Mediation Developments in Russia
Mediation in Russia is considered a humanistic yet pragmatic approach to resolving disputes, enabling the state to delegate some of its powers to ordinary citizens. At the same time, mediation is understood as promoting societal readiness and the ability to assume responsibility for decision-making. Mediation is recognized not only as a legal process, but also as part of key social institutions.
The shaping of the legal basis for and the institutionalization of mediation are undoubtedly major
steps toward furthering the expansion of mediation in Russia. On the initiative of Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, drafts of two laws were presented to the State Duma for consideration: a Federal Law on Alternative Dispute Resolution Procedures Involving an Intermediary (Mediation) and a Federal Law on Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation Following Adoption of the Federal Law on Alternative Dispute Resolution. Both drafts were adopted by the Duma — the Russian Federation parliament — and signed into law by the President of the Russian Federation. Since January 1, 2011 they have been in force.
The Russian Law on Mediation established a facilitative model of mediation. Pursuant to this
Law, the mediator is not entitled to hand down any decisions. The mediator cannot even suggest options for conflict settlement or act as legal consultant to the parties. Parties maintain full control, not only over the content of the settlement, but also over the process of seeking settlement options and preparing agreements related to the resolution of their dispute.
During the last thirteen years, immense efforts have been made in mediation education, including introductory courses and lectures for the legal profession, managers, psychologists, and other professionals, as well as the organization of regional and international events aimed at popularizing mediation and promoting the pooling of experience between mediation specialists. Contemporary Russian society, however, is still not sufficiently familiar with mediation.
The government, public institutions, and the legal community in Russia continue to jointly endeavor to shape an informed demand for mediation, with a view toward successfully introducing mediation and providing high-quality mediation services. These efforts include addressing the business community, as well as other professional and social groups. In line with this, active efforts are being made to introduce mediation into the school education system in order to promote a culture of constructive conflict resolution behavior starting at a young age.
By Tsisana Shamlikashvili, Senior Fellow – Russia, Weinstein International Foundation.