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Letting influential people help parties to take decisions

Influential people can help parties to grow towards a decision, therefore convincing these people to participate is important

What challenges does it focus on?

Convince people to help as third party. By talking to the parties and advising them.

Short summary

Influential people can help parties to grow towards a decision. Or to understand and accept why a certain solution is good. They can also confirm that the community will accept and understand this solution. After you have identified one or more influential people, you need to convince them to participate.

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Facilitators have described the following practices:

Approaching the third party:

  • Explain your role as a facilitator.
  • Explain why you think they can help the parties
  • Encourage the influential party by making them feel proud if they can contribute to a neutral and fair solution. Explore with them whether this will earn a good reputation, respect from villagers and especially from the parties to conflict

Explore the role that they can take, such as:

  • Speak to one or both of the parties privately (be sure no unfair influencing will take place).
  • Support them in exploring possible solutions and coming to a decision.
  • Confirm and support the value of coming to a solution.
  • Ensure them that the process and the expected outcome will be fair.
  • Give advice on a solution.
  • Use a particular topic for a sermon (if they are a religious leader).
  • Write privately to the parties
  • Write a public statement

Research evidence

Evidence from practice

  • Abunzi courts; each party selects 2 judges from a list of 15, the two selected judges choose a third to complete the panel
  • Head master; The headmaster of a school in Kibera often is contacted when someone has a conflict. In one case, he was contacted by the mother of one of his students. She had been kicked out of the house and was not allowed to see her children anymore. The headmaster summoned the father over and tried to convince him into acting fairly. He refused. When the father kept on refusing, the head master threatened to expell the daughter from school. Be aware: he only threatened and never was planning on actually doing so. But the father did not want to risk this, and from then on acted more constructively to come to fair terms. He experienced pressure because he did not want to be known as a father who was so stubborn, he got his daughter expelled from school.

Evidence from handbooks

  • A Full Court is called when mediation has failed or someone has broken a law of the Village Court Area
  • There must always be an odd number of Magistrates sitting and a minimum of three in a Full Court
  • The Clerk and Peace Officers should be in attendance
  • Generally, the court should not hear a matter unless both of the parties are present
  • Everyone involved should be given the opportunity to speak

Village Court Manual Papua New Guinea 2003

Evidence from literature

The intervention of third parties has been shown to reduce the stress experienced in a work conflicts. This is particularly true where the role taken is one with process control (being able to manage how the dispute is solved) rather than arbitration:

Glebels, E., & Janssen, O. (2005). Conflict Stress and Reduced Wellbeing at Work: The Buffering Effect of Third-Party Help. European Journal of Work and Organisational Psychology, 14(2), pp137-155

Involving families in conflicts can help reach solutions to problems.

Umbreit, M. Z., H. (1996). "Restorative Family Group Conferences; Differing Models and Guidelines for Practice." Federal Probation 60(24): 24-29

Group decision making can improve communication and acceptance of decisions

Randy Y. Hirokawa And Marshall Scott Poole, Eds.,Communication and Group Decision Making. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Pub., 1996, 488 pp.

Best practices