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Role of Facilitator

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Purpose

Facilitator's role and function

Solutions summary

Facilitators from many organisations combine the roles of a mediator, lawyer, process and quality manager to help parties work towards a solution. To achieve a fair outcome the facilitator has the tasks to:

  • Make it most attractive for parties to cooperate
  • Organise a fair process for getting to a fair and acceptable outcome
  • Develop a mutual understanding of the conflict
  • Help parties to understand their options and possible solutions
  • Actively manage the process in terms of time and meetings
  • Ensure that both parties’ have the same chances to speak and to be heard
  • Ensure that needs, interests, emotions and views of both parties are addressed (See Tools 7b & 9)
  • Provide information on what others’ have done in similar situations
  • Explain relevant legal and other neutral information.
  • Use language that the parties can understand (no jargon) (see Tool 6b)
  • Advice on fair outcome (no guarantee) (see Tools 11 & 12)
  • Not adjudicate or provide a decision themselves unless parties explicitly ask him or her to do so 
  • Sometimes, he can organize support of another party to get parties towards acceptable and fair outcomes (see tool 15)

To carry out his work effectively, the facilitator must be:

  • Neutral (also not be affiliated to any political party)
  • Non-judgmental
  • Confidential
  • Calm and collected (very emotional facilitators can makes things more complicated)
  • Switch between roles (sometimes more mediator, lawyer or judge like person)
  • Casual, friendly and smart.
  • Respectful and polite.
  • Influential and respected.
  • Popular and fitting in the community so s/he will be able to bring in social norms and acceptability.
  • Aware that s/he is the mood-maker, how they act will influence the way the parties behave.
  • Patient and active listening.
  • Positive, serious and non-violent


Local solution: Conference Comments

Votes at Conference: 15

When you are a facilitator, there are many things that you need to do, or bear in mind:

  • Be aware of where you are, and which role you are playing (that or lawyer, facilitator, mediator etc.)
  • Maintain high standards of ethical behaviour
  • Always show all options to the parties. Increase transparency of the process
  • Convince the parties to cooperate.
  • Provide advice on fair outcome (but remember, you can give no guarantees)
  • Know or find out, relevant law and social tradition.
  • Be aware of challenges:
    • In China most highly regarded people are party members, which means they have more power - can be a challenge
  • You are the mood-maker. How you behave will influence how the parties behave
  • How you dress will also affect how parties view you. Depending on context, you might dress casually or smart,. Try to fit the community.
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Added by: CONFERENCE

Local solution: Role of the facilitator in all phases MHS

 

What is the role of mediator

Meet

  • The mediator checks if all parties are really committed to the dispute resolution process
  • Mediators are responsible for process of meeting
  • The mediator ensures that meetings are completed within the agreed time
  •  Mediators will try to ensure that parties are taking part in the process voluntarily
  •  Mediators may or may not have met with individuals before hand or know details of their position
  •  Mediators are neutral
  • Mediators follow a step by step process that is easy to follow
  • Mediators know when a matter is not suited for mediation
  • Mediators will not discriminate against parties on any grounds such as ethnicity, culture, religion, UN registration, gender, age or disability.
  • Mediators will not receive money or gifts before, during or after the mediation which leads to impartiality

Talk

  • The mediator listens to all parties and summarizes what they say
  • The mediator ensures that all parties have the chance to tell their stories
  • Mediators will ensure that both parties have equal opportunities to express themselves
  • Mediators will encourage balanced speaking time and negotiation
  • Mediators are responsible to ensure that all parties abide by process, listen to each other and participate in the mediation
  • Mediators help the parties to talk about their views and feelings, as well as the facts.

Share

  •  The mediator ensures all parties have the same information
  •  Mediators will terminate the process, if, after consultation with a participant, they believe the person is unwilling or unable to continue with the process
  •  Mediators will encourage the parties to obtain advice from family and friends
  • Mediators help you to get your views heard and  make sure all relevant information is shared
  • Mediators will list and explain the things you find important, so that they will be taken into account
  • Mediators will show you the rules from the law and inform you about your rights

Decide

  • The mediator explains the benefits of settling a dispute voluntarily
  • The mediator explains the importance of finding a compromise
  • The mediator has no decisive role, but a supporting role
  • Mediators will not play the role of decision maker. The mediator will not say who is right or wrong, or who wins or loses
  • Mediators will not pass judgment on parties
  • Mediators will not pressure parties to accept any particular solution or to terminate the process
  • Mediators are committed to assisting the parties to find a fair solution
  • If mediation fails the mediator helps parties to find their way to the camp judge
  • To help prepare a good assessment of the case by the camp judge, the mediator in collaboration with parties compiles the information that they want to share with the judge.

