Posted: Wed Sep 28, 2011 3:09 am Post subject: Shia Imami Ismaili Conciliation and Arbitraion Boards (CABs)
Mediation Within One Community
September 25th, 2011 · No Comments
Last week I had the pleasure of attending an event sponsored by the Prince Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismaili Conciliation and Arbitraion Board for the USA (CAB). The goal of the event was to introduce the Dallas-Fort Worth legal and dispute resolution community to the work of the CAB. My previous experience with the Ismaili community was limited to seeing educational and humanitarian projects conducted by the Aga Khan Foundation in Central Asia. So, it was fascinating to learn more about the Ismaili community as a whole and the mediation program in particular. The mediation program is for members of the Ismaili community worldwide and predominately handles family/divorce and business disputes without charge. All family/divorce matters are handled through a co-mediation model with a male and female mediator. And, about half of the CAB mediators are women.
Among the many interesting and thoughtful aspects of this mediation program is how proactive it is in following up with the parties. Within 30-60 days after each mediation, whether resolution is reached or not, the mediators get in touch with the parties to see if there is a need for any further assistance. The Ismaili community as a whole seems to offer much support to its members and has institutional resources that can help with implementing the mediation agreements and the mediators themselves seem to be well attuned to helping the parties access those resources.
In addition, the CAB keeps what seem to be admirable records of all mediations including identifying the “root causes” of the conflict. The stated goal is to determine what might be done within the community to prevent future disputes. One example that was given was that the “root cause” of many business disputes within the community is the lack of written agreements, as many of the businesses are conducted between family members. As a result of this conclusion, another Ismaili institution conducts educational programs to encourage written contracts in all business agreements, including between family members.
The mediators are all volunteers and serve for a three year term up to a maximum of six years. The mediators themselves undergo over 40 hours of initial training and have follow-up training. Most of the mediators are non-lawyers. One interesting side-benefit of this structure is that over the 25 years that this program has been in place, many members of the community have been mediators, received training, and presumably bring better conflict management skills with them after they finish their terms as mediators.
Since all of the mediators, and the parties, are from the same community, it seems one great advantage of this mediation program is that the mediators are aware of the cultural and religious context for the parties and their disputes. But, what was more impressive to me was how proactive the CAB seems to be in reaching out to the wider dispute resolution world and incorporating the continually evolving understanding of best practices and theory into their approaches.
UK National Conciliation and Arbitration Board (NCAB) leads workshop on mediation.
ADR Group and ADRg Ambassadors Deliver Senior Level Training Workshop to UN Friends of Mediation
Posted on Thursday, June 07, 2012
10 June 2012 - ADR Group in cooperation with ADRg Ambassadors and the UK National Conciliation and Arbitration Board (NCAB) of the Ismaili Community led an advanced mediation workshop for members of the United Nations Friends of Mediation in New York last month.
Sir Stewart Eldon KCMG OBE (who has served as UK Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, UK Ambassador to Ireland and UK Permanent Representative to NATO) introduced the event and provided personal reflections on mediation and peacemaking. Mr. Nazmin Kassam, Chairman of NCAB UK, presented his insights on the unique international model of alternative dispute resolution used by the Ismaili community in dealing with commercial and family disputes. Mr. Rahim Shamji, Director of Education and Training at ADR Group, moderated the interactive training workshop, drawing on his experience in cross-cultural community based mediation training.
Formed in 2010 the United Nations Friends of Mediation is co-chaired by Finland and Turkey and has 25 Member States and seven International Organization members. They play a significant role in increasing the visibility of mediation within the United Nations and other International Organizations, and promoting cooperation between different actors.
Members place importance on building and improving mediation capacity within their Ministries and Organizations and have looked to ADR Group to impart fresh insights on international and community based mediation.
The event which had the theme Cross-Cultural Issues in Mediation was designed to increase cultural awareness in a conflict prevention context. Senior diplomats from 19 Member States and Mediation Experts from four International Organizations attended.
This was the first time members of the group had participated in a mediation workshop together and feedback was extremely positive.
ADR Group has significant international experience especially in developing countries where they have contributed to the increasingly widespread use of mediation through training and capacity building, and through the establishment of sustainable community and court based Alternative Dispute Resolution infrastructures.
In cooperation with ADRg Ambassadors, ADR Group has trained senior staff in International Organizations and Foreign Ministries, as well as through education institutions. The unique approach to mediation training draws on real-life examples to combine the psychology and technique of professional mediation with operational diplomatic skills in resolving disputes.
Kenya Conciliation, Arbitration
Board Mediation Programme
Members trained for the alternate dispute resolution
service they provide to the Ismaili community in Kenya
Coastweek-- The Conciliation and Arbitration Board of Kenya, had a two day training and orientation programme on Mediation over the weekend of 5th and 6th January 2013 in Nairobi .
This is in keeping with the objective of getting its Members trained for the alternate dispute resolution service they provide to the Ismaili community in Kenya on a voluntary basis.
A total number of 18 members from the Mombasa and Nairobi Regional Conciliation and National Conciliation Boards participated in the programme which was conducted jointly by Mr. Rahim Samji who is a member of the National Conciliation and Arbitration Board United Kingdom and Rosemin Bhanji, Chairperson of National Conciliation and Arbitration Board for Kenya.
"And therefore the Constitution links every Murid to the Imam of the Time. In the same way, the rules and regulations have been designed to take into account national law in various countries, old traditions and habits, new needs. But basically, the new Constitution provides that every Murid has the same relationship to the Imam of the Time in the administration of Jamati matters and that is, I think, a very important step." (Gilgit, Nov 21, 1987)
Last edited by kmaherali on Mon Dec 28, 2015 9:25 pm, edited 1 time in total
The article below is about faith based arbitration in the US which may provide the backdrop to the operation of CAB in the US.
For generations, religious tribunals have been used in the United States to settle family disputes and spiritual debates. But through arbitration, religion is being used to sort out secular problems like claims of financial fraud and wrongful death.
Customers who buy bamboo floors from Higuera Hardwoods in Washington State must take any dispute before a Christian arbitrator, according to the company’s website. Carolina Cabin Rentals, which rents high-end vacation properties in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, tells its customers that disputes may be resolved according to biblical principles. The same goes for contestants in a fishing tournament in Hawaii.
Religious arbitration clauses, including the one used by Teen Challenge, have often proved impervious to legal challenges.
His Highness Prince Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismaili Conciliation and Arbitration Board for Canada
Throughout history, the Ismaili Community has maintained a tradition of resolving disputes and differences through an entirely voluntary process of mediation, conciliation and arbitration.
The ethic of fair mediation is frequently expounded in the Holy Qu’ran which says:“He who shall mediate between people for a good purpose shall be the gainer by it. But he who shall mediate with an evil mediation shall reap the fruit of it. And Allah keepeth watch over everything.” (4.85)
On December 13, 1986 the Constitution of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, ordained by His Highness Prince Aga Khan, established a dispute resolution system whereby Conciliation and Arbitration Boards (CAB) would operate at the regional, national and international levels. Currently, the CAB system operates in 18 jurisdictions around the world.
In Canada, there is a National Board (NCAB) and five Regional Boards (RCAB) for British Columbia, Edmonton, Prairies, Ontario and for Quebec and the Maritime Provinces. The primary objective of CAB is to provide dispute resolution services to the Jamat in the areas of commercial, matrimonial and family matters, including those relating to matrimony, children of marriage, matrimonial property, and testate and intestate succession.
CAB also works with other Ismaili Institutions in the areas of dispute prevention, conflict management and addressing issues that arise during and after the dispute resolution processes.
There is an interesting article on the CAB published in Chicago Daily Law Bulletin of April 6th, 2016 Vol 162 No. 67 titled: "A modern, worldwide dispute resolution system inspired by Islam" .
The article concludes with:
"It is a shame that given recent terrorist attacks in the name of Islam and the news coverage surrounding such events, writing about Muslims engaged in peace-making feels like a man-bites-dog-story. This group has a lot of mediation experience to share."
“At a time when resolving disputes in courts can be prohibitively costly and slow, this guide to arbitration — as part of the process of “alternative dispute resolution” — is especially timely. It takes the reader through the full range of issues involved, in language that is eminently accessible, and a style that is inviting and peppered with worldly wisdom. As a bonus, the author draws on his professional experience at the community level to explain the workings of conflict resolution…. in the sophisticated institutional context of a contemporary community practice.
— Dr. Amyn B. Sajoo, Simon Fraser University, Canada
About the author
The author had studied law with the University of London. He then embarked on writing a book on the law of Wills and Trusts. Whilst it was based on Kenyan law, Kenya being formerly tied to the “British empire” had the origins of its laws from the UK, as is the case in Canada.
This book received accolades from the then Attorney General’s office and has been recommended as a reference book for several years for law students, lawyers and law makers.
As a firm believer in alternate dispute resolution systems he studied to become a member, followed by becoming a fellow of the renowned Institute of Arbitrators of England.
Not only has he conducted numerous arbitrations but has written several articles on the subject, conducted training seminars on this subject.
He was Chairman of the Aga Khan Conciliation Arbitration board of Kenya, part of the International Conciliation and Arbitration Board with its network of Boards in north America, Western Europe, Africa, and the Indian sub-continent.
He has made several submissions not only to this prestigious board but to governments, movers and shakers. He has endeavoured to be, on the one hand, brief so as not to clutter the mind of the novice, but has given in as simple a way as possible a large segment of the vast array of principles of this law.
Included is a treatise on the origins of this process, the different kinds of alternate dispute resolution processes and the advantage over State Controlled Dispute resolution processes- The courts. He has also included reference to “the Power of an apology”, discussed online ADR systems, and discusses its origins in Islam, a religion that has perked the interest of the west, of a religion that is so widespread and yet so misunderstood.
More important he has tried to expound a more altruistic view of dispute resolution using apt “Words of wisdom”. He tries to show that as Shakespeare put it “to obtain a pound of flesh”. Or to do it for the sake of revenge is not the right way to go.
Arbitration is a more formal, involved ADR process which whilst gaining importance is the least understood process. He endeavours to make arbitrators or parties to an arbitrators out of novices with the least amount of effort. He endeavours to demystify this creature called “Arbitration” He includes a glossary of terms His appendix not only contains sample agreements, rules etc but has sample arbitration clauses, not only for regular contracts but for Company constitutions, wills, and marriage contracts!!
It is a shame that the dispute below could not be resolved through CAB saving $$$$ which that could be utilized in more valuable charitable work.
Popat sons fight over father’s multi-billion shilling empire
Two sons of businessman Abdul Karim Popat are embroiled in a vicious battle for control of their father’s multi-billion shilling empire, offering rare insight into the patriarch’s wealth and setting in motion what is promising to be one of Kenya’s most bruising succession wars.
Ross MacDonald and Noordin Nanji appointed Queen's counsel in British Columbia
DECEMBER 2016 - Congratulations to Ross MacDonald and Noordin Nanji on their recent Queen's counsel appointment, announced last week by British Columbia's Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Suzanne Anton.
The QC designation is conferred each year on members of the legal profession to recognize exceptional merit and contribution. Successful candidates are nominated by their peers after which an advisory committee reviews applications and makes recommendations to the Attorney General. The appointments were made by cabinet through orders-in-council.
Ross was one of six lawyers who opened the Vancouver office of Stikeman Elliott in 1988 and has been Managing Partner of the office for the past 18 years. Leading a formidable commercial real estate practice, Ross's work has been behind every development project that has shaped the city of Vancouver and surrounding Lower Mainland since the early 1990s.
Noordin, in addition to being a leading corporate lawyers in BC, is former Chairman of the Aga Khan International Conciliation and Arbitration Board, and current Chairman of the Vancouver General Hospital and UBC Hospital Foundation.
His Highness Prince Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismaili Conciliation and Arbitration Board for Canada
Throughout history, the Ismaili Community has maintained a tradition of resolving disputes and differences through an entirely voluntary process of mediation, conciliation and arbitration.
The ethic of fair mediation is frequently expounded in the Holy Qu’ran which says:
“He who shall mediate between people for a good purpose shall be the gainer by it. But he who shall mediate with an evil mediation shall reap the fruit of it. And Allah keepeth watch over everything.” (4.85)
On December 13, 1986, the Constitution of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, ordained by His Highness Prince Aga Khan, established a dispute resolution system whereby Conciliation and Arbitration Boards (CAB) would operate at the regional, national and international levels. Currently, the CAB system operates in 18 jurisdictions around the world.
In Canada, there is a National Board (NCAB) and five Regional Boards (RCAB) (British Columbia, Edmonton, Prairies, Ontario and Quebec and the Maritime Provinces). The primary objective of CAB is to provide dispute resolution services to the Jamat in the areas of commercial, matrimonial and family matters, including those relating to matrimony, children of marriage, matrimonial property, and testate and intestate succession.
CAB also works with other Ismaili Institutions in the areas of dispute prevention, conflict management and addressing issues that arise during and after the dispute resolution processes.
“Mediation has to enter its next phase of Development” – International Cross Cultural specialist Dr. Mohamed Keshavjee tells the UN
Addressing an audience of some 300 people made up of leading judges, constitutional lawyers, medical practitioners, international diplomats and prominent business people, Dr Mohamed Keshavjee, well known specialist on cross cultural mediation said that “mediation now has to enter its next phase of global development if it is to fulfill its basic promise”. He was speaking at Kuala Lumpur’s prestigious Lake Club on 2nd October to celebrate the 2017 Annual Gandhi Memorial Trust lecture as the keynote speaker to mark Malaysia’s observance of the UN International Day of Non-Violence which was opened by Stefan Priesner, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP representative for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.
Referring to the Sustainable Development Goals, which is a comprehensive roadmap that brings the social, environmental and economic dimensions together towards ensuring an improvement in the quality of life for those furthest behind, Priesner highlighted 3 main underpinnings: Peaceful and inclusive societies; protection of harmony and cultural diversity and the link between non- violence and the environment.
“Gandhi,” he said “reminded us that the Earth provides enough to satisfy everyone’s need but not everyone’s greed”
Keshavjee highlighted to the audience the reasons why mediation has gained traction in the world. Courts are clogged globally, litigation is becoming progressively expensive and the “adversarial system”, he emphasized, “has to a large extent failed the human family”. He cited numerous examples where mediation today was the preferred option and these ranged from family issues and neighborhood disputes to cases of professional negligence, mass torts such as breast implant cases and environmental degradation, to Truth and Reconciliation Commissions. In international conflict, he stressed, “mediation has the greatest chance of reaching a lasting solution”.
Mohamed Keshavjee (in yellow shirt) flanked by The Thai Ambassador to his right and the UN Resident Coordinator Stefan Preisner to his left. To Preisner's left is Mrs Preisner and to her left is the Indian High Commissioner to Malaysia H.E. T.S Tirumurti and Mrs Tirumurti. Photo credit: Parvaiz Machiwala
Mohamed Keshavjee (in yellow shirt) flanked by The Thai Ambassador to his right and the UN Resident Coordinator Stefan Preisner to his left. To Preisner’s left is Mrs Preisner and to her left is the Indian High Commissioner to Malaysia H.E. T.S Tirumurti and Mrs Tirumurti. Photo credit: Parvaiz Machiwala
He focused on 4 leading figures of the 20th century whose conflict interactions could inform the next phase of development which is Transformative Mediation. These are Mahatma Gandhi, The Reverend Martin Luther King Jnr, Nelson Mandela and Dr Daisaku Ikeda, the Japanese scholar of non violence. Keshavjee explained that conflict leads to negative feelings such as alienation, mutual demonization, self absorption and a general feeling of pain and anguished-feelings that affect all protagonists. Transformative Mediation helps people to change the paradigm from demonization to recognition, from hate to love and from self absorption and grievance rhetoric to enablement and new hope. “These moral icons ensured that their social activism was informed by deep philosophical reflection and through their conflict relationships were able to transform millions of lives throughout the world”. Keshavjee cited satyagraha or truth- force which Gandhi developed and used in his struggle against racial discrimination in South Africa, Ubuntu a humanizing attribute which is so deeply ingrained in the African culture and which inspired Nelson Mandela to promote the healing process to take place after the end of apartheid, the agape concept which Martin Luther King Jnr. followed to champion the civil rights movement in the USA and the work of the Japanese pacifist Daisaku Ikeda which is followed by the Soka Gakai movement he founded and which has spread to over 192 countries today.
Referring to the present so called “post truth” society fuelled by exponential technology and the social media, Keshavjee stressed the need to recapture the narrative, which he said has to be based on ethical thinking and moral reasoning. “We may not have too much time as Mother Nature, Globalization and Technology are proceeding at an exponential rate, far outstripping the human capacity to grapple with the implications of this rapid change”. The need of the day is greater respect for pluralism and the harnessing of talent of all to bring about a greater understanding between people. While in Malaysia, Keshavjee will address the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur on “Cosmopolitan Ethics” on Friday 4th October and the Penang Institute, a leading think thank on Monday 9th October in Penang as guest of Malaysia’s former UNDP resident representative Dato Anwar Fazal, recipient of the Right Livelihood Award (known popularly as the “Alternative Nobel Prize”) and Chairperson of a nonprofit entity called “Think City a community- centered platform for advancing the UNESCO World Heritage site in Penang which has worked in close collaboration with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.
“Mediation has to enter its next phase of Development” - International Cross Cultural specialist Dr. Mohamed Keshavjee tells the UN
L to R Sree Harry Nadarajah, Chairman of the Gandhi Memorial Trust of Malaysia, Mohamed Keshavjee, Dato Anwar Fazal, UN Resident Coordinator Stefan Preisner and S Radhakrishnan Trustee and Chairman of the function. Photo credit: Parvaiz Machiwala
Dr Keshavjee, recipient of the 2016 Gandhi, King, Ikeda Peace Award, is also a trustee of the Darwin International Institute for the Study of Compassion(DIISC), an organization committed to producing the future Darwin scholars of Compassion. The DIISC has partnered with some 16 academic institutions in the UK USA and Canada and is now developing new partnerships with universities in Bangladesh, Malaysia, Pakistan, India and Central Asia with a hub in Asia to explore new ways of embracing the concept of compassion in the teaching of various disciplines through a multidisciplinary approach. The family of Charles Darwin the great evolutionary biologist who worked at the University of Shropshire have lent their support to this global endeavor with his great, great, granddaughter, the well known poet Ruth Padel, acting as patron of the Board Of Trustees.
“ Alternative Dispute Resolution” Keshavjee said “ to give more than a litigated settlement, has to provide the means to be a transformative experience and for this, we need to draw from a number of sources , not least of which are the principles of our respective faiths. They provide the moral compass for healing to take place”
“We are here today to recognize the great work of the Ismaili Muslims’ Conciliation and Arbitration Board. The arbitration and mediation program you have developed is remarkable, and many good things have come about as a result of your ability to resolve disputes in your community.”
