Aissam Oukerroum, Programs Assistant
Meryeme Lakhal, CJFD Student Clinician
On December 26, 2020, the Legal Aid Clinic (CFJD) housed in the Faculty of Social, Juridical, and Economic Legal Studies at University Sidi Mohamed Ben Adbellah (FSJES-USMBA) in Fes organized training focusing on the theme of conflict resolution and mediation. This session was presented by Dr. Hassan Rahia for the second cohort of law students participating in a training program to become practitioners of legal aid.
This training was an opportunity for Dr. Hassan Rahia to develop and discuss with the participants the skills necessary in order to successfully communicate with clients who come to the clinic seeking help with conflicts. Dr. Rahia also discussed the importance of communication and dialogue — a lack of which is one of the greatest factors that leads to the majority of conflicts. He also touched on the importance of the consideration of various perspectives when attempting to resolve a conflict.
Principles of Conflict Resolution and Mediation
The group discussed the fact that conflicts can have both positive and negative effects. Participants highlighted some of the benefits that come about as a result of a conflict, such as an increased dialogue between people as well as an increased ability to solve problems. Dr. Rahiya explained the importance of acknowledging that conflicts are an integral part of daily life, and that it is normal for them to occur. He explained that the problem is not when a conflict occurs, but when people are unable to find a solution.
Dr. Rahiya explored various conflict resolution strategies with the group as well, which will prepare the students when facilitating mediation with clients who are struggling with a family conflict, for example. These include prevention, ignorance, avoidance, arbitration, and litigation. The group focused on the structured process of mediation, which involves a third party who is characterized by neutrality, independence, and integrity. Dr. Rahiya also highlighted the difference between mediation and litigation — litigation being a process that focuses on situations while mediation focuses on interests.
Litigation is known to be more expensive and take a longer time than mediation. Mediation is also based on confidentiality and finding a win-win solution, thus posing a lower risk to both parties. With litigation, the outcome often results in someone winning and another losing based on the decision of a third party. This is why mediation is considered the most effective tool to resolve conflicts.
A Good Mediator
There are several characteristics that are important in a good mediator. An effective mediator must be accepted by the conflicting parties, first and foremost. It is also important to be reliable and patient. Confidentiality is also of the utmost importance when dealing with sensitive matters that come up in mediation. The group explored the various types of mediation including family, school, social, commercial/financial, institutional, and political.
Dr. Rahiya also went over on the potential negative results of conflicts which are important to be aware of such as toxic relationships, discrimination, or even violence. At the end of the training, the students participated in interactive exercise where they were engaged in simulation scenarios to put what they have learned into practice.
The Legal Aid Clinic in Fes
These sessions were one of several trainings organized by the High Atlas Foundation that is designed to prepare students to become practitioners of pro bono legal aid to people in vulnerable situations in the Fes-Meknes region. Students have also received training on topics including but not limited to migration, asylum, and participatory communication.
Learn more about how you can support the efforts of the Legal Aid Clinic here.
The High Atlas Foundation is working in partnership with the Faculty of Economic and Social Legal Sciences at the University Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah (USMBA) in Fes to operate and grow a Law Clinic and Legal Aid program which actively engages students in experiential and service learning for the benefit of marginalized communities in the Fes-Meknes region. The project is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI).