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We live in a world full of numerous and profound crises. And there will never be easy answers for things such as geo-political and humanitarian conflicts; challenges arising from competition over scarce resources; increasing global tensions over the development of weapons of mass destruction; and armed conflicts and terrorism around the world. Although these complex, and, in many cases, large-scale, life-health-and-safety threatening issues are outside the realm of traditional corporate and commercial contexts where ADR principles have been successfully applied, unpacking the lessons of time-tested conflict prevention and resolution methods reveals how they may be used to reduce domestic and global tensions, reach viable solutions and promote sustainable conciliation and cooperation. In any event, it is imperative that we never stop seeking answers, or striving to find solutions, and sometimes guidance or inspiration can be gleaned from some unexpected sources.

Parties to conflicts in the corporate realm have often been surprised to discover the wealth of additional—and flexible—options available to them when they look beyond traditional litigation, in order to explore alternative dispute resolution (ADR) strategies. This was certainly my own experience when I served as General Counsel at MasterCard for almost 14 years, and where—after initially looking to the courts as the forum to address all business conflicts—we ultimately resolved almost all our major cases through mediation.

The power of mediation, not only to resolve disputes but to change often deep-seated corporate culture, is truly remarkable.  Now, of course the stakes in broader and complex world conflicts and crises are usually much higher than those found in the corporate context, but the time-tested tools of conflict resolution perfected by non-profit and multinational dispute resolution think tank, The International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution (CPR), and utilized by highly experienced commercial mediators can, I believe, have a profound effect.

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