From remarks by Hon. Carol Hunstein, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia, at the National Conciliation and Arbitration Board luncheon, Atlanta, May 4, 2012
In 1986, Mawlana Hazar Imam established the Aga Khan Conciliation and Arbitration Board for the United States of America (CAB USA) to provide pro bono community-based mediations to members of the Ismaili community. In the ensuing decades, CAB USA has mediated hundreds of matrimonial, familial, and commercial matters. In so doing, it continues the Islamic traditions of consultation and collaboration that are not historically at the forefront of Western dispute resolution.
Mediation in the Islamic context views each dispute from a longer-term perspective. In addition to attaining a resolution for the immediate conflict at hand, CAB USA mediators recognize the benefits of resolving disputes peacefully; of fostering relational, familial, and community harmony; and of restorative healing. These principles, when put into action, enable impacted individuals to come to terms with the emotional trauma and resentment that is inevitably created by a dispute, and to return to constructive, healthy lives post-mediation.
Today, in its fourth decade, CAB USA flourishes. It assists not only members of the Ismaili community but reaches beyond, and engages in shared learnings with the larger legal and Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) communities in the United States.
Peaceful resolution of conflicts and the celebration of Mediation Week
In recent years, the approach to conflict resolution has shifted from a traditional “facilitative” approach to a more “transformative” approach, which focuses on empowering disputants to interact with one another by better understanding and recognising each other’s needs and interests.
Mediation Week is recognised in countries around the world every October to highlight the value of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as a constructive and cost-effective alternative to litigation. To mark the occasion, the Aga Khan International Conciliation and Arbitration Board (ICAB) have prepared a series of articles to share their insights. On day one, we look at the ethical underpinnings and best practice in the field of mediation and dispute resolution.
It is often said that the journey is more important than the destination. The same applies to resolving conflicts. Yes, having a successful resolution to a dispute is the goal, but the journey of understanding another person’s perspective with empathy, and when necessary, offering forgiveness, is also important because the journey allows people to understand the “what, why, and how” of the issue and thus strengthen the foundation of a more peaceful relationship moving forward.
Conflicts are generally resolved through various alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes. These include negotiation, mediation, conciliation, and arbitration. While there are differences between each type of ADR process, the shared principles that make each process an effective alternative to litigation include voluntariness, confidentiality, non-judgment, and the neutrality and impartiality of the mediator/arbitrator. The mediation process followed by the Aga Khan Conciliation and Arbitration Boards within the Ismaili community is also underpinned by the ethical principles of Islam, which are referenced in the Qur’an, the traditions of Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him and his family) and the sayings of Hazrat Ali. These ethical principles include brotherhood, compassion, equity, justice, forgiveness, and kindness.
“If two parties of the believers fight, put things right between them; then, if one of them does wrong against the other, fight the insolent one till it reverts to Allah’s commandment. If it reverts, set things right between them equitably, and be just. Surely, Allah loves the just. The believers are indeed brothers: so set things right between your two brothers, and fear Allah; haply so you will find mercy.” [Qur’an, Sura 49, Ayat 9]
Furthermore, the Qu’ran encourages disputes to be resolved within the community:
“If you fear a breach between them two (husband and wife), appoint (two) arbiters, one from his family, and the other from hers; if they wish for peace, Allah will cause their conciliation: For Allah has full knowledge, and is acquainted with all things.” [Qur’an, Sura 35, Ayat 4]
The peaceful resolution of disputes within the community is of utmost importance, as recalled in the following saying of Hazrat Ali:
“Do not separate yourself from your brother unless you have exhausted every approach in trying to put things right with him... Do not be harsh with your brother out of suspicion, and do not separate from him without first having tried to reason with him... Seek reconciliation with your brother, even if he throws dust at you.
Today, more research is being done to find ways to better resolve conflicts in a peaceful manner. For example, in recent years, the approach to conflict resolution has shifted from a traditional “facilitative” approach to a more “transformative” approach, which focuses on empowering disputants to interact with one another by better understanding and recognising each other’s needs and interests. This helps foster and promote a stronger and more peaceful relationship post-dispute.
Many organisations around the world are also making a commitment to promote peaceful conflict resolution through dialogue and understanding by raising awareness of mediation, and encouraging the use of ADR systems as a way to resolve disputes in an amicable manner. It is during this time that many organisations gather to share knowledge and best practice in the field of mediation and dispute resolution.
As we continue to recognise Mediation Week, ICAB have prepared a series of articles to share their insights on the following subjects:
The art of listening: Can you hear me now?
Becoming conscious of your unconscious bias
Revenge or Restore - Effective conflict resolution.
The power of apology and forgiveness in conflict resolution.
Teaching children the skills to resolve conflicts.
For more information on the Conciliation and Arbitration Boards, please visit the.ismaili/CAB.
Shan Momin is the Executive Officer for the Aga Khan International Conciliation and Arbitration Board and a Certified Mediation Trainer. He is also a trained lawyer with experience representing clients in private practice and has served as legal counsel for the largest government agency in the state of Georgia (USA).
