Bulgaria and Croatia
In July, FSRI President Vic Schachter worked in Bulgaria and Croatia to assess those countries’ existing programs, provide counseling, and evaluate how FSRI can collaborate to strengthen and improve them. Between July 3 and 19, he worked in Sofia, Bulgaria and Zagreb, Croatia, with the support of various judges, court officials and mediation administrators. In both Bulgaria and Croatia, there are a number of visionary judges working earnestly towards developing successful mediation programs. They need assistance in increasing court referrals to the centers, coaching their volunteer mediators and improving systems and facilities. All of these challenges are similar to those we experienced in other countries, and we are hopeful, with stronger support from the judiciary, that significant progress can be made in the future.
During this Balkans visit, Vic met with high level judicial officers, trial and appellate judges, officials of the national and state bars, various mediator groups, representatives from private practice, and the Director of the National Judicial Academy. The Balkans’ civil law systems posed unique challenges, but they have promise of operating very effective mediation centers with continued work and support. Written reports are being prepared for each country, and it is anticipated that we will be invited to continue work there within the coming year. It was very exciting to see these newly emerging democracies, facing many economic and social challenges, reaching out for more effective rule of law and dispute resolution systems.
While en route to the Balkans, Vic met with some Austrian judges in Vienna, and considerable interest has been expressed to work with their mediation initiatives as well.
Mediation Conference — Admont
In late July, Vic attended the 6th International School on Business Mediation Conference in Admont, Austria, where he, Board Member Rebecca Westerfield and Advisory Board Member Laila Ollapally, participated on a panel entitled “Lessons to be Learned from Mediation in India.” This program also provided an excellent opportunity to network with advanced thinkers from around the globe about cutting edge techniques in mediation practice, and to develop potential relationships and financial resources for FSRI’s future initiatives.
ABA Global Summit
For the first time in its history, the American Bar Association Section on Dispute Resolution will be holding its annual, global conference in New Delhi, India. FSRI has been invited to participate in the planning of this event and moderate a panel on various issues relating to the establishment of sustainable mediation programs in India and Southeast Asia. FSRI will participate as a Sponsor of this unique event, which is expected to draw mediation experts and interested participants throughout Southeast Asia. Dignitaries from the ABA and Supreme Court Justices of India, among other high officials, will be participating, and we are honored to be involved in this unique program. In addition to Vic, Board members Rebecca Westerfield, Laila Ollapally and Howard Herman will be participating on various panels addressing the development of sustainable mediation programs, “court-annexed” mediation initiatives and related topics at the cutting edge of ADR systems development.
Board of Directors Expansion
FSRI is delighted to welcome its new additions to the Board of Directors, Pamela Merchant and Dana Curtis. We are very fortunate to have these talented individuals join us and lend their gifts to further FSRI’s work. Pamela is a prominent leader in the field of human rights, having served as Executive Director of the Center for Justice and Accountability. Dana is a pioneer and leader in the Bay Area ADR field and is a highly accomplished, full-time mediation practitioner and university lecturer.
As we approach 2015, we have a very full plate given our expanded work from Southeast Asia to the Balkans. In addition, there are requests from other parts of the world (e.g., South America and Malaysia), which we hope to respond to in the coming year.
October FSRI Board Meeting
The next FSRI Board meeting is scheduled for Monday, October 6, 2014 in San Francisco.