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Criteria for being a facilitator

Dispute resolution facilitators face a complex tasks. Therefore they need excellent communication skills, a basis knowledge of dispute resolution and respect for all parties involved.

What challenges does it focus on?

Identify and select people that are good dispute resolution facilitators

Short summary

Practice has shown that a facilitator has a complex role to play, combining many skills and abilities. Anybody can be a facilitator, provided they have certain attributes:

  • Respect for all people
  • Respected by the people in the community
  • Trust of the Parties
  • Can communicate with people (both in terms of language and communications skills)
  • Holds good values (those values which are respected by the community)
  • Has no conflicting interests
  • Has dispute resolution skills
  • Is motivated to find a solution
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Facilitators can be found in all walks of life, including within conflicting families, respected community members, village chiefs or elected local officials. As long as they are willing and have the above qualities, they can be an excellent facilitator. Some organizations have the following criteria they use for selection of facilitators:

  • Have a good social standing (often somewhat older people qualify for this)
  • Have a good reputation
  • Is seen as a neutral person
  • Elected from and by the community

Facilitators can sometimes be locally organised. Providing a clear and easy request for facilitation can help people to access this service.

What level of evidence is it based on?

This is the level of evidence, on a glidingscale

glidingscale_promising glidingscale_tested glidingscale_validated

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Research evidence

Evidence from practice

Family members: In Egypt, family elders, called kebirs, often take on the role of facilitator and they solve many conflicts. Also the practitioners of KBH Lampung also have positive experiences with family conferencing as a tool to mediate disputes. Respected people in the community: Many disputes resolution providers in all the countries are highly respected people in the community with a good reputation and high integrity. Choose someone with the right characteristics: In Egypt facilitators of Cewla describe a good facilitator as someone who speaks the language of the people, depending on the situation, who has sufficient respect and who has good values. Neutral facilitators: As an alternative to kebirs and respected people in the community, neutral facilitators with good skills and knowledge can make provide dispute resolution services in the community. Paralegals in Mali and Rwanda, the staff of Cewla in Egypt all offer neutral facilitation. In Cambodia each CRDC consists 7 members. Each of the parties can select one member and together with the cdrc secretary they will mediate the dispute. Elected people: In Cambodia, the CDRDC members and in Rwanda the local informal judges, called Abunzi, are elected by the community to play that role. Challenges: In Egypt concerns are raised about the quality of traditional dispute resolution by family members. Often elderly men have the role of mediator. Many of them have conservative morals towards the rights of women. In Rwanda people criticise the traditional Abunzi system for not acting in accordance with the law and stated that as a result the Abunzi can not provide a good service.

Evidence from handbooks
Criteria for a good facilitator:

  • Qualification
  • Expertise
  • No conflicting interests
  • Experience
  • Approach to mediation

Schonewille Toolkit Mediation 2009

Evidence from literature

In some cultures it is more important that the mediator is connected to the parties, then that the mediator has great skills to guide parties effectively towards a solution. Nonverbal communications, cultural nuances, and the intuition of the mediator in relation to his/her knowledge of parties is of crucial importance. Co-mediation can be used to get the best of both worlds (or, of course, a different dimension of authority) to the proceedings.
Connectedness and Authority, in Mediation, Christopher Honeyman, Bee Chen Goh,and Loretta Kelly, p. 502


In many cases people are more satisfied by a service offered by people who understand and can explain the law.
Reforming the People's mediation System in urban China, Aaron Haelgua, 2005

Best practices