As we begin our third and final week, we are focused on our final projects. I am part of the group that must create a mediation process between the Afar people of Ethiopia on the Horn of Africa and the International Financial Corporation of the World Bank. The latter is funding a pipeline in Ethiopia for which the Afar feel they have not been properly consulted or compensated. We are to use the Compliance Advisory Ombudsman guidelines of The World Bank as well as traditional justice practices of the Afar people and other African and Asian contexts.

In preparation for constructing a mediation process, we are creating specific questions to ask the parties, as well as glean background information for our own use.

Questions to consider for strategic discernment and proposal of a mediation process:

For the Mediator and all parties:

What is the relevant cultural and historical information related to the context?

What is the nature of the conflict?

Who are the parties involved?

Who should be at the table?

What questions do each of the parties need to address to inform all at the table, including the Mediator?
Are there laws, policies, relevant guidelines or development strategies that must be considered by all parties?

What outcomes are sought?

Who settles what with whom?

For the mediator:

What biases do I, as the Mediator, bring to the process?

What are my strategies for managing my biases? Can I hold to “equidistance” and “impartiality” between parties while conveying necessary information?

Are there stories to be shared by each party?

Are there rituals of each group that might be helpful or need to be respected?

Where would the meeting be held? What aspects of the space need to be considered?

What do the words e.g., mediation, negotiation, etc., mean in each context?

Is there just, common ground between the justice practices of the parties involved?

Is there sufficient trust to begin to build an agreement? If not, have the two groups engaged in any activities that would build trust? What is the prognosis for reaching a sufficient level of trust? How will everyone know?

In my current repertoire what tools are most appropriate to helping the parties vet the issues and reach a resolution?