Comments: Mediator As International Peacemaker?

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ana , olympia WA     01/11/07
Thank you for the reminder Victoria. I will check mwob. Dialogue is a wonderful invention. Ana Schofield

Victoria Pynchon, Los Angeles CA     01/11/07
Mediators without Borders
Join Mediators without Borders -- see the blog -- -- see the temporary web site -- -- for plans and sign-up. The skills Charles wonders whether or not we as mediators have will be provided.

charles  parselle, woodland hills ca     01/10/07
comment of ana schofield's comment
Brilliant comment and exactly what I hoped would happen in the form of the commencement of a dialogue around this truly difficult subject. I don't have the time currently to attempt a draft of something different. However, as to the original draft that I found so problematic, I think it didn't really identify its audience. It's useless to send out an appeal 'to all the world's leaders.' I agree with Jim that less is more, even though I was ungenerously overcritical of his particular 'less,' but I do think that less is more in terms of identifying an audience. In other words, specific words work for specific audiences. I am still at the point of wondering whether mediators are specially even qualified (other than as ordinary citizens) to address this area. I'm not sure we have even identified the skill sets we could bring to bear on situations in which, as I wrote previously, all parties have death on their minds.

charles  parselle, woodland hills ca   01/10/07
comment of vickie's comment
I do agree with you, Vickie, wishing for peace on earth is a good place to start. Also an easy place to start. It's like living at the bottom of the mountain, or in poverty and ignorance, and wishing to be at the top - it's the uphill claim that can be gruesomely hard and that is why so many people stay where they are. In fact, that is why so many mediators continue to put up with the pro bono mediation system that has mediators paying for other people's mediations even when those people have expensive lawyers by their sides.

ana schofield, olympia WA     01/10/07
No kisses for the devil who wraps his words in bullets.
Hello Charles, Have you considered re-writing the mediator statement from your depth of perception and knowledge of intepreting language? I would like to read it, if you do. I am a simple Northern English woman, born during world war 11; now a neophite mediator who cares deeply about the state of the world. I was so delighted to read that mediators were banding together to urge world leaders to negotiate, I sent the news clip from Bill Lincoln out to friends around the globe as a symbol of hope for 2007. In response to your 7 point concern about the wording in the mediator statement, I share the following: #1. Why now? Thank goodness mediators are organizing as warriors without weapons in a world gone mad! #2.Up-rooting deep conflicts of real and perceived threats may kill the roots when all sides are fed up with bloodshed and/or women refuse love to the men who fight, or support fighting as a means to resolve conflicts. #3.Honesty? Why not ask for it? No harm in trying, even if honesty is not enforceable. Requesting honesty from all sides as a good faith gesture during the ground rule setting of a pre mediation/negotiation agreement, may not harm surely! As a movement analyst as well as a mediator, I watch body language and voice tone during mediations. When I see or hear incongruency I call the shots, usually in caucus so not to shame. I refer to the good faith agreement about honesty. It usually works. #4. Unconditional? This reminds me of the unconditional love jargen that makes my toes curl. What happened to adaptation and mutation? #5. All Present? Absolutely, to help resolve a pending or actual crisis. #6. Equitability: an ideal outcome, IS a lofty notion I agree. If willing to come to the table, the party's decide what is equitable. Best we mediators remember that we are facilitators of a process not preconceivers of an outcome. It must be challenging for lawyers to shift gears from being directive and wanting their client to win, to becoming accomodating to a process that goes beyond them. #7. To Assume is to Imagine: A citizen of the world implies a connection without boundaries. Conjecture is the spice of life. Without it we disconnect and our imagination dries up! I appreciate your sharing and being at Oxford way back, as I was (in not at) for a time. Ana Schofield

Victoria , Los Angeles CA     01/09/07
Peace on Earth
I'm actually a fan of wishing for peace on earth. There are those who do not wish for it. And since actions generally follow intentions (I wish to lose weight, therefore I will begin dieting, etc.) this is a good place to start. I believe action will follow this year. Updates at Mediators without Borders on, today reporting on the Mississippi Mediation Project that, though not an MWOB project, is the type of project I understand MWOB will be supporting, initiating and following through. Leaning toward the light, Vickie

charles parselle, Woodland Hillss ca     01/08/07
Here is your suggestion, Jim: "We encourage competent negotiations between nations, organizations and groups and the use of mediation assistance when helpful." My thought as you invited is that this is a so bland (except for the loaded word 'competent') as not to take us anywhere. It's like wishing for peace on earth.

Victoria Pynchon, Los Angeles CA     12/18/06
Thoughtful as always Charles. See comments and links to L.A. Times op-ed pieces on the Iraq Study Group's recommendation that we negotiate at Cheers for a great holiday season and peaceful new year!

Maria Joseph, Leicester MA     12/15/06
True Neutrality
Charles, I am glad that you have raised these questions. One thing that true neutrals must accept is that, for some, conflict is a way of life; that dominance and submission may be part of a longstanding political and social culture; and that, though these may be foreign or antithetical to western ideals, they must be understood at least, and respected at best, lest we add to the dissension. When our lifestyles conflict with or are threatened by (even if not imminently) these others, we must recognize that "we" alone (westerners, in this example) may perceive an unwanted conflict, that "we" alone may wish to resolve it, that "we" alone cannot define the resolution process, and that we must recognize others' different negotiation standards and expectations. As a first step in satisfying our own interests of peace, before we speak up and insist on the broader use of mediation, wouldn't the conflict resolution process be better served (and received) if we start with sharing our understanding of what makes it work in the first place? We ought to enter this arena with the benefit of what we know to be effective: Asking questions that seek a fundamental understanding of the participants and the interests involved --acknowledging these in the context of respective perceptions. In doing so, we may convincingly demonstrate the very approach we espouse be employed.

Jim Melamed, Eugene OR   12/11/06
Applaud External Focus - Refine Message

Thanks for your fine article.

I agree with most of your points and with the idea of our continuing to refine the messages we as a field put out.

Still, despite the imperfections, I think it worthy of recognizing mediators for "getting involved." Now let's get about refining the message.

For me, it is something like:

"We encourage competent negotiations between nations, organizations and groups and the use of mediation assistance when helpful."

Less is more?

Any thoughts?

Intriguing, I think, is that mediators are now speaking up in the political and media spheres, including running for office.

I am pleased by the energy and hope that all will join in refining and extending our messages and efforts.

Importantly, we should take note of this suggestion from the Final Keystone Conference Report:

"Although much has been accomplished over the last three decades, those with seniority in the field have been much too tentative and introspective. To have greater impact, the next generation must look for new ways to engage the popular and political cultures and the private, public, and civic sector clients we work with."

It is this bigger message, I believe, that we should pay attention to, carrying the message of capable problem-solving and durable solutions to the world.

So, while I agree we need to refine our "pitch," I do applaud all for being involved and energized.

Jim Melamed