Labour and Co-operative Member of Parliament for Kemptown and Peacehaven

Introducing the Mediation Iceberg and simulation week 8

by Lloyd on 24.11.09

Well The idea which was introduced in week 8 and also is outlined in the Conflict resolution toolbox (GT Furlong, P 76) shows how we see conflicts at the surface level but underneath the water line ( the line of sight and ease of passage in the mediation process) there is larger hurdles and things that can sink us!

TO understand this we should take U (the direction of travel from the top of the iceberg) In taking this we need to explore and challenge more fundamental things of identity, who we are and our modus-operandi (our identity and our values) Although there are some values that need to be challenged at the start with common values being established. Many of these values can be portrayed in need wants and interested. They are turned in to emotions and often expressed non-rationally.

I have been in situations many time where people have said they don’t like things – that it doesn’t “feel” right – I think that many of us have! For example: in the LGBT community there is often a debate about the use of the name queer as posed to LGBT and other terms. The argument often boils down to ” I dont like the sound of Queer or LGBT is just not “attractive enough”. These emotions are linked to deeper rooted values that people struggle to express and are sometime afraid to express.

That is why the U process requires empowerment of the individual and recognition of their issue, only when that recognition is granted will people be able and wiling to delve under the water line to their basic identity and values and then be willing to re-amerge with common solutions to problems that respect their values.


The simulation invoked two parties, the chairman of the local peace committee and an international “peace” maker who has a UN mandate to monitor elections and help with the restoration of “democracy” in the transition of peace.

The simulation tryed to deal with some of the serface issues while there being deeper issues of trust and identiy attached to the meeting.

Did the facilitators/mediators succeed at using this model for non directive mediation – well I think they were broadly non-directive but thought many of our simulations we have been unable to or unwilling to push deeper for fear of getting it wrong.

As part of the non-directive process we where reminded:
Internal weakness to empowerment
self absorption to recognition
They should focus the trying to achieve the following points:
* Separate the problem from the person
* Work towards a win win situation
* Recognition of each party’s truth
* Everyone has interests and shared needs
* Generate new options
As an actor in this role play it was harder to assess from the outside how the mediation went. however I want to copy a few of my notes that I originally wrote down and then reflect back on the process as a whole and if we achieved “peace” or negotiated stale mate. (With the inherent conflicts still being there!)
Initially we agreed a way forward and hoped that we would provided some skills for the election monitoring and the securing of peace in the particular situation. On the surface it could be felt that it was a success.
As the international actor in the role play – I could feel like the reasonable one and also that the process was “on my side” to create a situation that I felt happy with. However as an international actor – having other people who will have similar training is always a difficult thing to do.
The structure employed allowed the parties to say what they wanted to the facilitators; – however the structure more generally closed up conversation – so although you would agree, I’m unclear if the process closed paths and if it delt with the substantive issue

The Promise of Mediation: Responding to Conflict Through Empowerment and Recognition (The Jossey-Bass Conflict Resolution Series)

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Labour and Co-operative Member of Parliament for Kemptown and Peacehaven

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