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<xTITLE>The History of Mediation and Why It Is Still in Use Today</xTITLE>

The History of Mediation and Why It Is Still in Use Today

by Jakob Vinther, Thomas Todd
April 2021

Mediation is a process of conflict resolution that involves a neutral party and two conflicting parties. This neutral party is a mediator whose function is to settle the differences between the parties in conflict. To understand mediation, you must examine the reason behind having a mediator.

So, why is a mediator necessary? 

The effectiveness of a mediator depends on the willingness of both sides to reach common ground. So, a mediator’s job is not to judge but to observe and quell tensions.

Much like writing services that take the burden of writing papers off students, a mediator shares the commitment in a dispute. They dig deep and eliminate all obstructions to help the parties have a discussion devoid of confrontations. 

History of Mediation in Different Parts of the World

Mediation has been a part of human interaction that has evolved with civilization. Let us take a look at the history of mediation in several parts of the world. The information we uncover will provide a further understanding of mediation in the past and its evolution over the years. 

Mediation in the United States of America

Mediation in the United States dates back to the labor and social unrest in the early 20th century. During the turmoil, dockets usually got filled up, so the government started using courtrooms to resolve conflicts in 1970. 

As a result of how popular mediation was becoming in the United States, scholars and researchers concluded that mediation was an easy way to resolve conflict.

Mediation in (Biblical) Israel

A classic case of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in history can be traced back to Israel. In ancient Israel (around 960 B.C), King Solomon stood as a mediator between two women. The dispute is probably the most famous child custody battle in history.

In the scenario mentioned above, two women quarreled over a child’s rightful motherhood. King Solomon stepped in and offered a solution that would favor both women equally. This unbiased approach to conflict resolution makes a mediator practically indispensable in cases that get settled out of court.

Centuries later, mediators have adopted this technique to settle civil disagreements between Israeli citizens and people of other nationalities. Community mediation centers were set up to resolve the disputes with Palestine after Israel declared statehood in 1948. These conflict resolution centers play a significant role in easing political tensions between both countries.

Mediation in the Middle East

Many scholars believe that mediation dates back to ancient Sumerian society. Sumer was an ancient Mesopotamian civilization that existed from 4500-1900 B.C in what is now known as the Middle East.

Back then, the mashkim weighed the merits of every case before it appeared before the court. The mashkim also assisted quarreling parties to resolve their disagreements by themselves. This role is similar to a modern-day mediator. If the mashkim could not broker peace between two parties, the case was taken to court. 

Furthermore, the Shari’a Law also supports the role of a mediator in conflicts. The rule of thumb is that this mediator must be unbiased and have no stake in the dispute.

They should only resolve disputes by suggesting ideas and offering solutions to the disagreeing parties. The decision to accept or reject the mediator’s suggestions lies with the specific parties.

For other mediation instances in the Middle East, we consider the Prophet Muhammad’s life. Many scholars assert that during Prophet Muhammad’s early life, tribes warring over the Ka’ba reconstruction chose him as a mediator. 

The Prophet calmed the storm looming over the tribes by suggesting a solution that accommodated both parties’ interests.

Mediation in China

Confucius was a philosopher who believed that respect for one another trumped the superiority of law and its associated conflicts. During his reign (from 551 B.C. to 479 B.C.), some scholars believe that China fully supported mediation. 

The philosopher advised that the best solution to conflicts was ethical reconciliation. However, Confucius insisted that the disagreeing parties should consent to this reconciliation willingly.

Back then, mediators would meet with both parties separately and talk to them. These conflict-resolution meetings happened regularly. The mediators would also speak to others with a deeper knowledge of the dispute’s origin to ensure fairness and ultimate success. 

Due to Confucius’ profound influence on Chinese culture, mediation became the leading way to settle disputes in China for thousands of years.

The Relevance of Mediation in Modern Society

Mediation is vital in today’s society. From the workplace to communities and families, mediation helps individuals settle their differences effectively.

It affords quarreling parties a rare glimpse into each other’s viewpoints. The clarity that mediation brings is seldom present in judicial hearings.

Mediation and mediators are relevant today because of many reasons. Some of them include:

Empowerment

Mediation hands the power of decision-making back to the parties. They decide for themselves when, how, and if they would prefer to resolve a situation. The mediator is only there to guide their decisions.

The mediation aspect that encourages empowerment taps into a person’s inner desires to maintain control without giving up too much. It is also in line with individuals’ needs for freedom and worry-free lives. 

These characteristics make mediation a powerful tool for alternative dispute resolution.

Confidentiality

Mediation is more suitable for individuals who prefer to keep their affairs private — away from publicized court records.

Besides, the level of confidentiality of a dispute handled by mediators is agreed upon by the parties involved. When both parties reach an agreement to keep things private, this resolution is binding.

Ultimately, this confidentiality is not affected, even if the parties chose mediation before or after filing a lawsuit. Afterward, any form of communication stemming from mediation cannot pass as evidence in court.

The Quality of the Resolution

In many cases, participants of a mediation case are much more willing to stick with the results of the mediation than those reached in court. Moreover, the tension is also not as high as in the courtroom. 

Although going against a court order is a criminal offense, face-to-face mediation offers a more amicable resolution. 

The Speed of Settlement

Conflicts are settled by mediation considerably faster than they are resolved by litigation. In a world where time is heavily associated with money, speed is essential. The fleeting nature of ADR has ensured that it remains relevant for busy business people today. 

Court proceedings can take months and even years to resolve. And the longer it drags on, the more legal costs you incur.

These outlined reasons prove the relevance of mediation in modern society. Besides, every business and individual wants to avoid unnecessary legal costs and protracted court battles. And as a result, more people are hiring the services of experienced mediators today.

Final Words

Mediation is almost as old as conflict itself. In man’s search for a better life, disagreements will occur. The best mediators can resolve these disputes discreetly, effectively, and, most importantly, with fairness to both parties.

Mediation is a lot faster than court cases. The cost is also cheaper, and it helps the involved parties reach a suitable compromise. Conflict resolution also presents significant benefits to businesses and individuals involved in a dispute because it prioritizes their interests while leaving their issues behind.

Biography



Jakob Vinther is a recent grad student of Yale University and now a lecturer at Bristol University, UK. I do molecular paleobiology – a synoptic science, which utilizes the evolutionary history recorded in both rocks and molecules in order to understand and reliably reconstruct organismal evolution.

Thomas Todd