Michael Leathes, The Hague NL 10/19/12
I agree that quasi-Government involvement may be appropriate in some countries. As mentioned in the article, the National ADR Advisory Council in Australia (NADRAC) is an example of such a body; it has set (basic) national standards for mediators, is funded by the Attorney General's Dept and its governing Council is drawn from experts in various stakeholder groups.
But in my view a mediation standard-setting body need not necessarily have direct government involvement (even though a funding contribution from Government certainly helps establish credibility). Clearly, any professional standard-setting and credentialing institution, whether Government-funded or not, must be non-profit, independent from the marketplace (i.e. not provide any services), be free from domination by individual sector interests, have real credibility and reflect all stakeholder needs, including users, individual practitioners, providers, educators & trainers, adjudicators. It should have an open code of ethics linked to a disciplinary process, and it should promote mediation and provide objective information, tools and materials about mediation without cost.
Many other professional bodies are successfully run this way around the world without government participating in the way they are run.
Rick , Windsor On 10/19/12
Future of ADR
Michael, read your article with interest and while I agree with the need for central accreditation, doubt this issue will be resolved by the various mediation organizations mentioned due to their self interests who look at the process as another source of revenue generation.
While I would whole-heartedly support a central accrediation for the profession, I do believe a quasi-government involvement will be needed to provide that arms-length relationship and provide what is really been sought by all- credibility.
My observation of the current accreditation processes that are available reveal organizations that while trying to fill the need for stakeholder accountability, negate that concern for credibility through the need for exhorborant accreditation fees, ongoing annual fees for accrediation, which oddly enough, is offered by the same organization creating the perception that it is trying to sustain itself through the use of these perpetual accrediation and maintainence provisions.
Society doesn't seem to have an issue with the various government or quasi-governing bodies that create and administer accrediation processes that regulate doctors, teachers, airline pilots, dentists, etc., so why should the mediation community?
A quasi government/private partnership that doesn't have a vested interest in the perpetual revenue stream that currently exits within the mediation process is a starting point to resolve this issue that has followed this career path since its inception.
Gary , San Francisco CA 10/17/12
Thanks for pointing me at that section. My view is that we need to be a whole lot more specific about what it is we need to do our research on. We have been repeating the same statistical data gathering about attitudes towards mediation, satisfaction rates, settlement rates etc. for too long and have done woefully little research on mediator behavior. And, to me, this is the whole game. What we teach mediators to actually do right now is based on a hollow core of beliefs and assumptions and, at best, extrapolations from research in other fields. We need a real empirical base of knowledge about mediator behavior and how those behavior effect change in decision making or not.
Michael Leathes, The Hague NL 10/16/12
Response to Gary Weiner
Gary: thank you. I agree research and statistics are important on many aspects of the field, but I included this as point 4 in the 10 proposed Action Steps. Michael
Gary Weiner, San Francisco CA 10/16/12
I read this piece with interest and with a bit of chagrin. I am chagrined because the Mr. Leathes mentions not a word about the need for empirical research on just what constitutes skillful mediation. We as a field have failed to reliably demonstrate that the things we teach and, where it is done, assess, actually "work" to achieve whatever goal the parties or the system in which mediation takes place. We will never be able to move forward with the kind of clarity I agree we should have until we have a solid body of knowledge about what mediators ought to actually be doing that doesn't arise out of beliefs and assumptions born of a very specific world view and philosophy that takes "Getting to Yes" as the gospel.