Kazakhstani Judges and Judicial Trainers Attend a Mediation Seminar

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May 2014

From February 25–26, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI), in cooperation with the Kazakhstani Academy of Public Administration’s Institute of Justice, conducted a mediation seminar for 30 judges from first instance courts located in various regions and seven faculty and staff of the Institute of Justice.

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 training was designed to help to enhance awareness of the legal and procedural aspects of mediation.

The training, the second of two, was designed to help to enhance participants’ awareness of the legal and procedural aspects of mediation—an alternative dispute resolution method identified as a priority within Kazakhstan’s ongoing judicial reform efforts. The course, which was requested by the Institute of Justice, promotes the use of mediation in the country.

Valentina Stepanova and Gulnar Baigazina, both of whom are local lawyers and mediators, and Julie Bronson, ABA ROLI legal specialist, led the seminar. Stepanova and Baigazina gave an overview of Kazakhstan’s mediation framework, presenting on the country’s mediation legislation and its application. Bronson’s presentation focused on the United States’ experience in mediation. She discussed how mediation emerged as a popular form of dispute resolution in the United States, the stages of its development and current mediation practices. Bronson emphasized the important role judges played in supporting mediation in the United States, describing the most common challenges—including the initial reticence of attorneys to use mediation and the process of mediation was confused with meditation. One of the biggest challenges in transitioning the focus from the parties’ legal rights, a main consideration in a traditional court setting, to the parties’ underlying interests—and the ways U.S. judges overcame them. Bronson said that while mediation as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism took a long time to evolve to its current stage in the U.S., the approach helps to make the judicial system more efficient by decreasing the courts’ workload and improving satisfaction with the justice system.

The seminar is part of ABA ROLI’s U.S. Agency for International Development-funded judicial reform program implemented in partnership with the Supreme Court of Kazakhstan, the Union of Judges and the Institute of Justice.

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

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