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Theme 6: Conciliation

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(I) Problem definition 

In Cambodia most disputes are still resolved outside of the conventional court system. If the dispute cannot be resolved by the parties concerned a trusted third party is often invited to mediate the dispute. These dispute resolution systems are not formalized and a wide range of mediation systems and parties are present. The mediators can be religious figures (respected monks), from the executive branch (from the village leader upto certain ministries), from the legislative branch (council members) or civilians (respected elders.) These mediators are not trained in the principles of mediation and the process is not defined. The outcome of the mediation process is not binding and there are no mechanisms to enforce the decision.

The Arbitration Council is one the mechanisms for alternative dispute resolution. One third of more than 1,100 cases registered at the AC have been successfully conciliated at the Arbitration Council. This means that the experience of the Arbitration Council is worth sharing with other conciliators people call on to assist with resolving differences and conflicts.

The Organic Law (May 2008) establishes systems for sub-national representation and decision making. Related to Local Dispute Resolution, the Organic Law stipulates that the Councils at Capital, Province, Municipality, District and Khan level, will take appropriate actions to solve local conflicts within its jurisdiction. Many questions related to the implementation of the Organic Law remain. A Legislative Council (LC) in the MoI has been charged by the Minister to come up with the draft Sub-Decree as soon as possible. The LC needs additional information before it can start drafting. A study (supported by DFGG) has been initiated and the TOR are currently under consideration by the council. By sharing its experiences related to conciliation, ACF should not pre-empt the conclusions of the committee currently drafting the sub-decree. The activities under this conciliation theme should be complimentary and integrated into the research currently ongoing to support the drafting of the sub-decree.

This concept note outlines how ACF could share its experience with conciliation and share it with the right actors at the grassroots level. The sharing sessions will be a useful tool for capacity building after the sub-decree is finalized and the selection of the target audience will be a supportive case study for the research framing policy recommendations for the sub-decree on sub-national dispute resolution.

(II) Expected outcome

Participants will learn universally-accepted principles and acquire knowledge in conciliation from the hands-on experience of the Arbitration Council. They are expected to improve their conciliation skills by managing their conciliation sessions more effectively and producing higher number of conciliated agreements.

Participants will able to:
• be familiar with universally-accepted principles in effective conciliation
• synthesize their conciliation experience with that of the Arbitration Council and other expertise collected from other sectors for further improvement of their conciliation skills
• refer cases for which a special ADR mechanism exists and understand the related dispute resolution process (including the work of the Arbitration Council)

(III) Target audience

In order not to pre-empt the results of the study on sub-national dispute resolution currently in preparation, ACF will adopt a method of selecting the participants that will contribute to the study. ACF will select five villages around Phnom-Penh and randomly select ten families. The families will be interviewed about the types of disputes they had over the last year, the way these disputes were resolved, the actors they invited to mediate and the quality of the process and its result. The result will be a set of fifty mini-case studies identifying types of disputes, mediators and capacity gaps.
The actors that were most consulted by the families interviewed will be invited for the learning event. The learning will focus on the subjects that are most common and on the skills that are most needed.

(IV) Outline of the learning event:
The learning event will focus on the key principles in conciliation/ mediation and on effective conciliation techniques (This covers such skills as managing conciliation/ mediation process, remaining impartial, dealing with resistance to conciliation/ mediation...) In addition subject specific information will be provided based on the result of the case studies. If domestic violence is a common dispute, ACF will seek the cooperation of experts and organizations working on these issues to develop subject specific advice. ACF will of course provide the expertise to develop a unit if labour disputes are a common conflict among interviewees.

(V) Methodology

It is suggested that a two-pronged approach be taken for this program: training and outreach.

The training methodology consists of presentations, case studies and Q&As. A user-satisfaction questionnaire will be distributed in order to evaluate the results and its success among trainees. There should be a maximum of 25 participants each training session.

Outreach component of the program is to be provided by consultants to disseminate to target audience the conciliation manual and other course materials. The number of audience will be discussed and agreed on between PCO, ACF and the consultants.

(VI) Location

Training is organised in some or all of the villages where interviews were conducted (depending on the number of mediation actors identified.) Outreach is nation-wide depending on where the target audience is.

(VII) Schedule

The training runs for one full day.

Dissemination of outreach materials should be made alongside with training program and beyond if necessary. The total coverage depends on the availability of funds.

(VIII) Trainers and outreach service providers

To ensure sustainability, a Cambodian NGO will be trained to deliver the training at the grassroots level. This NGO will be selected by the PCO.
The facilitators of the Cambodia NGO will be trained by members of the Arbitration Council and its Foundation and external conciliation experts. The NGOs will take the lead during the delivery of the training at the grassroots level but they will be supervised and supported by conciliation experts.
Outreach consultants as individuals or organisations will be procured for administrative and logistical arrangements for the training and development of training manual in consultation with the trainers. Their consultancy will also include implementation of outreach activities such as dissemination of the manual and other outreach materials to the target audience.

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