Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods, particularly mediation and arbitration, have proven to be essential tools in the prevention and settlement of dispute without the formalities, delay, expense and vexation of ordinary litigation. In the next two weeks, two conferences regarding the matter will take place. The first, in Rome (this weekend) by MEDA ADR, a European Union-sponsored program. The second will take place here, in Jerusalem, by the World Mediation Forum. I have the privilege of being involved in both.
MEDA ADR (Rome)
In 2005, the European Commission sponsored a three-year project dedicated to facilitating foreign investment and international trade across the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean through the promotion of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in the 10 MEDA countries (Israel, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and West Bank & Gaza). As the concluding event of this project, a final conference will convene in Rome, Italy, this weekend (September 28 and 29). Representatives from the 27 EU member states will participate alongside representatives from the 10 MEDA countries. Israel will be represented by District Judge (Tel Aviv) Michal Rubinstein and Tel Aviv lawyer Shai Porat.
The project was designed particularly to assist small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the backbone of most MEDA country economies, to develop greater skill and ease in dealing with counterparts in other countries. Therefore, the project worked primarily with bar associations, jurists, local arbitration and other ADR groups, chambers of commerce, federations of industry, trade promotion agencies, and other organizations relied upon by SMEs for advice and related services.
The trainings on international contracts and dispute resolution were aimed at creating a group of highly specialized mediators and arbitrators who will increase the availability of specialized services. The intensive training workshop Training for International Commercial Mediators and Arbitrators were geared toward local business lawyers of the MEDA countries.
The first of the intensive training sessions, Training for International Commercial Mediators and Arbitrators, was for Turkish and Israeli participants and was held at the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, September 26-29, 2006. The promotion for this advanced ADR training was very successful: more than 100 Turkish and Israeli professionals applied for the course. After a review procedure based upon criteria fixed by the European Commission, 15 Turkish and seven Israeli lawyers were invited to participate. It was an honor for me to be selected as one of the Israeli participants in the course.
The course in Turkey was divided into two modules. The first training days were dedicated to the study and practical exercise of mediation and were conducted by Prof. Giuseppe De Palo (President of ADR Center and Project Team Leader) and Ms. Manon Schonewille (President of ACB Mediation, the Netherlands). On the last day, Mr. Dominic Spenser Underhill (International Commercial Arbitration specialist, London, England) offered the participants an analysis of the most significant aspects of international commercial arbitration.
It was during this training that I realized how Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), and particularly mediation and arbitration, has proven effective in preventing and settling international commercial disputes. Arbitration and mediation, however, do not appear to be widely used in the MEDA Countries. We were told that the project is designed to improve understanding of ADR, to instill confidence and capacity in managing commercial dispute resolution, and to facilitate international trade and foreign investment in the 10 MEDA countries targeted by the project. These countries are dependent on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to develop their economies; for trade and investment, the consequences of not having sound ADR systems in place are severe.
The European Union's expectation is that, upon completion of project activities, a more solid mediation and arbitration infrastructure will be operational in the MEDA Region, enabling foreign businesses and legal counsel to more readily employ ADR, fostering valuable trade and investment.
For more information regarding the MEDA program or the conference in Rome please visit the MEDA Web site at:
World Mediation Forum (Jerusalem)
The 2007 conference of the World Mediation Forum (WMF) to be held in Jerusalem in two week (October 9-11) is intended to bring together mediators and professionals interested in conflict management from all over the world. The WMF is a global association of people, organizations and institutions interested in interpersonal, intergroup, community, transcultural and international mediation.
The WMF was created in Dublin, Ireland, in 1993, as the result of the First International Conference on Mediation and it was formally constituted at the Assembly celebrated at the First WMF Congress at El Escorial, Spain, in 1995. Subsequent congresses were convened in Havana, Cuba, in 1998, Sardinia, Italy, in 2000, Buenos Aires, Argentina, in May 2003 (which was attended by 740 delegates from 43 countries) and in Switzerland in 2005.
The topic of the 6th World Conference is: Mediation and The Multicultural Spectrum, which seems specially tailored to take place in Israel due to the violence, diversity and intensity of conflicts in this part of the world. Various relevant professions are expected to arrive - judges, lawyers, psychologists, educators, diplomats, sociologists, criminologists; environmentalists, medical health care; practitioners and academics - as well as hundreds of Israelis with similar backgrounds.
Omri Geffen (Gevim Group), Scientific Committee Chairman and Director of the Conference, says the conference will be an opportunity to promote the objectives of the Forum, by assisting in the exchange of knowledge regarding mediation and strengthening international cooperation.
It was an honor for me that I was asked to take part in a session on October 10 at the Renaissance Hotel titled: Mandatory Mediation - Is That the Solution? The session I will will be conducted in English. The panelists will be Judge Edna Bekenstein (President of Magistrates Court, Tel Aviv), MarÃa DÃ©bora Fortuna (Ministry of Justice, CÃ²rdoba, Argentina) and myself.
For more information regarding the WMF conference in Jerusalem please visit the WMF Web site at: http://www.wmf2007.com/.
The author is head of the International Department at the Joseph Shem-Tov law firm.