Professional Mediation Worldwide: Promoting Consensus and Access to Justice


1. Set and achieve high mediation standards

IMI via Task Forces collaborates to create standards for mediation worldwide. IMI’s independent Appraisal Committee then recognises ‘Qualifying Assessment Programs’, which in turn certify Mediators and Mediation Advocates against these established standards, enhancing the practice of mediation and thereby improving consensus and access to justice.

2. Convene stakeholders and parties

Through initiatives such as the Global Pound Conference Series and ongoing Global Pound Conversation, IMI has gathered data generated by stakeholders and parties which is being used to improve mediation practice and implementation around the globe.  See also IMI’s ‘Initiatives‘.

3. Promote understanding and adoption of mediation

IMI works together with national and international bodies to promote understanding of and adoption of mediation.  See our ‘Initiatives’ section.

4. Disseminate skills for parties, counsel and mediators

Members of IMI’s working Board provide ad hoc skills training for mediation stakeholders. IMI’s Training and Assessment Task Force has established standards for skills training in this area.

IMI is the only organisation in the world to adopt an international Vision and Mission for mediation. IMI is a non-profit charity registered in The Hague, supported practically and financially by corporate users and by a group comprising the main international ADR service providers. IMI aims to address the needs of all stakeholders, starting with users—i.e. disputants. This requires also understanding the interests of the other players in the dispute resolution field—mediators, conciliators, law firms and others that advise users, adjudicators such as judges and arbitrators, service-providing organisations, trainers and educators, and policy-makers. IMI does not compete with any other body because it does not sell any product and provides no billable services. The organisation is funded entirely by donations (see ‘Funding‘ and ‘Charity Status‘).

Setting Mediation Standards Globally

Quality is critical if mediation is to grow and be used by disputants. Mediation is not a recognised independent profession in any country of the world, meaning virtually anybody can call themselves a ‘mediator’.* IMI has set out to change that through the transparent establishement of high competency standards that enable users to know that when they select a mediator, they are procuring the services of a quality professional who has the skills to assist them in resolving their dispute.  (See ‘Competency Criteria‘ for an overview.)

IMI’s quality standards are established and maintained by independent international taskforces, including users, highly-experienced mediators, leading judges, providers, trainers and educators from countries around the world. The standards are applied in practice by service provider organisations that are approved by the Appraisal Committee to run ‘Qualifying Assessment Programs’ (QAPs). QAPs then assess and qualify experienced and competent mediators for IMI Certification. There are currently over 550 IMI Certified Mediators in 45 countries. All members of IMI’s Committees and Taskforces, and all approved programs, are listed on the IMI website.

Through requiring an independently-collated ‘Feedback Digest’ as part of all IMI Certified profiles, a given mediator’s ongoing competency is assessed and validated by the community they serve.

IMI Factsheet

The Future

Mediation has come a long way since the Pound Conference in 1976, but still has much further to go. Mediation must develop into a widely-recognised, independent profession, in order to be accepted as the preferred and automatic way to resolve disputes when negotiations fail. This means that a single set of high-level competency and practice standards need to be adopted around the world.

Mediation needs to be far better promoted if it is to be far better understood and accepted. It begins with competency standards but does not end there. Mediated settlements need to be internationally enforceable, like arbitral awards. Governments need to use mediation as the primary way to resolve disputes. Users need to see the value of using mediators to make deals. Providers need to be more transparent and to come together to expand the use of mediation.

IMI sets out to achieve all these things and more. It needs everyone in the dispute resolution field to support this Vision and this Mission.

* A recent exception is Ireland’s Mediation Act 2017, which calls for a Mediation Council that maintains a mediator registry of mediators meeting training and standards set by that Council. This Council is anticipated to be in place by the end of 2021.

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