UNITAR Delivers Course on Mediation and Human Rights
26 April 2017, New York, USA - The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) organized a workshop entitled “Mediation and Human Rights” taught by two Columbia Law School Professors at the Singapore Mission to the United Nations in New York. The workshop began with a few opening remarks by Mr. Marco Suazo who thanked Professor Alex Carter and Professor Shawn Watts for all their hard work in preparation for the workshop. He gave participants a brief summary of what to expect from the workshop.
Participants were taught that mediation can be a powerful tool in the process of advocating for and protecting human rights. This session highlighted how mediation may further the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by critically examining some current human rights mediation practices and highlighting some mediation skills that can be adapted and incorporated into human rights work.
The session brought together theoretical frameworks and practical skills. First, various case studies incorporating human rights and mediation were introduced. Then, there was an open discussion on the relative advantages and disadvantages of various models of mediation used in human rights work. This allowed participants to further their understanding of these issues through interactive exercises. Participants were encouraged to consider and propose different models of mediation that align with and fit their experiences in the human rights field.
Participants had to explore the different modes of questioning used during the information-gathering stages of mediation. Following this, the Professors used interactive exercises to explore ways of unpacking parties’ underlying interests, values, and visions. Finally, trainees participated in a mediation role play tailored to human rights advocacy followed by a comprehensive debriefing session. This allowed the participants to synthesize and deploy the skills learned throughout the day.
By the end of this session participants were able to identify some contemporary issues in human rights mediation, recognize the various underlying interests of parties to human disputes; and visualize the role of mediation in addressing all stakeholders’ varying needs.
Photo Credits: UNITAR