Los Mediadores de Cerca. María Fuertes entrevista a Kevin Brown desde Canadá
Following the 2016 World Mediation Summit, which was recently held in Madrid, Spain, Kevin Brown joins us at A Mediar to talk to María Fuertes about the art and science of mediation, and to comment on the highlights of the latest edition of this increasingly well-known international meeting.
Kevin Brown is a conflict resolution specialist fully approved and certified by The International Mediation Institute (IMI) to provide Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services to local and international clients.
His background includes; a Masters degree in International Conflict Analysis and Management with Royal Roads University, Canada; at the time of this writing, he is a PhD candidate studying towards his doctorate in International Diplomacy, Mediation and Conflict Resolution. He has 25+ years experience in peace-building as an ombud/mediator, designer of ADR training programs, over 6000 hours facilitating ADR training programs and extensive experience with individual and organizational conflict assessments.
He is honoured to be included on the Roster of Experts with UNDP and CANADEM for mediation and ADR facilitation as well as political transitions.
Nota: al final de la entrevista se encuentra el enlace de la traducción.
— María Fuertes (@madeinLeon) 26 de abril de 2016
In 2010 I established my company, Mediation International (www.mediationinternational.eu) and, as President I have witnessed tremendous growth in ADR related fields. Mediation International is now operating globally and offers a full range of ADR services, including mediation, ODR and cultural-negotiation training throughout Europe and elsewhere.
Mediation International offers a wide range of mediation courses for new and advanced mediators. The advanced mediation courses, designed for experienced mediators, psychologists, social workers and lawyers with experience in mediation qualifies graduates for IMI’s international certification.
Mediation International has the distinction of being one of the few organizations across the globe approved as a Qualifying Assessment Program (QAP) for IMI certification.
I am the Executive Organizer for the Annual World Mediation Summit (www.worldmediationsummit.com) held in Madrid which brings together some of the greatest visionary minds in the fields of mediation including Ambassadors, diplomats, judges, international lawyers and mediators as well as other mediation experts from across the globe to network, share experiences, interact and learn from each other.
I have significant experience in mediation, negotiation and leadership support, working on international multicultural conflicts in Afghanistan, Thailand, Rwanda, Georgia, Germany, Belgium, Romania, Spain, Ukraine and Canada conducting mediations, conflict resolution and cultural diversity training, systemic investigations as well as monitoring and evaluation (M&E) interventions.
From 2002-2011, I worked as a civilian Senior ADR Specialist with the Canadian government (Department of National Defence, DND) and have conducted well over 500 mediations, 700 ADR consultations; provided conflict coaching, group needs workplace assessments, group interventions, presentations to over 3000 military and civilian personnel and trained over 2000 persons in Resolving Conflict Effectively (RCE) and Conflict Management for Leaders (CML). I have also mentored dozens of mediators.
I provided training at the cultural awareness programs offered to the Canadian Military Peace Support Training Centre (PSTC). I led the ADR component of the Joint Inter-Agency Multi-National Public (JIMP) program which designed a methodology to assist in the building of trust and interpersonal conflict management skills in situations where NGO’s, Gov’t and military are required to work together to achieve similar objectives. I developed ADR training programs for a G-20 Summit similar to the training provided to the RCMP, Heritage Canada and Military for the 2010 Olympics.
I co-developed the syllabus for the national ADR training program, currently utilized at all military bases across Canada. My work at DND was pivotal to the evolution of their ADR training courses. In 2006 I wrote, produced, directed and narrated two Conflict Management DVD’s which continue to be viewed nationally by DND members and employees in their RCE and CML courses.
Prior to DND I was self-employed as a mediator conducting family as well as civil, commercial and criminal mediations as a roster mediator with the Ontario courts. Additionally, I performed community, workplace and family mediations through KBBMED and Enterprise Mediation inc. while providing pro bono mediations for a diversion program with the Ottawa Criminal Court for youth and first time offenders.
