By: Donald L Swanson
There are many people, around the world, doing excellent work in promoting the use of mediation as a dispute resolution tool.
One such organization is the Hellenic Union of Mediators, located in Athens, Greece (the “UNION”). Here is a link to its website.
I had the recent pleasure of working with this organization and its leaders: Catherine Cotsaki, Chair, and Sergios Manarakis. I became highly impressed with their efforts and their influence—and thought others would be interested in learning about them too!
What follows is from a translation of information on the UNION’s website.
History and Purpose
The UNION was formed in 2010 by the first 25 Certified Mediators in Greece, and it now has more than 120 members. Both Greek and foreign mediators can be members of the UNION.
The UNION organizes education seminars and mock mediation work shops and role plays for professionals, both certified mediators and non‐mediators interested in mediation.
Additionally, in an effort to educate people outside the mediation profession, the UNION has successfully organized many conferences with such titles as, “Mediation – The New Institution of Alternative Dispute Resolution.”
Conferences the UNION presents involve such organizations as the Athens Bar Association, the Cultural Center of Kifissia, the European Public Law Organization (EPLO), and various Municipalities, such as the Municipality of Penteli ‐ Melission, of Galatsi, of Glyfada, of Papagou‐Cholargou, the Municipality of Athens, of Aghia Paraskevi, of Amaroussion, of Filotei ‐Psychikou, of Kifissia, of Nafplion, of Atalanti and of Lamia.
Other examples of such conferences include:
- Participating in the Greek Polish Congress on Mediation, in the cities of Argos and Athens, in October 2017;
- Organizing a joint meeting at the Bar Association of Athens with the Union of Negotiators, in March 2018.
- Organizing a meeting about Peer Mediation in schools, in March 2019.
The UNION has also participated and been actively represented in conferences about mediation organized by the Ministry of Justice in the city of Volos, in the city of Chania, in the city of Xanthi.
Further, the UNION has participated in and organized mediation seminars involving other institutions, in Greece and abroad, including a March 2011 seminar of the World Forum Of Mediation Centers of the International Union of Lawyers in Athens, organized jointly with the UNION—this seminar was regarded as the most successful one at the time.
Since 2017, the UNION is a member of the Permanent Cooperation Commission of the Organization for the Promotion of Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods (OPEMED), an Institutional Alliance created in December 2015 by the main Social Partners, which since then promotes mediation in the best possible way.
Since the beginning of 2019, the UNION has established a Mediation Portal in Kifissia, in a hall at the Town Hall of Kifissia offered by the Municipality of Kifissia and the Cultural and Sports Public Entity Dimitrios Vikelas. There, twice per month, at least two accredited mediators provide two hours of information, pro bono, about mediation to any interested person.
Distanced Zoom Conferences
In 2020, responding to restrictive Covid measures, the UNION began organizing, together with OPEMED, online conferences presented by notable University Professors, High Judges, Accredited Mediators, Certified Trainers of Mediators and other prestigious personalities.
The UNION organized fourteen Conferences via Zoom, between September and December 2020. Most of them had a topic concerning mainly theoretical, but also practical, matters connected to the application of the provisions of the new Greece Law 4640/2019 on Mediation. Said Law has also introduced the Mandatory First Meeting of Mediation in several categories of cases which, in fact, comprise a large number of disputes.
Such conferences have been warmly applauded by the large audiences, composed mainly of Lawyers and Mediators, who appreciated that the Conferences effectively contributed to the answering of their queries in respect to the meaning and the practical issues occurring when applying the new Law.
The UNION and OPEMED intend to continue organizing online educational conferences to inform as broadly as possible both the legal community and the population, about the beneficent Institution of Mediation, which is so appropriate to solve disputes in a way allowing to maintain social peace.
Here’s a huge “thank you” to the Hellenic Union of Mediators, and similar organizations around the world, for their excellent work in promoting the use of mediation as a dispute resolution tool. Their efforts are having a huge and enduring influence. Kudos to them!
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