From March 12–13, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI), in cooperation with Kazakhstan’s Institute of Justice, conducted a mediation seminar for 35 judges from the country’s 16 regions.
Organized at the request of the Institute of Justice, the workshop was designed to help prepare Kazakhstani judges for a civil procedure code, which is expected to be adopted in 2015 and will introduce the concept of judicial mediation, mandating judges to serve as mediators on certain types of cases, including family, inheritance and housing law cases, as well as minor criminal offenses.
Valentina Stepanova and Gulnara Baigazina, local mediators from the United Center for Mediation and Peacekeeping, led discussions on the concepts and notions of mediation, addressing different approaches and providing a comparative overview of international best practices and Kazakhstan’s current practice. Participants discussed the definition, signs and types of conflict, and they identified the types of conflict that are better suited to judicial mediation. The workshop—which covered such mediation skills as negotiation, active listening and non-verbal communication—involved interactive activities, including small group discussions, presentations, case study and simulation. The trainers also employed segments from well-known movies and cartoons to illustrate different negotiation and communication styles.
Participants said that the practical activities helped with consolidating their existing and new theoretical knowledge. Following the role-playing exercise, participants said that the simulation was interesting in that it challenged them to restrain themselves from making decisions and assume a new role of facilitating conflict settlement by the two parties.
The seminar is part of an ABA ROLI’s U.S. Agency for International Development-funded judicial reform program.