The National Conciliation and Arbitration Board for the United Kingdom invites the Jamat to celebrate Conflict Resolution Day 2018 by attending an evening discussion on the "Tradition of Mediation in Islam".
Conflict Resolution Day will be celebrated on Thursday, October 18, 2018. This day was conceived by the Association for Conflict Resolution in 2005 and is celebrated globally in October every year. The day promotes awareness of mediation, conciliation, arbitration and other peaceful means of resolving conflict.
To celebrate Conflict Resolution Day this year, the National Conciliation and Arbitration Board for the United Kingdom is pleased to host an evening discussion on the "Tradition of Mediation in Islam: Achieving fair and equitable resolutions". The discussions will explore the historical context to mediation and conciliation within Islam and how it has evolved over centuries since the revelation of the Holy Quran to the present day Conciliation and Arbitration Boards.
The event will include presentations by the following speakers:
Dr. Omar Ali-de-Unzaga, Deputy Head of Department of Academic Research and Publications, The Institute of Ismaili Studies
Dr. Nuha Al-Sha'ar, Senior Research Associate, The Institute of Ismaili Studies
Mr. Mahmood Ahmed, Chairman, Aga Khan Foundation UK National Committee
Ms. Shainool Kassam, Member, Aga Khan International Conciliation and Arbitration Board
Dr. Yasmin Dhanji, Chairman, Aga Khan National Conciliation and Arbitration Board for the UK
An interactive panel discussion will follow.
The event will be held as follows:
Venue: Social Hall, Ismaili Centre London
Date: Thursday, October 18, 2018
Time: 7:45 PM to 8:15 PM
To register, please email firstname.lastname@example.org (link sends e-mail).
By allowing people to tell their story and listening to them properly, we validate them and their life experiences.
How many times have you looked at a family member or a colleague, and wondered whether they are really listening or have really understood what you just said? On day two of Mediation Week, we learn about listening to acknowledge and better understand one another.
Now can you remember the last time you had a conversation where you listened to the other person and managed to capture the essence of their experience? Imagine how that person felt when you listened to them and understood their words. It is a fundamental human need to be heard, and by listening to and understanding someone, whether in mediation or in day-to-day interactions, we are more likely to have thriving, authentic, and empathetic relationships. Sadly, the art of listening, a skill which is paramount in communicating effectively, is sometimes poorly understood in today’s society, largely because of external distractions. The advent of social media and smartphones further exacerbates the problem.
In the last few decades, social scientists have coined the phrase “active listening” as a means by which to improve our communications. Active listening is defined as not only listening to the words but understanding the message being conveyed behind the words. This includes focusing on hidden signals and emotions being conveyed by the speaker using both verbal and non-verbal communication. Verbal communication is when messages or information are communicated through words. On the other hand, non-verbal communication is a mode of expression that does not rely on words. Examples include body language, facial expressions, vocal tone, and eye contact.
There are various levels of listening, as well as various techniques to improve listening skills. These skills can be learned, and if applied correctly, can have a tremendous impact on one’s quality of life.
There are many concepts of listening within the field of mediation, from active listening, to what is now called reflective listening, and to empathic, appreciative or dialogic listening. In essence, the goal is the same – being able to truly listen to and understand someone. Richard Salem has described empathic listening as “a way of listening and responding to another person that improves mutual understanding and trust.” We can use techniques such as reflecting, paraphrasing, summarising and acknowledging, as well as labeling emotions, all in an effort to listen to and better understand our friends, colleagues, and family members. This helps to foster trust and to build rapport in any relationship.
Your life story shapes your reality and experience. When it comes to conflicts, a person’s story tends to influence why the conflict has occurred in the first place. It also influences their approach to resolution and how, and to what extent, they “show up” at the mediation table and, in a broader sense, how they “show up” in the world. Being given the opportunity to share their story at the mediation table enables people to listen to themselves for the first time, to understand themselves in relation to their own experience, and to be heard.
By allowing people to tell their story and listening to them properly, we validate them and their life experiences. We acknowledge them as people. We acknowledge their pain and their experience as real. Sometimes, this itself is enough. Though we may look for a “solution” and be focused on this, mediation is not just about finding a solution, it is also about understanding the problem. Many times, problems fall away after they have been expressed, heard, and acknowledged.
There are a few things we can do on a daily basis to improve the way we listen and allow others to be heard:
Face the speaker
Maintain eye contact
Be attentive but relaxed
Reflect, paraphrase, and summarise
Ask appropriate questions, ideally open-ended and clarifying questions
Be aware of verbal and non-verbal cues
Avoid unsolicited advice and solutions
Listening truly is an art and if we all put more effort into listening and understanding in our daily lives, we are more likely to have thriving, authentic, and empathetic relationships.
Jenna Bata is a Certified Mediation Trainer for the Aga Khan International Conciliation and Arbitration Board. She has a background in law, business and legal practice, has extensive commercial experience in the Middle East, and specialises in cross-border/cross-culture dispute resolution.
