADR Times
error: ADR Times content is protected.