JIS News

Chief Executive Officer of the Dispute Resolution Foundation (DRF), Donna Parchment-Brown, says that the celebration of the National Year of Dispute Resolution, should create the basis for a reduction in conflicts this year.
“A National Year of Dispute Resolution gives us, as Jamaicans, a broad area of opportunity to reflect on our capacity as individuals to engage together to resolve the problems that face us,” Miss Parchment-Brown told JIS News.
“Here is a period when Jamaicans might make a paradigm shift, a shift towards ownership of our problems, and a shift for early action to prevent escalating conflicts,” she added.
She was referring to the fact that earlier this year, former Governor-General, Sir Kenneth Hall, issued a proclamation declaring 2009 as the National Year of Dispute Resolution.
The proclamation called for persons to give support to the work of the DRF, to achieve accommodative and non-violent relationships between citizens, corporations and other organizations within a democratic and restorative justice framework.
It suggests that this could be done by strengthening and expanding the use of mediation, and other alternative, effective methods of preventing and resolving disputes in Jamaica and the region, benefiting the citizens, communities and the country.
She said that the period should encourage individuals and communities, even in cases of commercial disputes like trying to sell a property, that it is appropriate, at some time, to come to mediation in a structured way, work out the problem and move forward.
Under Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), the Foundation has mitigated scores of commercial disputes, resulting in less legal fees for the parties involved. ADR enables parties in a dispute to, collaboratively, arrive at timely, cost effective justice, outside of the courtroom.
Through mediation, both the claimant and the respondent can sit and discuss the matter in a neutral setting mediated by a trained and certified,objective third party. Both sides of the story can be told, allowing for discussions that would not have been possible in a formal court setting.
Both parties work together through this medium to arrive at their own justice.
“In the mediation you get the best of both worlds: you minimise escalations of conflict, you minimise cost and you take control of the conflict. It is under the cover of the Courts, so whatever you agree to is enforceable by the Courts,” she pointed out.
A number of activities will mark the National Year of Dispute Resolution. They include: a youth conference; a workshop for sports leaders to be held in March; a parish centre visit in April; schools competition judging; awards conference for judges, mediators, attorneys and arbitrators; and a gala awards function in July. Activities will continue to December.
There are centres in St. James, Hanover, St. Mary and St. Catherine, as well as Trench Town, Kingston. Any community interested in the process can visit the local centre, or call the corporate office to be linked to the appropriate person to support the effort.Prime Minister Bruce Golding has given his assent to the process.
“We are trying to get communities to manage their own affairs and resolve their own disputes, before it becomes matters of the state. It is a new deal that we have to make with these communities,” he said while addressing a recent Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Third Forum on Violence Prevention and Citizen Security, at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston.
Mrs. Parchment-Brown asserts that Jamaica stands to benefit from an expansion in conflicts being resolved by efforts built around trust, and with discussions with trained mediators, many of whom have been trained by the DRF.
“We hope that by doing this work, we will encourage people to understand that we can work out disputes by the use of negotiation, facilitated discussion, mediation, arbitration. We can transform conflicts, by using a space where everybody has the ability to express their concerns and build consensus towards action,” she emphasizes.

Skip to content