Ashraf Ramji is a Certified Mediation Trainer for the Aga Khan International Conciliation and Arbitration Board. He is a trained lawyer with over 25 years of experience representing clients in private practice. He is also a former Chairman for the National Conciliation and Arbitration Board for the United States of America and is the recipient of the Association for Conflict Resolution’s Lifetime Achievement Award in the field of mediation and training.
Do you ever wonder why we think it’s important to make a good first impression? Or why we are drawn to like-minded people? The answer lies in the role of unconscious bias and how quickly we make judgments about each other. On day three of Mediation Week, we find out how to recognise and counter hidden biases.
Howard Ross, author of Everyday Bias: Identifying and Navigating Unconscious Judgment in Our Daily Lives, defines unconscious bias as “mental associations without awareness, intention, or control.” Our unconscious biases can, and regularly do, conflict with our conscious opinions. Ross adds that “These (unconscious biases) often conflict with our conscious attitudes, behaviors, and intentions.”
On the other hand, conscious bias or prejudice refers to attitudes and beliefs that we have of people or groups of people, at a more aware, conscious level.
So while prejudice is largely under a person’s conscious control, unconscious, or hidden bias is not. We are not aware of our own hidden bias. Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald, authors of Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, tell us that hidden biases are lightening-quick decisions drawn from one’s assumptions and experiences that may also be based on misguided generalisations. Therefore, it is essential to understand that while unconscious bias is hidden, it nevertheless exists and may go against what you believe consciously.
How then, do we address the matter of hidden bias? The first step is to accept that we all have unconscious bias. As with any change in behaviour, self-awareness and acceptance is critical. You can be aware of your own biases by simply paying very close attention to the feelings that come up for you in relation to people that you interact with. Change can only come from a place of awareness, so it is important that you are honest with yourself. This takes courage. The motivation can come from knowing that sometimes you may have a positive impact on another person’s life. The more self-aware you are about the types of hidden biases you may hold, the more you will begin to overcome them.
Once we have identified our biases, we must be willing to confront these patterns in our interpersonal relations. This is where emotional intelligence can help. “Emotional intelligence” is a term coined by researchers Peter Salovey and John Mayer, popularised by Dan Goleman, and refers to the ability to recognise, understand, and manage our own emotions as well as those of others.
One best practice that uses emotional intelligence comes from Cook Ross, a firm specialising in helping organisations address unconscious bias. They suggest taking a P-A-U-S-E to check one’s reaction as follows:
Pay attention to what is happening beneath the surface.
Acknowledge your own reactions, interpretations, and judgments.
Understand the other possible reactions, interpretations, and judgments.
Search for the most empowering, productive way forward.
Execute on the plan.
Taking a break during a conflict to examine things from another perspective can salvage the situation.
Bill Ury, co-author of Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, refers to the mental activity of “going to the balcony.” This is taking time to step away, either by going for a walk or anything that provides you with the time and space to mentally remove yourself from the conflict and then imagine looking down from a balcony at what’s happening in the dispute. From the balcony, you see different perspectives and alternatives. You can see the other’s point of view, can more easily put yourself in their shoes, and can empathise. The capacity for empathy is a powerful skill that can help us all deal with bias — whether we are building a bridge for reconciliation, resolving a dispute, or creating a foundation for a renewed relationship.
Today we live in an extremely diverse world; a world that consists of different cultures, religious beliefs, ethnicities, and thought. In explaining his thoughts on tolerance and pluralism during his Samuel L. and Elizabeth Jodidi Lecture at Harvard University in 2015, Mawlana Hazar Imam spoke of the notion of a “cosmopolitan ethic” and “cosmopolitan society.”
“A pluralist, cosmopolitan society is a society which not only accepts difference, but actively seeks to understand it and to learn from it. In this perspective, diversity is not a burden to be endured, but an opportunity to be welcomed,” Hazar Imam said. He added that a “cosmopolitan society regards the distinctive threads of our particular identities as elements that bring beauty to the larger social fabric. A cosmopolitan ethic accepts our ultimate moral responsibility to the whole of humanity, rather than absolutising a presumably exceptional part.”
Let us continue to use our diversity as strength and live the beauty of pluralism by better understanding ourselves and each other.
Sheila Aly is a Certified Mediation Trainer for the Aga Khan International Conciliation and Arbitration Board. She is also a Barrister with a legal career spanning over 13 years, along with serving as a coach and mentor in the United Kingdom.
Aneez Khanani is a Certified Mediation Trainer for the Aga Khan International Conciliation and Arbitration Board. She is also a mediator and communications strategist with over 20 years of providing advice and counsel to leaders and executive decision-makers in corporate and government organisations in Canada.
The CAB system goes beyond just resolving disputes, and focuses in a broader sense on restoring harmony and unity in relationships.
