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November 01, 2008

Alternative Dispute Resolution Work Continues in Liberia

November 2008

As part of its efforts to promote awareness of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in Liberia, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) is undertaking a variety of activities to address the country’s needs. The ADR program emphasizes building local capacity by conducting mediation training for target groups and by ensuring that all written materials are tailored for Liberian audiences.

Recently, ABA ROLI mediation specialist Laurie Cooper and ABA ROLI legal intern Michael Diggs held a training session for employees at German Agro Action (GAA), a non-governmental organization working to improve access to water and install sanitation facilities. The group of 20 participants included agricultural officers, water and sanitation experts and monitoring and evaluation specialists. GAA requested the training because its staff members frequently find themselves and their services at the center of disputes. One participant described a situation in which the community squared off against a community elder over equitable use of a GAA-installed hand pump. To restore community calm, GAA enlisted ABA ROLI to conduct mediation training to facilitate improved dialogue between the elder and the villagers, with the ultimate goal of allowing the pump to be used once again by the local community.

Also, to meet Liberian legal and societal needs, it is necessary to adapt ABA ROLI’s well-developed and proven mediation training materials, tools and techniques. Cooper is currently working on this effort, which entails making linguistic changes and using familiar conflicts and disputes that are understandable to a broad Liberian audience.

Another facet of ABA ROLI’s ADR training is a video depicting a mock mediation case. However, due to the video’s age, quality and its intended use by western audiences, the Liberia staff has found that the current video is sometimes difficult for participants to understand. To address this, ABA ROLI has hired a local theater group to produce a training video created especially for Liberian audiences. Staff has reviewed the initial film and final editing is taking place. Once finalized, the training video will be fully incorporated into ABA ROLI’s ADR training program in Liberia and will enhance participants’ understanding of mediation techniques.

For more information about our work in Liberia, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at <[email protected]>.