Kazakhstani Judges Take Part in a Mediation Seminar

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December 2013

While Kazakhstan has adopted multiple alternative dispute resolution (ADR) laws in recent years, including mediation legislation in 2011, ADR remains a fairly unknown and underutilized dispute resolution mechanism in the country. From November 5–6, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI)—in cooperation with the Academy of Public Administration’s Institute of Justice and the United Nations Development Program—conducted a mediation seminar. Eight law professors and researchers from the Institute of Justice, a representative from the non-governmental organization Сenter on Mediation Development and 27 judges from the oblast courts, which operate at the appeals level, attended the seminar.

During a role-play activity, the judge of the Karaganda oblast court had the opportunity to serve as a mediator, while two trainers played the role of the clients.

During a role-play activity, the judge of the Karaganda oblast court had the opportunity to serve as a mediator, while two trainers played the role of the clients.

The workshop is part of ABA ROLI’s U.S. Agency for International Development-funded judicial reform program, which is implemented in partnership with local and international partners, including the Supreme Court of Kazakhstan, the Union of Judges and the Institute of Justice, to help increase judges’ knowledge about the implementation and benefits of mediation. Valentina Stepanova, mediation trainer and executive director of the United Center of Mediation and Peacemaking, and Gulnara Baigazina, an experienced defense attorney and mediator, led the seminar. Stepanova covered the basic premise of and techniques in mediation, while Baigazina discussed judicial mediation. Additionally, attendees deliberated the challenges to more broad use of mediation in Kazakhstan and brainstormed ways for overcoming the difficulties.

Participants said that the training, which encompassed small group work, interactive discussions, cases analyses and role-playing activities, helped enhance their understanding of mediation and of the differing roles of judges and mediators. In addition to historical accounts of mediation as a dispute resolution tool and presentations on why and how it’s currently used internationally, the training also provided an overview of Kazakhstan’s mediation laws. Discussions also covered techniques such as negotiation and active listening. The seminar concluded with a role-play exercise, which allowed trainees to participate in and observe a mock mediation, and provide feedback.

Recommendations compiled during the seminar will be presented to the Supreme Court and Institute of Justice for consideration.

To learn more about our work in Kazakhstan, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at rol@americanbar.org.

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