For centuries in traditional societies and communities, local leaders and chiefs have facilitated the settlement of disputes in their respective jurisdictions through the use of non-adversarial methods. The goal was to promote reconciliation, while sustaining peace and preserving coherence in the tribe. For example, a fine paid by the perpetrator of a dispute would be used to buy a goat to be consumed by everyone in the community, including the perpetrator.
The field of modern mediation first developed in South Africa during the 1970’s. It was primarily used for labor cases, when disputes began to emerge as a challenge to the Apartheid laws. Since then, mediation has become fairly established in labor, community and family cases.