 

Stabilize

  • Mediators will assist parties to consider how their agreement will work in the future 
  • Mediators must not show any temper or negative emotion. Mediators will control their emotions throughout the process
  • Mediators will be patient and will not take any part in the conflict
  • Mediators will not use his/her role for personal interests
  • Mediators are here to help, not to judge anyone or anything that has happened
  • Mediators guarantee privacy. Mediators do not talk about the problems to others, unless the parties agree this is needed for a solution
  •  The mediator agrees with parties on the follow up
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Added by: IRC

Local solution: checklist role facilitator

  1. A Facilitator is impartial
  2. A facilitator asks open questions without judging
  3. The facilitator ensures that all parties have the chance to tell their stories
  4. The facilitator ensures all parties have the same information
  5. The facilitator listens to all parties and summarizes what they say
  6. The facilitator checks if all parties are really committed to the dispute resolution process
  7. The facilitators keeps an overview over the process
  8. The facilitator manages the time in the process
  9. The facilitator ensures that meetings are completed within the agreed time
  10. The facilitator has no decisive role, but a supporting role
  11. The facilitator explains the benefits of settling a dispute voluntarily
  12. The facilitator explains the importance of finding a compromise.
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Added by: DAS

Local solution: How to explain the role of the faciliator

The mediator’s roles is to assist the parties to conflict to find a solution by themselves through their own will, and to manage the process of mediation to help the two parties participate in the negotiation process successfully. The role of the mediator has two values which must be recognised and made clear to the parties: 1)      Neutrality: Mediators must adhere to impartiality principles to ensure the parties believe that s/he is a neutral person. At the beginning the mediators must introduce the parties to his institution, function and role. 2)      Confidentiality: Mediators must ensure that all information received must be kept confidential. By doing this it makes the parties feel secure telling the truth, as they know the mediators will not reveal any of the information to other people. If at a later point the case is referred to court, nothing discussed can be used in court. In addition, the mediator must adhere to a set of rules that should be made clear to the parties before the mediation:

  1. Mediators will not play the role of decision maker.The mediator will not say who is right or wrong, or who wins or loses
  2. Mediators must not show any temper or negative emotion. Mediators will control their emotions throughout the process
  3. Mediators will be patient and will not take any part in the conflict
  4. Mediators will try to avoid technical and legal terms.
  5. Mediators will not pass judgement on parties
  6. Mediators will not pressure parties to accept any particular solution or to terminate the process
  7. Mediators will not use his/her role for personal interests
  8. Mediators will not receive money or gifts before, during or after the mediation which leads to impartiality.
  9. Mediators will not discriminate against or for parties on any grounds, including but not limited to ethnicity, belief, tradition, custom, race or political belief.
  10. Mediators will try to ensure that parties are taking part in the process voluntarily
  11. Mediators will ensure that both parties have equal opportunities to express themselves.
  12. Mediators will ensure that all parties have equal standing in the mediation, regardless of any aspect including but not limited to gender, occupation, accommodation, wealth or age.
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Added by: ADHOC

Evidence from practice

Verbal Communication: In Mali and Cambodia, Deme-so and CDRCs respectively, use verbal communication to make sure that both parties know how their process of meetings work. They also emphasize that they are neutral, not on either party's side.
Use of T-Shirts: The facilitators of the OAS in Nicaragua can be recognized by their T-shirts. These are clearly marked and symbolize their neutral role and approach.
Explanation of Aims: In Mae Sot (Thailand), the dispute resolution providers in the Karen refugee camps explain that they are there to help the parties themselves find a solution, rather than to provide a solution.

Evidence from handbooks

Tips for the mediator:

  • Do not present yourself as a lawyer

Skills of the mediator:

  • Be impartial and neutral
  • Facilitate constructive dialogue
  • Active listening
  • Identify need, interest and outcomes
  • Take a problem solving approach
  • Broaden the perspective of both parties
  • Familiarize yourself with the law
  • Know when a matter is not suited for mediation
  • Summaries and communicate key points in a clear message that parties understand

The paralegal practice manual Legal Aid Forum, Rwanda 2009
Operations Manual for Commune Dispute Resolution Committee UNDP Cambodia 2008

Evidence from literature

The joint use of a rights-based grievance procedure, negotiation training, and an interest-based neutral generate greatly improved outcomes.

Complementarities in Organizational Dispute Resolution Systems: How System Characteristics Affect Individuals' Conflict Experiences, Bendersky, Corinne, Industrial and Labor Relations Review vol. 60 (2007) nr. 2 p.204-224, 2007
Lawyer as Problem Solver and Third-Party Neutral: Creativity and Nonpartisanship in Lawyering, The; Menkel-Meadow, Carrie, 72 Temp. L. Rev. 785 (1999)*Barendrecht, M. (2009). "In Search of Microjustice: Five Basic Elements of a Dispute System." SSRN eLibrary.

Gerard Egan also has a list of 'Essential Communication Skills' for helpers in his 'Skilled-Helper Model':

  • Tuning In
  • Active Listening
  • Responding with Empathy
  • Checking Understanding
  • Probing
  • Summarizing
  • Challenging
  • Negotiating
Egan, G (2007) The Skilled Helper. Brooks/Cole; Belmont CA

Role of Facilitator

by admin on March 2, 2011

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