I consider myself a student for life, having graduated with an Honours Masters degree at Royal Roads University in Canada (International Conflict Analysis and Management). I am now a PhD Candidate studying International diplomacy, mediation and conflict resolution. Additionally, my love for the ADR field compelled me to complete thousands of hours of professional training regarding ombudsing and mediation; conflict prevention and resolution; Monitoring and Evaluation; Non Violent Communication; Peace support operations; multiculturalism; international dialogue; diagnostic and conflict management assessment; compassion fatigue; designing peacebuilding programmes; and more.
Entrevista a Kevin Brown, organizador ejecutivo del World Mediation Summit
Diario Mediación Youtube
What particularly attracted you to become a mediator?
In one form or another, I have been interested in mediation for the greater part of my life.
It became obvious to me that most people don’t always want someone else to fix their problems and occasionally only want someone to listen to them. I came to realize, acting as a sounding board for work colleagues and friends, that listening is a much harder comunication skill to learn than talking is.
I seemed to be the ‘go-to guy’ when friends or colleagues wanted help with a problem. I listened to them and helped them to self reflect on the problem guiding them from blame to contribution.
I believe that the vast majority of people know what they need to do to resolve their conflict, they just need to talk it through to bring the answer to a conscious level. They occasionally need assistance refocussing on their true needs as opposed to their positions.
What skill would you say is the imperative skill to be a mediator?
There are many skills required of a mediator including;
- Active listening
- Maintaining confidentiality
- Self awareness
- Sense of humour
- Ability to recognize potential or actual conflicts of interest
- and others.
In my opinion, the ability to be an active listener is likely the most important skill to have as a mediator. A mediator is required to actively listen to all the parties in order to recognize underlying needs and interests and to assist the parties towards a resolution of their conflict(s).
Often times when we think we are listening to another person, we are actually ‘listening with the brain engaged to respond’. We are waiting for a pause in order to interject our opinion—this is not active listening. In this case, the ‘listener’ is absorbing some of the information yet is more focussed on themselves rather than on the speaker. Understanding the difference between ‘listening’ and ‘active listening’ is a difficult task to master.
What challenges do you think mediation needs to address in Spain? How is the situation compared with Europe and North America?
Were I to compare the current state of affairs of mediation in Spain to my mediation roots in Canada, I would suggest that there is a twenty year gap between the development and usage of mediation tools here and there. This does not suggest that Canada is twenty years ahead of Spain, but rather, that the introduction, use and promotion of mediation differs considerably between the two countries.
I see on a daily basis, the general population in Spain becoming more and more aware of mediation in all its forms and would wager that in the near future, there will be even further advances in Spain regarding mediation and all its benefits.
In Canada, USA, Australia and many European countries, mediation has been in place and widely accepted by the population. It has been used as an alternative to the justice system and as an adjunct.
Even though mediation has been utilized in Spain for some time now, I believe it is still in its infancy and has a long way to grow before it becomes mainstream with the public, lawyers and the justice system.
The major challenges mediation faced over the years included a lack of support from the legal profession, justice and the media.
In Canada, once the lawyers recognized the advantages of mediation over litigation and the department of justice began promoting mediation as an alternative of the courts. The media began promoting the use of mediation and the public began to accept mediation as a valuable method of resolving conflicts in a timely and cost effective manner.
The public began to realize that a judge or adjudicator was not necessary to decide the fate of the conflicting parties and they realized that they could retain the decision making power and, together with the other party in conflict, come to a mutually agreeable solution.
What do you think is the best way to bring mediation to civil society?
I believe that for mediation to become mainstream in Spain, we must work together in its promotion and use. Lawyers, mediators, psychologists, social workers, diplomats and other mediation advocates must jointly show the advantages of mediation and not build walls amongst ourselves. Bridges need to be constructed amongst the professionals and we should work together to build our profession.
The World Mediation Summit helps promote mediation, the city of Madrid put up more than 100 WMS flags on Calle Ortega y Gasset and promoted the WMS widely on their social networks and publications. AMM also extensively promoted the Summit on their social networks as did IDM and their associations. Other collaborators spread the word to their ADR related colleagues both in Spain and outside. It is this type of promotion that will help bring mediation into the spotlight however we need more organizations recognizing and talking about the benefits of mediation here in Spain, across Europe and internationally.