As a faith community, we are guided by ethical principles that bind us together regardless of our different cultures, experiences, and expectations. These include compassion, kindness, integrity, dignity, and honesty. On day four of Mediation Week, we explore how these principles can apply in restoring peace in our relationships.
Mediation provides an ideal environment for an honest dialogue that can lead to apology and forgiveness.
At its essence, forgiveness provides an opportunity to create a new story. While it does not negate accountability, it can in fact empower individuals. On day five of Mediation Week, we learn about apology and forgiveness in conflict resolution.
Teaching children to deal with disputes from a young age, can equip them to deal with conflict in a positive and respectful manner later in life.
Events that occur in childhood can shape how individuals deal with situations throughout their lives. On the final day of Mediation Week, we explore why it is important for children and young adults to develop peace-keeping skills, in order to grow into empathetic and ethical leaders of the future.
Conciliation and Arbitration Board’s Mediators’ Forum
The Aga Khan Conciliation and Arbitration Board (CAB) welcomed mediators and peacemakers to participate in a Mediators’ Forum at the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center, Houston, on Tuesday, October 23, 2018. Similar fora were held at Glenview and Atlanta Jamatkhanas.
CAB is a mediation body that helps to handle disputes through volunteers with formal mediation training. CAB’s mediation week consisted of a series of panel discussions and roundtable exchanges for a shared understanding of best practices.
Opening remarks at the forum were provided by Faisal Charania, VP and Associate General Counsel at Prime Communication, followed by Rehan Alimohammad, a partner at Wong Fleming, who spoke about the role of mediation and peacebuilding in the local community and highlighted the need for dialogue at all times.
Next, Judge Kamran Jiwani highlighted two key areas relevant to mediation — the role of pluralism and the need to recognize bias. To define pluralism, Judge Jiwani used an excerpt from a speech given by Mawlana Hazar Imam in Ottawa, Canada on November 15, 2017: “It (pluralism) does not mean that we want to eliminate our differences or erase our distinctions, what it does mean is that we connect with one another in order to learn from one another and to build our future together.”
Judge Jiwani summarized CAB’s purpose and how the platform offers value. He said, “Here in the USA, we mediate 150 cases per year using 54 volunteer mediators across the country. All our mediators across the globe are trained in a standardized 40 hours residential program, and all CAB mediations are pro bono.” Judge Jiwani’s session included a brief presentation on the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s gender-biased selection procedure which was eliminated using “blind auditions.”
Lori Laconta, Adjunct Professor of Business Management and Alternative Dispute Resolution trainer, moderated a panel during the forum, where panelists and experts discussed the concept of innovative practices in mediation, how to embrace pluralism, and how to recognize and overcome bias.
Panelists included Celina Shariff, Principal at Vertex Healthcare Management; Dr. Barbara Manousso, Head of Manousso Mediation and Arbitration, LLC; Melissa Back McAlpine, President at Back to Yes Mediation LLC; and Debra Berman, Director of the Frank Evans Center for Conflict Resolution. The panelists share a common thread of extensive experience in the field of mediation. In 2010, Dr. Manousso served as President of the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) Houston Chapter and is currently a board member.
Attendees were able to share knowledge on the Alternative Resolution field and gain insight into the role of CAB as a community-based mediation organization. During the roundtable session, experts shared various ideas through their panel discussions to address inherent challenges in the mediation process, engagement of participants, use of surveys, and solutions on how to encourage further joint sessions.
Video: The Ismaili International Conciliation and Arbitration Boards
Mediation Week is recognised in countries around the world every October to highlight the value of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as a constructive and cost-effective alternative to litigation. This year, the Ismaili International Conciliation and Arbitration Board (ICAB) have prepared a series of videos that provide information about mediation and the CAB system, as well as other areas of mediation and conflict management. On day one of Mediation Week, we learn about the CAB system and its role in helping to improve the quality of life of members of the Jamat and beyond.
Have you considered mediation? Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process in which a neutral third-party assists disputing parties to reach their own settlement. On day two of Mediation Week, we learn about mediation and how it can help to resolve a dispute in a peaceful and cost-effective manner.
Confidentiality is the foundation of the mediation process. But, what does it mean, and what information is considered to be confidential? On day three of Mediation Week, we learn about the role of confidentiality and why it is important to the mediation process.
We often hear of the need to employ best practice in our daily lives, not least when serving the community. On day four of Mediation Week, we learn about the type of training that Conciliation and Arbitration Board (CAB) members receive, and how CABs use best practice in their training to assist parties with resolving disputes.
Video: The power of listening and the role of empathy in mediation
Effective listening can be powerful. It demonstrates empathy, understanding, compassion, and most importantly, it shows care for what someone is saying. Active listening is not only a vital skill to help manage conflict, it can also help to improve our day-to-day interactions. On day five of Mediation Week, we explore the power of effective listening and the role of empathy in mediation.
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