Art of mediation on rise in Russia (Part II)
continued from Part I
RAPSI: The Russian Education and Science Ministry has endorsed a mediator training program. Is it a sign of interest in the profession? Will the new profession be popular not only among lawyers? Can it become an independent profession?
A.: Interest in the profession had existed even before the program was endorsed, but, of course, it is kind of a clarifying moment for those who want to devote themselves to the profession, because it sets the main criteria, the standards of skills and factual knowledge a professional mediator should have and suggests targets for further improvement. It also creates conditions for forming a qualified teaching staff for training mediators.
From the very beginning, there were not only lawyers who wanted to receive a mediator’s qualification. And the trend sustains. Today, alongside representatives of professions that are traditional for mediation – lawyers, psychologists and social workers – we have managers and engineers coming to study. Over time, mediation can become an independent, formally recognized profession.
RAPSI.: Can the mediator training program become the platform for setting up a self-regulating organization in the sphere? How do you plan to follow the lives of those who complete studies at your center?
A.: Completing the mediator training program is one of the conditions for joining a professional organization. So it indeed contributes to the setup of self-regulating organizations in Russia. As to our graduates, we keep in contact with them. Many continue improving their professional skills at the course “Mediation. Peculiarities of Use” and those who want to teach mediation in future are coming to our teachers’ course. Our students continue cooperating with the Center for Mediation and Law, because it is a source of information and a resource for their further professional development. Some of our graduates are active in regions, setting up regional representative offices and branches. Our graduates definitely form the foundation of the cohort of professional mediators in Russia.
RAPSI.: How will the setup of the non-profit partnership National Organization of Mediators, NOM, influence mediation? What will it give to ordinary clients and to mediators themselves?
A.: First of all, the setup of the NOM is a step towards a self-regulating organization, which is very important for further promotion of the institution of mediation. This will help mediators to keep in contact with each other and to have a constructive dialog with the outside world, first of all, with government structures. All these efforts seek to ensure that mediation is understood, attractive and used by our citizens.
One of the key traits of mediation is its orientation towards the individual needs of the parties in a dispute or conflict. It is very important that mediation services should be provided professionally, that the quality of work of Russian mediators and mediation organizations should help to raise trust in the new institution on the part of people and companies, for whom use of mediation should gradually become a norm. Clients of mediation should have an opportunity to see the advantage of this method not only for settling conflicts, but also for preventing disputes from growing into a conflict. One of the NOM’s goals is to create conditions for setting clear and transparent targets that will allow a potential client, presuming reliability of information, to choose a suitable provider of mediation services or an individual mediator.
RAPSI: How can the NOM’s founders help it?
A.: The setup of the NOM was initiated by the Association of Russian Lawyers, the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs and the Research Center for Mediation and Law, a leading organization in the sphere of mediation and alternative dispute settlement. First of all, the respected founders of the NOM should adopt a proactive attitude for using and popularizing mediation within their community and, naturally, assist its implementation and development in the society in general.
RAPSI.: Do businessmen show interest in mediation?
A.: Businessmen are gradually showing more and more interest in mediation. This is natural, since mediation gives them an opportunity to reduce dependence on corruptive practices, which are still one of the main barriers for free entrepreneurship development in Russia. Those who want to do business in a civilized way will gradually start using mediation more often.
Mediation allows finding feasible solutions in complex disputes oriented towards the real interests of the parties. Simultaneously, it offers flexibility and minimizes reputation risks. Business sees mediation not only as a way to settle disputes, but also as an efficient mechanism to prevent them.
This is why our center has developed a new product based on mediation, a complex integrated mediating approach, which allows creating a system to prevent and timely settle disputes and conflicts within an organization or a company.