Seminars, Trainings, and Conferences

Bus 18

During the first week, part of our training was the afternoon visit to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), with the purpose, among others, of understanding better the difference mediation and arbitration. 

As indicated in the pertinent memo, from the Clingendael we would take Bus 18 of the public transport to go to The Hague Central (Den Hag Centraal), and from there we would take Bus 22 to go to the PCA. We were accompanied by two interns, Maxim and Melanie, who would serve as guides.

While we were still walking toward the Clingendael bus station along with our two guides, Damien mounted the bus which left us all! (Public bus leaves and arrives at every station at a particular time, and the driver never reopens the door once closed for departure from one station to another.)

Naturally, Maxim and Melanie were very much worried, thinking that Damien would get lost in The Hague Central, or worse still, in his way to the PCA. Since Day 1 – Orientation Day – Maxim’s favorite maxim he would share to us is this: “If you have difficult question, ask Sharon!” Sharon, by the way, is the training’s overall facilitator who had been in contact with us from the very beginning.

Under this situation wherein one of the trainees potentially gets lost in the urban jungle of The Hague during a chilling winter afternoon, Maxim had no option but to dexterously follow his own maxim. He immediately grabbed his mobile and phoned Sharon: “Hello, Sharon! Damien mounted the bus which left us. He is now alone in The Hague Central. Do you have his number? How about his Facebook account? Is there any other way to contact him?”

Trying to assure Maxim, Sofhie whom we fondly call “Mama Clingendael” or “Mama Cling” for short, said, “Don’t worry, Damien is adult enough to know his options. Either he would immediate alight at the next bus stop and wait for us, or get back to Arendsdorp and relax.” (Arendsorp Complex is our momentary detention center whose de facto warden, Mr. George, is responsible for initiating its infamous two-level sensor-operated door.)

Worried and making the wildest speculations on what would happen to Damien, we all mounted the next bus.

As the bus reached the next station, we were all happy to see Damien, shivering notwithstanding his thick winter garment, just waiting in the said station.

“Look, Damien is here!” we all exclaimed.

In spite of the gloomy winter, Maxim’s face brightened once again. So was Damien’s.

Inside the bus on our way to The Hague Central, I noticed Melanie memorizing our names, making many rehearsals therein. Since then, she has been able to memorize the names of all of us 20. I’m sure, the name “Damien” was the first registered in her mind and could not be erased even by the strong wicked storm that swept the whole Netherlands and some neighboring countries the following day.

Since then, everytime we would take Bus 18 as a group, we would simultaneously ask, “Is Damien around?”

This is one reason why we named our group “Bus 18 Batch”.

Tips:
1. To be the first is not always good.
2. Always remember that the Bus has specific time to leave and arrive at a given station.
3. While serving as tour guide to a group, never allow anyone to go ahead or be left behind without your explicit consent.

(An excerpt of my forthcoming travelogue, “HUGGING THE HAGUE: WINTER STINT AT THE NETHERLANDS INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS,” Mansoor Limba (Amazon.com, 2018.)

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On Global Rectificatory Justice

Just last Friday afternoon, I received an invitation to be a Reactor to a Lecture on ‘Global Rectificatory Justice’ to be given today by a distinguished professor. Also enclosed in the invitation was a photocopy of the 22-page chapter 1 (Introduction) of the book which the Lecturer has recently written about this topic.

As the basic idea of ‘rectificatory justice,’ when harm is perpetrated, the victim can claim redress under the moral principle of non-maleficence or ‘do-not-harm’. Building his argument for rectificatory justice around this principle, the author maintains that during the era of colonialism, colonies were harmed in different ways (interventions, war and occupations, slavery and forced labor, genocides and massacres, extermination of domestic religions and cultures, forced replacement of populations, economic dominance and exploitation, and various other kinds of human rights violations), and that individuals and peoples who were victims of these harmful acts have a right to redress.

Since I cannot physically attend the Lecture due to another commitment set earlier, let me take this platform to share my immediate observation:

‘Rectificatory’ justice is yet another ‘cool’ modifier for the word ‘justice,’ the others being ‘distributive,’ ‘compensatory,’ ‘transitional,’ and many more. As you may have no qualms in agreeing, justice is such a concept that whenever you attempt to modify it, you will definitely run the risk of delimiting and restricting its meaning. Even without modifying it, justice which essentially means “putting everything in its proper place,” distributes something, compensates something, provides a transition, and of course, rectifies something. Justice is no justice at all if it does not imply all these things.

On our way to the airport the other week, a Lebanese friend of mine was narrating his visit to selected places in Rwanda where post-conflict ‘transitory justice’ is being enforced. “As you see, we coin the term ‘transitory justice’ whenever the Authority cannot or is not willing to implement justice in the strictest sense of the word,” he told me.

Categories: Current Events, Ethics and Mysticism, International Relations, Jargons and Terminologies, Seminars, Trainings, and Conferences | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Mediating ‘Insider Mediation’

MAKATI CITY (MindaNews/4 February) – One lazy afternoon, I received an email from a friend who shared a link and asked me if I’m interested to apply for a United Nations Development Program (UNDP)-sponsored short course on negotiation and mediation as an instrument of conflict resolution being regularly conducted by a think-tank in the Netherlands.

Naturally, I said resoundingly, “Yes!” So, as it was the deadline for submission of the application, I immediately filled up the online form for about an hour and then clicked “Submit”! I was then hopeful to be accepted, but not necessarily expecting.

Two weeks after, I received an email of my application’s acceptance with much jubilation. “Back to school again,” I told myself, “and this time, in The Hague-based Clingendael Institute.”

