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Sunday Times Report: Truth Commissions and Negotiating with the Enemy

by Victoria Pynchon

From Settle It Now Negotiation Blog

Victoria Pynchon

(image from Art Throb featuring the work of South African artist William Kentridge)

Just in case you're out on the beach, in the mountains, or spending a lazy July 4th week-end around your best friends' swimming pool, here are the ADR-worthy articles you've likely missed in today's Sunday New York Times.

From the Op-Ed page, Nicholas Kristof recommends an American "Truth Commission" for our treatment of "detainees."  Excerpt and link below:

When a distinguished American military commander accuses the United States of committing war crimes in its handling of detainees, you know that we need a new way forward. 

“There is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes,” Antonio Taguba, the retired major general who investigated abuses in Iraq, declares in a powerful new report on American torture from Physicians for Human Rights. “The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.”

The first step of accountability isn’t prosecutions. Rather, we need a national Truth Commission to lead a process of soul searching and national cleansing.

That was what South Africa did after apartheid, with its Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and it is what the United States did with the Kerner Commission on race and the 1980s commission that examined the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

Today, we need a similar Truth Commission, with subpoena power, to investigate the abuses in the aftermath of 9/11.

We already know that the United States government has kept Nelson Mandela on a terrorism watch list and that the U.S. military taught interrogation techniques borrowed verbatim from records of Chinese methods used to break American prisoners in the Korean War — even though we knew that these torture techniques produced false confessions.

It’s a national disgrace that more than 100 inmates have died in American custody in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantánamo. After two Afghan inmates were beaten to death by American soldiers, the American military investigator found that one of the men’s legs had been “pulpified.”

Read the rest of the column here, remembering that we're only as sick as our secrets.  For more on Truth Commissions, click here, here and here.

"We don't negotiate with terrorists or enemy states."  Really?  In Speaking with the Enemy, an NYT multi-media page gives a sampling of how modern American Presidents have made contact with our adversaries.

Here's the good news from the accompanying article, For Some Foes the Chat.  For Some the Cold Shoulder.

[T]he reality is that more times than not, American presidents sweep into office proclaiming black-and-white absolutes about their foes, and end up leaving office having used everything from secret talks and back-channel negotiations to full-fledged summit meetings.

Read the full article here.

While others surf and bar-b-que, I'm using the week-end to post the Summer 2008 issue of the r.kv.r.y. quarterly literary journal.  Here's the proof of the new cover!  A labor of love (and proof of my husband's enduring patience -- thanks honey! for putting up with my 10,000 projects). 

Biography


Attorney-mediator Victoria Pynchon is a panelist with ADR Services, Inc. Ms. Pynchon was awarded her LL.M Degree in Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute in May of 2006, after 25 years of complex commercial litigation practice, with sub-specialties in intellectual property, securities fraud, antitrust, insurance coverage, consumer class actions and all types of business torts and contract disputes.  During her two years of full-time neutral practice, she has co-mediated both mandatory and voluntary settlement conferences with Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Alexander Williams, III and Victoria Chaney.  As a result of her work with Judge Chaney in the Complex Court at Central Civil West, Ms. Pynchon has gained significant experience mediating construction defect litigation.  Ms. Pynchon received her J.D., Order of the Coif, from the U.C. Davis School of Law. 



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Website: www.settlenow.com

Additional articles by Victoria Pynchon