International Peace Mediation in Finland and Beyond
Finland is a leading provider of peace mediation services. Finland’s former president and a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Martti Ahtisaari, founded The Crisis Management Initiative (CMI) to provide top-end peace mediation services for countries in conflict. Currently, CMI is one of the world’s three largest peace mediation organizations. Ahtisaari and CMI have been praised for bringing independence to Namibia, Serbia’s withdrawal from Kosovo, and for facilitating the peace agreement between the Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement. Finland’s current president, Sauli Niinistö, is continuing this tradition by providing Finland as a venue for the resolution of international diplomatic disputes.
Although Finland is recognized for its prominent role in peace mediation, the use of mediation, in other areas, particularly business disputes, is underdeveloped. Court-annexed mediation – the only established mediation procedure in Finland used in public courts, with judges serving as mediators – is most commonly utilized to resolve family disputes and disputes between individuals. Only 0.02 % of cases dealt with by the courts in these proceedings concerned companies or foundations in 2014. Furthermore, just 20% of Finnish companies involved in disputes participated in some form of mediation or negotiation proceedings in 2014, and only 8% of these proceedings resulted in settlement.
Generally, the reason underlying the rare use of mediation in business disputes is a lack of knowledge. Lawyers address disputes, but mediation or negotiation skills are not taught in Finnish law schools. In addition, research concerning mediation and the culture of mediating disputes is underdeveloped in Finland. Until recently, mediation champions have been missing.
The vast majority of business disputes are resolved by arbitration in Finland – not in the courts. In addition, Finnish companies tend to choose arbitration over litigation in the courts because they value the non-public nature of the arbitration procedure and question the commercial expertise of judges. Since these same judges serve as mediators in public court-annexed mediations, it seems unlikely that Finnish companies will participate in mediation connected to the public courts.
Recently, there have been positive developments in the provision of private mediation services for businesses. For example, the Finnish Central Chamber of Commerce has established a platform to resolve commercial disputes through mediation.
By Pirita Virtanen, Senior Fellow-Finland, Weinstein International Foundation