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On August 22, the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) Board of Directors unanimously adopted the 2005 revisions to the Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators. These revisions reflect the work of a joint committee of two representatives each from ACR (Terry Wheeler and Sharon Press), the American Arbitration Association (Eric Tuchman and John Wilkinson) and the Section of Dispute Resolution of the American Bar Association (Wayne Thorpe and Susan Yates) along with Reporter, Joseph Stulberg.
The Model Standards are designed to serve as fundamental ethical guidelines for persons mediating in all practice contexts. They continue to serve three primary goals: to guide the conduct of mediators; to inform the mediating parties; and to promote public confidence in mediation as a process for resolving disputes. Sharon Press said, “This is a very important step for the conflict resolution field. These Model Standards provide vital guidance for practitioners and thus help define appropriate mediation practice. Our members look to us for guidance and with this document, we have provided a clear sense of direction to practitioners, our association, and the field.”
The Model Standards were originally adopted in 1994 by the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution, the AAA, and the Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution (or SPIDR, which merged with two other organizations in 2001 to form ACR). As noted in the Reporter’s Notes that accompany the 2005 Model Standards, the 1994 version has successfully performed these goals as evidenced by their adoption by various state programs and the multiple educational texts which reference the Model Standards in their discussion of ethical norms for mediators.
In September 2002, representatives from the original participating organizations began their review. The 2005 version reflects some changes in format, most notably, in that the 2005 version eliminated the distinction between “standards” and “comments,” opting instead to address the guidance to mediators as those activities or behaviors which are required and those which are permissive.
Terry Wheeler said, “The adoption of these Model Standards by ACR’s Board of Directors signifies a major accomplishment for our professional association. Over the last several years, we have cooperated closely with key colleague organizations to enhance the field. Now, as we roll out the new Model Standards, we celebrate that accomplishment and look forward to further field shaping initiatives.”
The Model Standards contain guidance for mediators relating to self-determination; impartiality; conflicts of interest; competence; confidentiality; quality of process; advertising and solicitation; fees and other charges; and advancement of mediation practice. The ABA House of Delegates approved the Model Standards on August 9, 2005 and the Board of Directors of the American Arbitration Association will soon consider approval of the 2005 Model Standards.
Based in Washington, D.C., the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) is a professional organization dedicated to enhancing the practice and public understanding of conflict resolution. ACR represents and serves a diverse national and international audience that includes more than 6,000 mediators, arbitrators, facilitators, educators and others involved in the field of conflict resolution and collaborative decision-making. Anyone interested in the field of conflict resolution is welcome to join.
Model Standards of Conduct
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