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The Ecuador Project: JAMS Foundation & Mediators Beyond Borders


Today’s post comes from one of the JAMS Weinstein International Fellows, Ximena Bustamante. Based in Ecuador, Ms. Bustamante is working to develop the field of ADR and train other ADR professionals in her home country. The Weinstein International Fellowship program is an opportunity for fellows from around the world to come to the United States to pursue a project of their own design that serves to advance dispute resolution in their home countries.

Mediators Beyond Borders (MBB) and the JAMS Foundation launched a mediation project in Ecuador, providing tools and resources to support growth and professionalization of ADR. At the same time, this project will offer Ecuadorian and American mediators an opportunity for cross-cultural exchange and mutual learning. With these objectives, the Ecuador Project was conceived with three main objectives: 1) an online virtual resource, 2) a series of symposiums, and 3) an outreach component.

The online virtual resource was created in response to the requests from our local partners. Several years ago, the World Bank sponsored a program to create a mediation network community in Ecuador. The network produced great momentum and advanced mediation in every corner of the country. However, at the end of the program, the mediation community disappeared along with its achievements. Most of our local partners have called for the resurrection of this type of group. With that in mind, aided by the Saint Thomas University School of Law, we developed an online platform that will reunite the mediation network community.

This technical resource allows the exchange of experiences, techniques, ideas and articles between practitioners, which significantly reduces the expense of being in the same room.  Moreover, it will be available in the long term, independent of the project completion. Even further, this tool is bilingual, with the capability to expand the mediation network beyond these borders, and provide a space for cross-cultural exchange to American and Ecuadorian mediators. Finally, the technical resource will allow our local partners to collaborate in the design of country-relevant symposiums.

The second phase of the project has two objectives. The first is to provide local and international mediators with a space to exchange tools and techniques. The second is to raise the community’s awareness of mediation. As a result, envision hosting a series of symposiums in September in three Ecuadorian cities, Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca. Initially the symposiums will be directed at mediation practitioners from both countries and will also provide mediation training to judges and members of the judiciary. Finally, the symposiums will also invite the participation of in-house counsel, insurance attorneys and private law firms in an effort to promote the development of the mediation market in each city.

With the results of the symposium, we will develop an outreach component, which will help with the development of peer mediation, unknown in Ecuador, or the training of justices of peace, a legal figure not yet in practice.  The mutual exchange promoted by the Ecuador Project will not only bring new techniques to both America and Ecuador, but will also plant the seeds for the professionalization of the field in Ecuador.

March is Mediators Beyond Borders Month at ADRHub.com.


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