From the Mediation Committee - December 2023

Wednesday 20 December 2023

Federico Antich
Mediation Committee Co-Chair (2022-2023), Studio dell'Avvocato Antich, Florence

Shaun Henriques
Mediation Committee Co-Chair (2023-2024), Neutral DMC, Dubai

Dear members,

We as Co-Chairs are pleased to deliver this end-of-year Committee bulletin, in effect summarising some of the main items of interest for the latter part of 2023.  

We want to thank all of you for your steadfast support and extensive efforts in making 2023 a highly successful year for the Mediation Committee, which we expect to build on going into next year, and we hope that you will all enjoy a Holiday Season filled with peace, love and good food.  

As mediation professionals, however, it would be remiss not to think with sensitivity and empathy of those in many parts of the world who will not be able to enjoy the holidays as we might. In particular, we consider with extreme sadness all innocent people currently having to endure extensive unnecessary undeserved suffering at the hands of those who are not innocent, and we wish for any intervention that may assist in providing an immediate end to such suffering.  This is a discussion that we should never shy away from but, again with our disposition for mediation at the forefront, we must engage with civility and never with threats, sticks or stones.

Throughout 2023, we have been a highly active committee, resulting in quite an impressive catalogue of events, including online meetings, webinars, cross-committee collaborations, the Mid-Year retreat, capacity building at the CDRC, dispute settlement reform with UNCITRAL, answering the call to consider pro-bono assistance for Ukraine, and the Annual Conference sessions in Paris. Some of these highlights are mentioned below.

As at the 55th Session of UNCITRAL, the Commission again invited the Mediation Committee to attend its 56t. Session in July in Vienna, as well as the 6th Inter-sessional meeting of UNCITRAL's Working Group III, in September in Singapore, primarily concerned with WG III's 2017 mandate to work on reform of Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), including mediation. Much of the discussion focused on two potential reforms viewed as involving the most significant change to ISDS, a standing multilateral first instance mechanism and an appellate mechanism. There was also an engaging colloquium on climate change and carbon credits, and the potential for related disputes.

In July 2023, the Vienna IBA-VIAC CDRC Mediation Competition was again successfully staged, albeit in a hybrid format. The next competition is now in the process of being organised and is expected to be held between the 5 - 10 July 2024.  Members are encouraged to participate as it is an ideal opportunity to assist with training the next generation of dispute resolution professionals, and to also network with leading experts in the field.

There are also other similar collaborations being discussed and or developed with other well known institutions which should significantly expand the footprint of the IBA Mediation Committee.

The Mediation Committee's traditional 'Mediation Breakfast' to be held at the 25th Annual IBA Arbitration Day in Singapore in February, 2024, is already being organised and will be reported on at the next Committee call in March 2024.

The next Mid-Year Leadership Meeting will be held 22-25 May 2024, in Bucharest, Romania.

In the final officers' call for this year on the 15th December 2023, it was agreed that all five of the Mediation Committee's Annual Conference sessions were highly successful, being well attended and generating significant interest, including many requests from attendees to join our Committee.  We continue to make real progress from our extensive efforts and to learn invaluable lessons for future reference from our experiences.

To recap, the sessions held at the IBA's Annual Conference in Paris including the Dispute Resolution LPD Showcase this year were:

  • 'The psychology and practice of online mediation and AI supported mediation'
  • 'Mediation and Access to Justice 2023', together with the Access to Justice Committee.
  • 'Commercial Mediation in Africa in relation to Singapore Convention on mediated settlement."
  • “Mediation and the Challenges of the 21st Century - Including the status of the Singapore Convention and mediation guidelines for international commercial dispute”.
  • “Talk to me. A conversation with experienced mediators about the magic of mediation - sharing some of the “secrets” of the trade and discussing different approaches to different dispute scenarios".
  • and the Annual Showcase presented jointly by the five Dispute Resolution LPD Committees was on the topic of
  • "The use (and misuse) of artificial intelligence in dispute resolution".

The initial proposed topics for the sessions for next year's IBA Annual Conference 2024 in Mexico are:

  • Construction mediation
  • Aviation mediation
  • Commercial mediation in conflict zones; and
  • Mediation funding.

The title for the LPD Showcase is still being decided.  The final descriptions and persons handling these sessions will also be disclosed by the next officers' call in March 2024, so stay tuned.

The webinars in 2023 included:

For those who were unable to join this year's webinars, they can be viewed on the IBA website at the links above.

Webinars topics for 2024 are being considered and we are open to suggestions as usual, bearing in mind that those who propose should be available to deliver and that the IBA requires at least two months notice in advance of the intended date.

Please feel free to share with us your own thoughts related to mediation in the form of articles, notes, or simple suggestions.  You may address them to our 'acting' publications Officer, until further notice: Shaun Henriques, shaunh@neutraldmc.com.

Finally, we again wish you all the very best for the holiday season, however you celebrate, and we leave you with the gift of some mediation related reading, in the form of three articles from our members:

Best wishes,
Federico Antich and Shaun Henriques (Co-Chairs)