Dear Members of the IMI Community,
The year 2016 started with several important initiatives moving forward during this first quarter. On February 1-5, UNCITRAL’s Working Group II held its 64th Session on Arbitration and Conciliation in New York City. Many questions were raised about what a proposed Convention on the Enforcement of Mediation Settlements would look like moving the issue forward. On March 17-18, the first Global Pound Series event will be held in Singapore. Finally, IMI’s Biennial survey continues to gather more information on expectations of the IMI Community for mediation. Here’s a summary of the three activities and how you can be part of these important initiatives.
IMI was represented at UNCITRAL’s Working Group II by Hal Abramson, Kim Taylor, Bruce Whitney and myself.
In addition, the Florence International Mediation Center was represented by Laura Kaster, Janet Martinez, and David Weiss.
IMI arranged for a presentation by Prof. Hal Abramson from Touro Law School in the U.S. and Prof. Jan Martinez from Stanford Law School in the U.S. The presentation was delivered to delegates to describe nuances between mediation, conciliation and arbitration. Subsequent to the presentation there ensued a vigorous dialogue on thorny issues and concerns that pointed out the differences in the practices in the field of mediation globally. Clearly questions were asked, not necessarily to educate those present but to help them frame answers for people back home who will implement whatever instrument is ultimately approved.
During the majority of Working Group’s deliberations delegates proposed and critiqued in detail the language of a proposed instrument. Some of the proposed language was based on experience in arbitration but other proposals were intended to address problems that might arise in the future, even though the likelihood of the event occurring in mediation is slim to none.
In the end I believe, the discourse was healthy and will move us closer to resolution. We still have difficult issues to address including how and whether to conform a new instrument to existing treaties; whether potential parties should be allowed to opt in or opt out of the instrument; what formalities should be required such as the mediator signing the settlement agreement; and the potential differences in outlook between civil and common law countries.
The next UNCITRAL Working Group meeting will be held in September 2016 in Vienna. What will we do between now and then to advance the ball? First, we have a Task Force led by David Weiss, Director of the School of Business Institute for Dispute Resolution at the New Jersey City University, developing a survey to gather additional intelligence about user preferences for consideration by Working Group II delegates. Feedback received in February will be used to strengthen the questions included in the survey that will be launched in April. Second, we need to identify members of the IMI community who will be resources to the individual member state delegations so that education about mediation and how to implement a proposed instrument is ongoing and not just at Working Group meetings.
I will keep you apprised of activities but please send me an e-mail with your ideas on how we can move forward. For more information about the deliberations in February and the Agenda for September, please go to http://www.uncitral.org/uncitral/en/commission/working_groups/2Arbitration.html
The other exciting initiative is the first Global Pound Conference (GPC) event scheduled for Singapore on March 17-18. For information about the event and other events close to your location go to http://globalpoundconference.org/
We now have more than 38 events scheduled over the next 18 months across 29 countries worldwide. The events will host more than 5,000 people bringing together stakeholders from the user, academic, advisor and provider communities. The information gathered will inform the future direction of dispute management and resolution processes. The information also will be an unprecedented exchange of information about how dispute management and resolution is approached locally across the world bringing the field closer to common principles and understanding.
Join us at one of the events and encourage users to attend and be part of the conversation.
Finally, the Biennial Census Survey is still ongoing with almost 700 responses received so far. Responses span North America (35%), Europe (33%), Asia (14%), Africa (5%), Australia/New Zealand (5%), Latin America (4%), and the Middle East (1%). I would like to thank those of you who have already responded and encourage those who have not yet done so and their colleagues to please do so. The results of this survey will help to frame what scant information exists so far on stakeholder views regarding ADR