Nowadays which issue would you like to mediate? Why? Is there one case that you have been involved that really stands out for you?
I have worked in many fields of mediation including family, community, civil and comercial, the courts, criminal, workplace and international.
I have found working in each field of mediation taught me something and I must confess that every field was a wonderful experience for me and I would never change the past.
Currently, I am enjoying international mediation, whether it be international companies with employees working around the world in different cultures experiencing conflict or be it communities and countries that have experienced conflict and are now attempting to peace-build. Training people world-wide in conflict resolution and cultural diversity skills is a proactive way of preventing and resolving conflicts and we have seen tremendous results in this area.
I recall a mediation I did with an international company that had American employees working in the UK. Both groups of employees were working well together for 6 months and then everything broke down and they refused to work together anyore. I was asked to help resolve the situation.
I met first with the UK team and they explained that they didn’t trust the Americans anymore because they constantly broke their word. I asked many interest based questions and it became clear that the UK employees didn’t trust the Americans because everytime both sides agreed to ‘take an issue off the table’ the Americans ignored the issue and wouldn’t talk about it.
When I spoke to the American team, I asked them about the ‘taking it off the table’ issue and they too agreed that this was the big problem, because as soon as they agreed with the UK team to take something off the table, the UK team continued to talk about it and wouldn’t stop. The American team considered this to be very frustrating and counter productive.
I brought the groups together and asked them both what ‘taking something off the table’ meant to them. One group said that it meant not talking about it and the other group said it meant dealing with it now.
A simple cultural misunderstanding yet this difference created a huge conflict because neither side asked the important questions needed for clarification….Quickest mediation I have ever been involved in!
I also focus my attention on emerging mediation fields such as medical as I see a great deal of growth potential here.
Do you think mediation and other ADR systems are a way to impart justice?
I see mediation as a form of ADR and as a part of the justice system. I no longer necessarily see mediation as an alternative but as a method of conflict resolution within the justice system. Mediation is a way of imparting justice and allows the parties to play a leading role in how the outcome is determined. Mediation relieves the court backlog as it can be accomplished in a fraction of the time and does not overly burdon the justice system.
As the WMS organizer, a big event for mediators, when do you think there will be big events open to the public? What do you think should be done to encourage the use of ADR?
The World Mediation Summit is designed to bring together ADR practitioners from all corners of the globe and across all fields of mediation, arbitration and ODR. We have included Ambassadors, diplomats, lawyers, mediators, ministries of justice, judges, students and more.
We address age old areas of mediation and areas where mediation is expanding. This year (2016) we included presentations on medical and health care mediation and invited people within the medical professions to join us to see how mediation can be incorporated into their practices. Leticia Villaluenga and Amparo Quintana provided separate medical related workshops which were widely accepted by the attendees at the Summit.
This year, WMS hosted an IMI day. IMI Executive Director, Irena Vanenkova facilitated the day and we had 23 countries represented, all interested in learning about IMI and mediation. By all accounts, the day was a great success. IMI also helped promote mediation and the Summit through their social networks as well as their mediation and public contacts.
Every year we have an increased number of people registering for the Summit including the public and we hope to see this trend continue so that eventually mediation in Spain will be mainstream.
Over the coming years,we will incorporate additional fields of mediation so that more and more people will be involved and become aware of the benefits of mediation.
It is through promotion and usage that the public will become increasingly aware of mediation and all it has to offer.
What assessment would you do of WMS 2016?
WMS 2016 was a tremendous success. We had over 200 people register this year with over 80 speakers including judges, diplomats, ambassadors, top mediation specialists in Spain and from across the globe including USA, Canada, India, UK, Germany, Poland, Netherlands, Asia, Israel, post Soviet countries and many more.
We had representatives present from top international organizations; AIA, AIM, CIARB, IDM, IMI, MBB.
We have received many accolades from presenters and attendees alike all stressing how much they enjoyed the Summit.
We have an amazing team of organizers, academics and volunteers who were indispensable in making the WMS a success.
