What is Local Mediation

A non-profit community-based organization with mediators, staff and governing/advisory board members who are representative of the diversity of the local population served by the program.

Local mediation refers to a structured process in which individuals in dispute convene with trained mediators for a collaborative meeting to identify issues impacting their community and develop agreements to address them. The purpose is to strengthen citizens’ ability to solve their own problems without relying on the courts or other outside governmental institutions and to develop alternative conflict resolution processes for self-governance.

The use of local mediators – also referred to as “insider mediators” – in these processes can help to build trust and support the development of mutually acceptable agreements. Local mediators can include traditional elders, religious leaders, women’s groups, state officials, security sector actors and business people. Local mediation initiatives can be village, regional or country-based and operate at the local, sub-regional or international level.

Trained community facilitators are often employed to design meetings, ensure that all voices are heard, and keep discussions productive. They are often experienced in conflict-resolution and can offer in-depth knowledge of cultural constructs that may impact the dynamics of the discussion. Local mediators are also often best positioned to mediate between modern formal legal rules based on individual rights and customary laws, which are often rooted in traditions of collective punishment and the need for local leaders to maintain social stability.

Local mediation can help deescalate conflict, alleviate human suffering and bolster peace agreements. It can also serve to address some of the root causes of conflict, such as divisions between communities based on religion or ethnicity (e.g., in northern Mali or coastal West Africa) and to limit the ability of elites to mobilise their own communities for violence by using divide-and-rule tactics. Local mediation

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