Literally means “a valley in the dunes” and located in a 17th century manor house surrounded by a large park, Clingendael, or the Netherlands Institute of International Relations, is a leading think-tank and diplomatic academy in the world, whose primary aim is to contribute to a secure, sustainable and just world.

As a result of fusion of five smaller institutes in January 1983, Clingendael is unique for its multifunctional character of regularly conducting a host of integrated training, research, and educational consultative activities under a single roof.

Since 2015 Clingendael has been partnering with the UNDP in its initiative since 2004 to support insider mediation capacity-building in about 40 countries, by providing mediation and negotiation trainings.

Attended by 20 participants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ghana, Honduras, Indonesia, Lebanon, Libya, Malawi, Maldives, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, Thailand, and Venezuela, this fourth batch of “Negotiation and Mediation Training as an Instrument for Conflict Resolution for Insider Mediators” was a combination of interactive simulations to improve the participants’ skills and case studies to help them reflect on both the theory and practice of mediation.

In a bid to provide the trainees with an in-depth understanding of how negotiations work so as for them to effectively facilitate a negotiation as a mediator, the first week was primarily focused on negotiation training (discussions on negotiation theory, strategies and simulations), while the second week concentrated on mediation and the specific role and skills of insider mediators and their role within the UNDP framework, with particular emphasis on understanding modalities for inclusivity and ownership of the peace agenda.

The classroom training sessions were also ideally interspersed with an educational visit to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at the Peace Palace in The Hague and to Von Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

After our training session on stakeholders- and negotiators-mapping on the second week, I saw myself accompanying three fellow Southeast Asian trainees and the representative of an international non-government organization (NGO), in going to Utrecht by train to meet with Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison, NDFP senior adviser Luis Jalandoni, NDFP Peace Panel Chairman Fidel Agcaoili, and NDFP Peace Panel member Connie Ledesma, in order to listen to their narratives and concerns on the stalled negotiations with the Philippine government.

The following day, three of us trainees from the Philippines were invited at the embassy by the Philippine ambassador to the Netherlands, His Excellency Mr. Jaime Victor B. Ledda, for a casual discussion on various issues including our two-week training and the peace process with the NDF.

Listening to the two narratives, I observed that each camp has identified its own ‘culprit’ of the stalled peace process: the Philippine government’s principal (Pres. Rodrigo Duterte), or the lack of enabling environment for the peace talk.

This personal observation inevitably calls to mind the concluding remark of our trainer on conflict analysis: “Conflict analysis, therefore, is not about the conflict per se; it is rather about you; it is about your perception of the conflict!” In other words, it is not about the story, but rather your narrative of the story.

Paradoxically, after almost two weeks of training on ‘insider mediation,’ our last trainer told us, “If you are an ‘insider mediator’ then you don’t exist!” As he clarified in the open forum, the reason for this claim is that every mediator is invariably a stakeholder in the conflict he or she is mediating and that mediating is becoming a lucrative business for some ‘mediators’.

In short, it is mediating ‘insider mediation’.

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20 Spoilers

As they are released from the momentary detention at Arendsdorp Complex, 20 are added to the number of spoilers, provocateurs, rebels, and fighters in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ghana, Honduras, Indonesia, Lebanon, Libya, Malawi, Maldives, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, Thailand, and Venezuela.

These 20 spoilers identify themselves as “Bus 18 Batch”.

(An excerpt of the forthcoming travelogue, “Hugging the Hague: Winter Stint at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations,” Mansoor Limba (Amazon.com, 2018.)

 

     

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Sinbad – The Hero or the Villain?

As in other negotiation and mediation trainings, the first case introduced to us 20 trainees from 13 Asian, African and Central/South American countries is the controversial “Crocodile River Story”:

“Once there lived a woman named Abigail who was in love with a man named Greg. Greg lived on the opposite side of a crocodile-infested river. Abigail wanted to cross the river to be with Greg, but the bridge had been washed out by a heavy flood the previous week. So she went to ask Sinbad, a riverboat captain, to take her across. He said he would be glad to if she would consent to go to bed with him before the trip. She refused and went to a friend named Ivan to explain her plight. Ivan did not want to get involved at all in the situation. Abigail felt her only alternative was to accept Sinbad’s terms. After she had been to bed with him, Sinbad fulfilled his promise and delivered her across the river to Greg. When she told Greg about her amorous adventure, Greg cast her aside with disdain. Heartsick and rejected, she turned to Slug with her story. Slug, feeling compassion for her, sought out Greg and beat him brutally. Abigail was overjoyed at the sight of Greg getting his due. As the sun set on the horizon, people heard Abigail laughing at Greg.”

Each of us was instructed to rank the characters in the story from 1 (who you think is ‘best’) to 5 (who you think is ‘worst’). Then we were divided into small groups with three or four members each, and each group was asked to come up with a common ranking. Thereafter, members of each group were asked to select their group representative to negotiate with the representatives of other groups to come up with a common ranking.

I’m sure, you can now expect the outcome of the exercise:

For the subgroup where I belonged, three of us agreed on ranking Sinbad as the number 1 (‘the best’) on the basis of rational choice theory and material cost-benefit analysis, but one us firmly stood his ground of ranking Sinbad as the number 5 (‘the worst’). In the end, we failed to agree on a single ranking.

And the same disagreement was the outcome of the representatives’ long, emotionally-charged negotiation.

     

What is your take?

Is Sinbad the best, or the worst?

Tips:
1. Before negotiating with the other parties, the criterion/criteria must be clarified upon. Technically, it is called “Rules and Procedures.”
2. Nothing is agreed upon unless something is agreed upon.

(An excerpt of the forthcoming travelogue, “Hugging the Hague: Winter Stint at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations,” Mansoor Limba (Amazon.com, 2018.)

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