The Summit was held at Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Facultad de Derecho and the opening ceremony included the Rector of UCM. The Dean of the UCM Faculty of Law, Executive Director of International Mediation Institute (IMI), Chair of our Academic Committee and the executive organizer of the WMS who all took part extolling the benefits of mediation.
Is mediation a new method to manage conflicts or a socio-cultural change?
Mediation has been used throughout the ages in various forms.
We can go back to the beginning of the 20th century (or earlier) to consider how mediation played a role in governments, laws and the resolution of conflicts even though the term ‘mediation’ hadn’t yet been conceived. From almost the beginning of time, forms of mediation have been used throughout the world to assist in the resolution of interpersonal conflicts.
As far back as the Bible, Koran, other world religious doctrines or ancient tribal customs we will find mention of third party interventions. Many Asian cultures preach that listening is of far greater importance than speaking (one of the key skills required in mediation is having the ability to actively listen to the parties).
In most of these historical cases, the ‘mediator’ was a revered member of the community; an Elder in Native American or First Nations (Canada) cultures. This individual held the respect of the community and was a ‘subject matter expert’ in the customs and traditions of the community. This Elder was known by many different names depending on the culture; Shaman, Sabio or Sage (all referring to good/wise ‘men’), who all held authority and were sought after by community members when a third party was requested to assist in the resolution of conflicts.
Moving further into the 20th century, ‘mediation’ was introduced in a more formal manner in the early 1900’s in the USA when labour and management were experiencing severe conflicts and strikes were disruptive.
In the 1920’s Jewish immigrants established a Jewish Conciliation Board in New York to mediate the conflicts they were experiencing in their new land. (This court remains even today).
In the 1960’s some of the most prolific literature was published on mediation and then in the 80’s Fisher and Ury wrote Getting to Yes which is still considered the textbook for interest-based mediation.
In the USA, and then Canada, separating and divorcing couples began to utilize mediation as a form of resolution as an alternative to the courts. This movement is said to be the impetus for where mediation is today on an international level.
The concept of ‘mediation’ entered Europe in the latter part of the 1970’s. England, Belgium, France and Austria were the frontrunners in introducing mediation into their societies and implemented judicial changes to enshrine mediation in their courts. In the early 80’s Spanish judges, lawyers, psychologists, social workers and academics, began debating the possibilities of the use of mediation in family related issues, namely for separating and divorcing couples.
An important step in Spain’s judicial history occurred in 1981 with their Law 30/1981 in which part of their Civil Code relating to marriage breakdowns was modified. This modification, while not specifically regulating mediation, offered the possibility of using mediation as an alternative to litigation.
Today we have Royal Decrees, new laws, national mediation training requirements and international mediation summits promoting the use of mediation
Would you like to share anything else that was left out?
I would like to close this interview by mentioning that at this 3rd annual World Mediation Summit, the number of attendees increased substantially. While every year the presentations are incredible, this year our attendees clearly agreed that a new pinacle was reached in 2016. We had top Spanish mediators presenting on our specialist panel, GEMME was represented as was the Spanish Ministry of Justice, we had diplomats from post Soviet countries as well as international Ambassadors from Bosnia, Australia, Serbia and Israel, all of whom explained how mediation at both a local and international level is becoming more and more important to the resolution of conflicts.
A significant part of our Summit is the opportunity to create networking opportnities with other mediation professionals. We provide networking coffee breaks and lunches as well as networking cocktail opportunities for all to mingle socially. This year we had the pleasure of listening to a wonderful live acapela band perform for us at the networking cocktail. For those who had free time outside the Summit hours, we provided free passes for Madrid tourist busses (generously provided by the City of Madrid).
This years Summit included a full IMI day, followed by a day of workshops in both English and Spanish, then an international day and finally a day of ADR specialization.
The concensus was that our new format was a success and everyone thoroughly enjoyed their time with us.
UNDP Roster of Experts
President, Mediation International
Executive Organizer, World Mediation Summit
Summer is here in Madrid! Less than a week be4 the 3rd World Mediation Summit! Looking forward to welcoming you all. pic.twitter.com/lsRjgpgQX3
— WMS Madrid (@WMS_Madrid) 29 de mayo de 2016