International Peace Mediation in Finland and Beyond

Finland is a leading provider of peace mediation services. Finland’s former president and 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.

Furthermore, 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.

Although, in many cases, mediation would serve companies better than arbitration, the business sector was unfamiliar with the existence of mediation. Thus, they have not demanded it. Lawyers have addressed disputes but, due to their hourly fee, they have not had an interest in promoting mediation, the quickest and the most cost-efficient way of resolving disputes.  Until recently, mediation champions have been missing.

 Recently, there have been positive developments in increasing the knowledge and use of mediation within the business sector with the first business disputes mediated in Finland.

By Pirita Virtanen, Senior Fellow-Finland, Weinstein International Foundation 

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