What is Conflict Resolution?

here are many ways to resolve conflicts - surrendering, running away, overpowering your opponent with violence, filing a lawsuit, etc. The movement toward Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), sometimes referred to simply as conflict resolution, grew out of the belief that there are better options than using violence or going to court. Today, the terms ADR and conflict resolution are used somewhat interchangeably and refer to a wide range of processes that encourage nonviolent dispute resolution outside of the traditional court system. The field of conflict resolution also includes efforts in schools and communities to reduce violence and bullying and help young people develop communication and problem-solving skills. Common forms of conflict resolution include:
  • Negotiation is a discussion among two or more people with the goal of reaching an agreement.

  • Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process in which a neutral third-party facilitator helps people discuss difficult issues and negotiate an agreement. Basic steps in the process include gathering information, framing the issues, developing options, negotiating, and formalizing agreements. Parties in mediation create their own solutions and the mediator does not have any decision-making power over the outcome.

  • Arbitration is a process in which a third-party neutral, after reviewing evidence and listening to arguments from both sides, issues a decision to settle the case. Arbitration is often used in commercial and labor/management disputes.

  • Mediation-Arbitration is a hybrid that combines both of the above processes. Prior to the session, the disputing parties agree to try mediation first, but give the neutral third party the authority to make a decision if mediation is not successful.

  • Early Neutral Evaluation involves using a court-appointed attorney to review a case before it goes to trial. The attorney reviews the merits of the case and encourages the parties to attempt resolution. If there is no resolution, the attorney informs the disputants about how to proceed with litigation and gives an opinion on the likely outcome if the case goes to trial.

  • Community Conferencing is a structured conversation involving all members of a community (offenders, victims, family, friends, etc.) who have been affected by a dispute or a crime. Using a script, the facilitator invites people to express how they were affected and how they wish to address and repair the harm that resulted.

  • Collaborative Law refers to a process for solving disputes in which the attorneys commit to reaching a settlement without using litigation.

  • Negotiated Rulemaking is a collaborative process in which government agencies seek input from a variety of stakeholders before issuing a new rule.

  • Peer Mediation refers to a process in which young people act as mediators to help resolve disputes among their peers. The student mediators are trained and supervised by a teacher or other adult.

Source: Association for Conflict Resolution
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