Building on the success of an international partnership with the Athens based Hellenic Mediation and Arbitration Centre, members of the Mediators Beyond Borders International dialogue training team will be presenting “Strategies for Promoting Non-Violent Resolution of International Conflicts” at the upcoming American Bar Association section on Dispute Resolution on April 3, 2014 in Miami. Veteran mediators Nan Waller Burnett, MA (Colorado), Alan Gross, PhD. (Pennsylvania), Thomas P. Valenti, Esq. (Illinois), and Rachel Wohl, Esq. (Maryland) will discuss how “The Athens Migration Dialogue ” was developed, planned and implemented by MBBI.
The “Athens Migration Dialogue ” planning began in May of 2012 with the aim of building capacity for facilitating difficult conversations about migration in Greece. The first trainings were conducted in April 2013. Greece, which has experienced numerous economic upheavals throughout history, has been racked with rising violence due to clashes between neo-Nazi extremist groups such as Golden Dawn and the influx of immigrants from non-EU countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the Sudan seeking a safe haven. The second series of trainings were held in July 2013, a third one in October 2013, and a fourth one is currently scheduled for April 5-17, 2014 in Athens. As part of the week long training sessions the “Third Public Dialogue” will be held on April 12, 2014 focusing specifically on violence.
The presentation at the American Bar Association conclave will focus on the five stages utilized by the project: developing an international team of trainers, facilitators and mediators; creating a cohesive network of mediators and other interested individuals and organizations in
the host country who will continue to facilitate and enhance communication on conflicts; improving the techniques for civil society dialogue through international collaboration; designing training programs that will assist a core group of community leaders and volunteers to develop and further hone their dialogue/facilitation/conflict resolution skills; creating an international public dialogue/consensus-building program that can be replicated in other countries.
Kenneth Cloke, JD, LLM, PhD., President Emeritus of MBBI and lead dialogue trainer for the project stated in a paraphrase of Robert F. Kennedy that “ ‘ few of us will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events…’ Our hope is that the program prototype will not only change some of the troubling events of violence and bias in a country known for its hospitable people, but that our work will spread to other places with equally positive results.”
Mediators Beyond Borders International is a non-profit organization based in Arlington, Virginia. The organization is comprised of volunteers throughout the world dedicated to building a more “peace-able” world. In addition to the Athens Migration Dialogue project, the organization currently has mediation programs in Columbia, Ecuador, Israel, Kenya, Liberia, Nepal and Sierra-Leone.
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