Press Briefing: Jan 2016 on Strengthening ADR Mechanism in Karachi

“The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is one of the best ways to provide a transparent, speedy, economical and easily available mechanism of dispute resolution to the disputants.” said Mr. Raza Shah Khan, Executive Director, Sustainable Peace and Development Organization (SPADO). Based in Islamabad, SPADO works for creating a peaceful society by developing capacity in resolving disputes through non-violent ways. Mr. Raza further mentioned that injustice and legal complications were two major factors of militancy and crime in the country. “To curb militancy and intolerance, the judiciary should be working in a faster way to provide justice to the people. Access to justice and the availability of easy, cost effective and transparent dispute resolution mechanisms is the perquisite for democratic and peaceful societies.”

“Strengthening ADR mechanism in Karachi” isa joint project of SPADO and National Center for Dispute Resolution (NCDR). The primary objective of this project is to introduce a robust ADR mechanism in three conflict prone areas (Korangi, Jamhuria colony, Sultanabad and Hijrat colony) in Karachi through capacity building of local communities, religious leaders and police officials in mediation and conflict resolution.

Mr. Ebrahim Saifuddin, Chief Operating Officer NCDR and expert mediator said that mediation today is recognized all over the world and has been made mandatory in many countries like Italy and Canada. Mediation clause, once considered unenforceable are now declared not in violation of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights by the European Court of Justice. He said that Georgia-Pacific, a fortune 500 company, in its public statement declared that by utilizing ADR services, primarily mediation, it saved $32.78 million in ten years. To lessen the burden on the judiciary, improve the business climate,and reduce frustration amongst the common man due to delayed justice byproviding access to justice to the common man, thereby upholding the rule of law, mediation must be incorporated as mandatory in law. Pakistan is in need for the promotion of a collaborative culture – not an adversarial culture.

So far, over 105 selected community mediators, religious leaders, Police officials and women mediators have been trained in Conflict resolution and mediation in this project.The beneficiaries have been involved through rigorous trainings, networking and collaborative workshops. These trained mediators have now starting working as an informal “mediation committees / مصالحتی کمیٹی ” where by a group of trained community mediators, religious leaders and Police officials have started resolving community disputes in their respective areas.

In addition to this, a seminar was conducted to share project overview, success stories and challenges from the field and engage political parties in strengthening ADR mechanism in Karachi. SPADO successfully managed to engage senior political leadership to ensure stakeholder buy in to strengthen mediation in Karachi.

Aazya Rafiq, Programme Manager, SPADO further shared that “Peacebuilding is an inherent part of our culture, religion and society. Our project aims to reinforce mediation which is an efficient and constructive way to resolve disputes. This will reduce unnecessary burden on our justice system. Pakistan is blessed with talented human capital and resources. It is high time we explore our own identities and accept diverse nature of our society and concentrate our effort and energy to create a positive and peaceful mindset in our country.”

This is a pilot project and if successful we would appeal to the government and political leadership not only to support it but to help us replicate the best practices in other parts of the country.

Mr. Ebrahim Saifudin – COO, NCDR addressing the press conference at the Karachi Press Club

Mr. Raza Shah Khan – Executive Director, SPADO addressing the press conference at the Karachi Press Club