Mediation in a Globalizing World: Challenges to Multi-Culturalism, Peace-Building, and Religious Tolerance
De La Salle University, Taft Avenue, Manila, Philippines
December 9-11, 2013
Information about the APMF 2013 Summit
The main objective of the APMF Summit is to facilitate the exchange and development of knowledge, values and skills of mediation in any form including inter-cultural, interpersonal, inter-institutional and international, within and between the diverse countries and cultures in the Asia Pacific region through bi-annual conferences, which are held in the Asia-Pacific region with a different country taking responsibility for hosting each conference.
In 2013, the host of the APMF Summit was the Philippines, and the lead convenor was the De La Salle University. The aim of the Summit was to bring together and engage experienced conflict resolution and mediation practitioners, researchers, educators, trainers, civil society workers/practitioners, human rights activists, jurists, businessmen, and policy makers from different cultural, organizational and professional backgrounds who are culturally fluent, creative and innovative, want to contribute and build on their knowledge and expertise, and are prepared to play a leadership role in transforming the way that conflicts are handled in the Asia-Pacific region. The program of the 2013 APMF Summit included three days of combined paper presentations, round table discussions and mediation workshops at basic and intermediate levels.
The objectives of the Summit were as follows:
- To advance individual capacity and collaborations, build networks and promote cross-cultural awareness and understanding of mediation as well as of other conflict transformation processes across the Asia Pacific Region.
- To mine the collective depth and breadth of the delegates’ expertise in order to inspire strategies for change that can advance mediation and other conflict transformation processes with the end goal of promoting peace across the Asia Pacific region.
- To facilitate the development of effective themed action plans from cross-cutting and focused roundtable discussions that can be implemented by delegates and which have real potential to advance mediation and other conflict transformation processes in culturally fluent ways across Asia Pacific region.
- To inspire and support initiatives to advance mediation and other conflict transformation processes in the region.
Participants, speakers and other presenters at the Summit included individuals from the following sectors of countries in the Asia-Pacific region:
- The highest political, executive, legislative, and judicial government offices or departments of participating countries
- The business and private sector
- Civil society organizations (e.g. local NGOs and CBOs, INGOs, faith based organizations and IP organizations, among others)
- Inter-governmental bodies (e.g., UN Agencies, EU, ASEAN, World Bank and ADB, among others)
Details regarding the registration are available on the Summit website (see the link above).
Mediation in a Globalizing World: Challenges to Multiculturalism, Peacebuilding and Religious Tolerance
The serious contradictory outcomes brought about by globalization in human society – affluence and poverty, economic growth and deprivation, cultural homogeneity and increased awareness in socio-cultural heterogeneity, and ecological restitution and damages, among others – have divided the world between pro-globalization group and anti-globalization lobby. For over 20 years, scholars from various fields and disciplines have vigorously debated on issues and concerns confronting globalization focusing on its powerful economic, political, cultural, and social dimensions (Belk, 1996; Castells, 1996; Featherstone, 1990, 1995; Ger and Belk, 1996; Liebes and Katz, 1993; Robertson, 1992; Landes 1999; Sklair, 2002; Waters, 1995; Matei, 2006; Scholte 2000).
Anthony Giddens adds an important feature to the picture of globalization by describing it as having interactive and dialectical dimensions wherein worldwide social relations are intensified and “local transformations are lateral extensions of social connections across time and space… local happenings may move in an obverse direction from the very distanced relations that shape them” (1990: 64). Joseph Stigliz, a Nobel Prize winner in economics, sums up globalization itself as “neither good nor bad. It has the power to do enormous good. But in much of the world it has not brought comparable benefits. For many, it seems closer to an unmitigated disaster” (2002: 20). Barnet and Cavanagh (1994) contend that the process of globalization is inherently disruptive and that an increasing incidence of conflict is an inevitable bi-product of it. Globalization, thus, is both creative and destructive; it promotes security and increases risks; it makes the world smaller but disintegrates people; renders national borders irrelevant and yet tribalisms of all kinds flourish and irredentism thrives.
The socio-cultural and politico-economic conflicts in the world made mediation in its various forms imperative. As argued by Mazzella (2004), mediation processes are abundant in the context of globalization. While Mazzella is interested in the processes of mediation in ethnography, he views the process of dialogues, which can have positive or negative results in the settlement of disputes, create more value than would have been created if the underlying dispute had not occurred.
Globalization and mediation are intricately interlinked. While the former generally refers to the process of international integration arising from the interchange of world views, products, ideas, and cultures; the latter relates to the process that leads institutions and individuals to reflect and react on a given social dispensation, identify their roles within it, and gives meaning and value to their everyday practices and participation in a specific set of modes of intercession. Globalization and mediation as social processes have influenced the quality of peoples’ lives; they contain far-reaching implications to virtually every facet of human life. Thus, they have to be viewed not simply as opportunities for countries and citizens to be mindful of the impact of their countries actions and policies, but also in shaping and reshaping social relations within all countries, and across sectors between and among countries.
Mediation, which broadly refers to any occurrence in which a third party helps others reach agreement, possesses a structure, timetable and dynamics that ordinary negotiation lacks. The process is voluntary, participatory, private, confidential, and possibly enforced by law; and the mediator acts as a neutral third party and facilitates rather than directs the process. In as much as all forms of mediations involve dual relations, processes and measures can be effective instruments not only in raising public and political awareness to respond to socio-cultural and political conflicts, environmental disasters, and inequalities. These also deal with disputes that employ approaches relevant to multiculturalism, peace building consensus, inter-faith discourses, and other discords that aid parties reach a settlement to address their differences amicably and in a just manner. In this regard, disputants may mediate disputes in a variety of domains, such as commercial, legal, diplomatic, workplace, community, as well as household.
The effectiveness or ineffectiveness of mediation measures in multiple domains depends much on the mediator’s skill and training. As the practice gained popularity, training programs, certifications, and licensing followed that produced trained, professional mediators committed to the discipline and vision in developing, refining, improving, and promoting a dispute management system capable of addressing conflicts and disputes in various fields.
As the pace of global change is accelerating over time and across space, tensions associated with social changes have been largely inevitable, some are undoubtedly creative in their effects. These put great stress on individuals, social institutions, and governments. Unless human needs and rights issues involved are not adequately addressed, the incidence and intensity of social conflict concomitant with globalization are likely to increase steadily in the years ahead. A comprehensive and an inclusive institutional and policy reforms have to done to help individuals and societies adjust to change. However, measures taken so far have not provided adequate solutions to the perceived and felt problems.
Indeed, if the processes, practices, and theories and concepts of mediation have to respond effectively and mitigate if not completely answer the multi-dimensional aspects of disputes, new thinking about these old questions is essential.
It is against backdrop that this 6th Asia-Pacific Mediation Forum Conference is called.
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Belk, R.W., 1996. Hyperreality and globalization: culture in the age of Ronald McDonald. Journal of International Consumer Marketing 8 (3–4), 23–37.
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