International Mediators Community of Practice

Is Mediation a Profession or a Skill?

While conflict is present all over the world, job opportunities as mediators working overseas seem to be quite rare. During this Peer-2-peer consultation, participants agreed that mediation in the field of international conflict management is not a profession yet but a useful skill to have.

One reason may be that engaging in mediation requires a diverse background with a large toolbox of skills in addition to the ability of managing a dialogue process between contentious parties, and therefore may not be the primary “job title” one may hold.

Because it is a complementary skill to so many other professions, to create a broader employment space, mediators should train individuals in other fields such as the education field, law, restorative justice, and/or people in the military. Taking a mediation skills course is often what shifts your understanding about the potential of collaborative problem-solving and dialogue processes using third-parties. Most professionals face conflict in the workplace and these communication skills can be quite useful even if you’ll never mediate.

Other strategies for increasing the demand for mediation would be to train State Department, USAID and DOD officers to increase awareness about this tool, which would then likely increase funding for such projects.

Suggestions made by participants about professionalizing the field included developing internationally agreed upon standards with some sort of certification process. Uniform national standards do not exist in the US. The UN has guidance for effective mediation and organizations such as the International Mediation Institute (IMI) provide a certification process for international mediation. However, many countries have their own standards for qualifying mediators.

Demonstrating the cost-effectiveness of mediation was also suggested