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  • Pamela McLean
    David and PoP people I am forwarding an email sent to me this morning by Ayorinde Olalaken who I first met severel years ago in Ago-Are, with David Mutua. As
    Message 1 of 1 , May 16, 2008
      David and PoP people

      I am forwarding an email sent to me this morning by Ayorinde Olalaken who I first met severel years ago in Ago-Are, with David Mutua. As you will see at the end of his email he says "I hope this piece of ideas for peace building and conflict management will be useful to David Mutua and other collegues working in Kenya."

      I'm sending the practical techniques for mediation to the group in Kenya to help in their efforts. The techniques were actually the original ideas of two peacemaking NGOs - Nigeria's Impact for Change & Development and the German Konrad Adeneur Foundation (KAF). The parts were extracted from my newly published book "Contemporary Dimensions of Public Relations,Principles, Perspectives and Challenges of the 21st Century" The training manual of the NGOs have been adopted for use by the Kofi Annan Institute for Peace Support in Ghana where all Africans now go for training.
      In monitoring conflict for mediation, please note that it is necessary to identify their root causes, accelerators and triggers as well as situations that can be employed to manage the conflict e.g. the conflict carrying ability of the Kenyan society to cope with conflict conditions; and peace generating factors promoting and sustaining healthy social relations, justice and peace e.g. good governance, inter-ethnic marriage, religion and sports.
                      In conflict management for peace building, it is important to identify the actors or stakeholders in the conflict. They are:
      1.            Primary Actors: those directly involved in the conflict.
      2.            Secondary Actors: those with interest in the problem but not directly involved.
      3.            Shadow Actors: they influence the conflict to promote their interest but not directly involved and may be hidden or unknown and their actions under cover do prolong tensions and conflicts.
      a.            The mediator helps parties to express their feelings as much as possible.
      b.            Assist parties in the conflict to reduce their anger or emotional pain so that they can attempt an acceptable resolution.
      c.             Assist parties to understand their concerns.
      d.            Identify the needs that must be met in order to address the concerns of parties.
      e.            Formulate issues or questions to be addressed in order to meet the needs of parties.
      f.             Fine-tune options generated in order to make them presentable.                                                           
      g.            Conduct reality test on the options to ascertain their workability.
      h.            The Mediator must present workable options for acceptance.
      i.              Reduce accepted options worked out by the parties to an agreement which indicates responsibilities of each party and what will happen in the case of default.
      In practice, the mediation process commences with pre-mediation information gathering, conflict analysis, shuttle mediation, agreement on date, time and venue as well as modalities; and ends with follow-up procedure for implementation. The procedural steps begin with a plenary session where parties in the conflict tell their stories to one another and to the Mediator. This session is followed by caucus meetings where each party meets separately with the Mediator and tells him or her the full story in confidence. The final plenary is follow-up caucus meetings which continue until the parties reach a mutually acceptable conclusion, talk directly to one another and reconcile. Even when they are unable to reach such a level of agreement, the process ends with a final plenary where the parties are informed of progress made to that point and given options of what the next steps could be.
      a.       Effective conflict mediation requires active listening skills to encourage parties in the conflict to state their minds. You need to clarify points raised, restate the points and reflect on them to understand how the individual speakers feel; and summarize the points to establish a basis for further discussion and show appreciation for his or her willingness to speak out to resolve the conflict. Try to discourage Positional Bargaining as it creates a win-lose result. Encourage and adopt the Principled Negotiation for gain-gain result in which no party in the conflict sees itself as having lost out completely. The gain-gain approach employs hard and soft methods of negotiation – hard on the issues but soft on the people and emphasize on cooperation of parties so that each will emerge as a winner. The main focus will be on interests not positions. Possible solutions are mutually generated and carefully evaluated before a final decision is made on which to adopt.
      Furthermore, you as the Listener (Mediator) must:
      i.                     Be impartial
      ii.                   Show understanding non-verbally using body language
      iii.                  Face the speaker to show rapt attention
      iv.                 Ask questions to understand what was said clearly.
      What you must NOT do as the neutral Mediator :
      1.       You must avoid advising or suggesting solutions.
      2.       You must not interrupt, ignore, judge or state opinion as a fact.
      3.       You must avoid sarcastic remarks and insults.
      4.       You must not give orders, threaten, preach or lecture.
      Problems usually encountered in conflict management, listed by professional mediators include:
      a.       Lack of information for proper diagnosis of the conflict leading to faulty prescriptions of a solution.
      b.      Lack of political will to solve the problem due to a number of reasons which may include fear of losing power, revenge and fear of losing face.
      c.       Lack of capacity to solve the problem e.g. legitimacy problem, weak authority to generate confidence and lack of resources to establish peace.
      d.      Complexities resulting from varied interests and motives, fortune seekers, drug barons, arms dealers, warlords etc.
      I hope this piece of ideas for peace building and conflict management will be useful to David Mutua and other collegues working in Kenya.

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