Obtaining durable solutions through proactive mediation

Thomas B. Mawolo, JPC

Liberians often use the example of cow pupu to describe conflicts. Cow pupu has an outward appearance of a dried product but inside is still wet.

This parable makes sense to me especially concerning mediation. In the mediation work of the JPC, we try to find true solutions to the problems of our clients, not just small solutions that will become a problem another day.

In July, the JPC participated in a training in peace education organized by UNHCR in Gbarnga. There we discussed two types of mediation: reactive
and proactive.

A proactive approach to a mediation finds a durable
solution so it cannot resurface.

Reactive mediation is a type of mediation we are very
used to in Liberia. It is often undertaken by people who have status in their society.

The mediator may give advice to a party what to do or encourage the parties to come to a mediation table even when they are not ready.This may possibly result in a durable solution, but at the end of the day it may result in a situation of cow pupu, where the problem is not really solved.

Proactive mediation requires a positive resolution to the conflict so that it never reoccurs. It is necessary for all the parties to a problem to come willingly to the mediation table. No one should send a proxy or family head in their place. The mediator does not force anybody to a mediation.

We often find that this kind of proactive approach results in a better solution to the problem – one that includes mediation, resolution and transformation.This should be the goal of a Community Legal Advisor.

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