"Talk to "Them"? No Way!" : models of dispute settlement in multicultural urban societies

Büttner, Christian ; Kronenberger, Elke ; Stahl, Elisabeth


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URL http://edoc.vifapol.de/opus/volltexte/2008/283/
Dokumentart: Bericht / Forschungsbericht / Abhandlung
Institut: HSFK-Hessische Stiftung Friedens- und Konfliktforschung
Schriftenreihe: PRIF reports
Bandnummer: 49
Sprache: Englisch
Erstellungsjahr: 1998
Publikationsdatum: 30.01.2008
DDC-Sachgruppe: Politik
BK - Basisklassifikation: 89.76 (Friedensforschung, Konfliktforschung)
Sondersammelgebiete: 3.6 Politik und Friedensforschung

Kurzfassung auf Englisch:

The arrival of immigrants from the most diverse countries and cultural areas is gradually changing the face of Western-style urban societies. For administrative authorities in particular, immigration is continually creating new situations and problems for which, in many cases, no regulations exist. One particular case in which traditional local-government structures find themselves no longer able to respond is that of conflict in intercultural relations. Traditional conflict resolution on the Western model is based on the notion of a set of democratic values and institutional structures that have grown up organically. Conflicts are conventionally tackled using formal measures based on regulatory or police law. When it comes to problems in intercultural co-existence, these kinds of methods do not always produce the desired result. Models of mediation in which neutral third parties attempt to put the task of dealing with a conflict into the hands of those involved in it would seem, according to experiences in various American communities, to promise a way out of this dilemma. With them, it is possible to avoid traditional mediation and arbitration channels. Communities in numerous cities all over the world have already had positive experiences with 'community mediation' using methods of 'constructive conflict management' such as mediation and Harvard-style negotiation. In Germany too, a number of experiments based on the 'mediation' model have now been initiated, at both local-community and personal level, as a means of dealing with conflict in schools and out on the streets. Attempts have even been made – albeit so far with only sporadic success – to apply the process to more complex conflicts relating to ecological problems. The local-community dispute-settlement models developed in the USA formed the startingpoint for an EU pilot project on 'Community Mediation' devised by the City of Frankfurt and directed by its Office for Multicultural Affairs. The preconditions, evolution, and current structure of the project are described in this report, and the scheme is illustrated with examples from practical mediation work in various districts of the city. This scheme cannot, of course, be used for mediation in conflicts that have socio-structural bases, or relate to political or civil-law disputes, or in some way touch on situations involving criminal offences. The mediation procedure has shown itself to be one amongst several options for constructive conflict resolution. In addition to straightforward mediation work, there are a number of approaches to achieving a de-escalatory effect in conflictual processes. These range from acceptance of the co-disputants, for whom this is often the first experience of having their concerns taken seriously, down to basic, non-bureaucratic help with getting through the 'paper jungle'. The Frankfurt experience indicates that the following preconditions are of crucial importance: when a local authority assumes responsibility for conflicts in line with to the 'community mediation' model, a relevant post must be created that is independent enough to be able to effect II mediation amongst citizens and also the traditional local-government bodies involved. There must be qualified personnel to act as moderators for the mediation – beginning with the provision of professional-standard training and continuing with organizational back-up during the mediation itself, up to the conclusion of the dispute. And finally, provision must be made for qualified supervision or inter-colleague consultation which will allow ongoing reflection on the mediation process and make the internal networking of all the staff involved in the mediation into a model for the networking of local resources with the city authorities and private initiatives.

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