Association for Conflict Resolution's Blog

Mediators Beyond Borders: An Invitation to Mediators to Join and Participate

Posted in Uncategorized by Association for Conflict Resolution on May 27, 2010

An informal Q&A session for mediators interested in learning about Mediators Beyond Borders, facilitated by MBB board members.

For additional information, and to join, go to:

www.mediatorsbeyondborders.org

MBB invites all those involved in conflict resolution, not just officially designated “mediators,” to join.

MBB’s major purpose is capacity-building in troubled places with grassroots groups that want to build capacity for conflict resolution and peace-building. “We’re invited to go where there are no resources for mediators.”

There are now MBB projects in Israel, Colombia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, and many other areas.

MBB is not the “hero” parachuting in to be the big mediators. Instead, MBB does research on the culture, assembles a travel team with appropriate skills and comes into situations with humility, listening, trying to understand what’s going on – and determine if MBB is the right group to help.

MBB makes a 3- to 5-year commitment as volunteers to work collaboratively to help build appropriate conflict resolution capacity.  MBB does not assume that western styles of mediation translate to other cultures.

“This is a very, very exciting opportunity to spread a culture of conflict resolution and peace-building around the world.”

MBB is neutral, in terms of position, but it does advocate for use of the mediation process. That’s the limit of advocacy; MBB advocates for including the mediation process, where it’s appropriate to do so.

With 300-plus members, it’s important to note that even those who cannot travel to regions where projects are under way, there is ample opportunity to contribute from home, providing background research, committee service, and other forms of assisstance. One project that’s benefiting from this kind of support is the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, where MBB volunteers have been engaged.

The purpose there is to get the use of mediation into the UN’s climate change protocol documents. (At no point would MBB engage in direct negotiation on climate change issues—despite the reality of real-time disputes in this area.)

As one board member noted, this is a great opportunity to collaborate with some of the finest mediators in the world, and meet new challenges.

MBB hopes to grow and in fact, the UK is launching a chapter drawing from England, Scotland, and Wales. They’re contemplating hosting an MBB conference in the UK and developing a local project as a starting point. “This is an exciting group and we’re looking to move ahead.”

Italy also has an MBB chapter, and Brazil is developing one as well.

So wherever you’re from—you can join an existing chapter, form one in your home country, and plug in at any level. Or simply become a member.

The goal is for MBB to become a truly representational international organization. And MBB hopes one day to have funds to sponsor the travel that enables mediators to engage directly in in-country projects.

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