Conflict Resolution, Human Rights & Adult Education
By: Dr. David Silvera
Bon Ki Moon, the incoming Secretary General of the United Nations, the eighth office holder, is carrying a reputation of being modest and
thhumble. In his speech to the General Assembly on October 13, 2006
he referred to his modesty by saying that people accept his modesty as a
cultural attribute and not as lack of decisiveness or passion. “Modesty is about demeanor”, he said, “not about vision and goals. It does not mean the lack of commitment or leadership”.
Moon’s statement is clear to us, adult educators, as it stresses the notion that understanding and respect, as well as acceptance of cultural variety, must be at the foundation of one's relationship to all others. When prejudice, discrimination and racism are expressed, adult education should take responsibility for opposing any such views.
What are the goals left by the outgoing General Secretary of the U.N., Kofi Ananm, as unaccomplished?
th In an article he wrote at the “Herald Tribune” on 9 December, 2006
on Human Rights, he stated:
“The U.N. has special stake and a special responsibility in promoting respect for human rights worldwide. But I do not need to tell you that the U.N. has often failed to live up to that responsibility”.
“Human Rights abuses do not occur on paper. They are committed by real people, against real victims, in specific countries. Human Rights are perhaps more in need of protection in Africa than in any other
continent. Africa’s many Conflicts are, almost invariably, accompanied
by massive Human Rights violations.
thIn ICAE 7World Assembly of Adults’ right to learn – convergence,
solidarity and action, one has to show the connection between Education, Human Rights and Conflict Resolution.
This paper suggests Mediation as a tool, and the language of mediation as a basis for Negotiations & collaborations in conflict resolutions.
Charles B. Paraselle, in his article “Mediators as international
Peacemakers” (Mediate-com. #180 dec.2006) suggested language as a
criteria for distinction between human and animals, between violence and non-violence. He wrote:”Animals do not misunderstand each other
as much as we do. If, as seems likely, connection exists between language and violence, than consideration of language has place in the field of conflict resolution”.
Mediation, is one of the methods in A.D.R. =Alternative Conflict Resolution. It is a tool in human relations, negotiations and conflict resolution, because it exposes the hidden interest in a relationship, tries to give an answer to what is important –and not to the statements made.
In negotiation, you have to change the attitude of people involved from competition and confrontation to collaboration, to a win–win situation,
and not to lose-win situation or loose–loose situation. As a philosophy, mediation believes in dialogue and not in antagonism, adversary or violence.
This is true in all kind of situations, whether it is a conflict between Individuals, groups (Multi Party Dispute) or even freedom movements, national and International organizations and also between states.
According to the Americans Jay Folberg and Alison Taylor, in their book "Mediation", “Mediation is an intervention that is intended to
resolve disputes and manage conflict by facilitating decision making”.
Mediation is a process that emphasizes the participants` own responsibility for making decisions that affects their lives. It is, therefore, a self-empowering process.
Mediation has definite stages, involving a series of techniques for accomplishing necessary tasks, which one can learn by training that involves ones personal life experience, theoretical lectures and role play in story-real conflicts.
Mediation and Peace
Peace is commonly understood to mean the absence of hostilities. Other definitions include freedom from disputes, silence, harmonious relations as the Chinese indicate, or inner contentment and serenity.
Peace can prevail between individuals and states. The U.N. strives to achieve a World Peace.
Israel and the Palestinians also wish for peace, still its manifestation is expressed by a continuous war. Similarly is the case in other parts of the world.
Peace can also be a greeting or farewell - the Hebrew word “shalom”
or the Arabic “salaam.”
Peace may refer specifically to an agreement concluded to end a war, or to a lack of external warfare.
Human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent. Human rights are what make us human.
When we speak of the right to life, or development, or to dissent and diversity, we speak of tolerance. Tolerance will ensure all freedoms. Without it, we can be certain of none.
Within this conference, by human rights we mean the importance of equality, both in theory and practice, in different parts of the world. Those rights include, among others: The right for all to be treated with dignity; the right to learn; the right for Lifelong learning; the right for the eradication of poverty; gender justice, ete.
Many of those rights are the concern of people involved in active citizenship through education. They strive for activating individual citizens to take part in decisions that affect their life; be more involved and have access to decision making processes; be active and elected in their respective countries; express their rights as equal citizens and take responsibilities by being active, concern, and involved – identifying
themselves with the cause and the people who strive to achieve that goals.
Throughout history, violence has been the recognized tool that governments understood.
So was the case in Poland, when at the city of Gdansk Lech Valenca insisted on asking for the workers' rights, which, eventually, led Poland to independence within the family of democratic countries and soon, also to the European community.
The same process is another east European country.
Turkey wish to Joins the European Union - but, they still face internal problems relating to democratic issues, locally and internationally, and of “Human Rights”.
The same in Prague, former Czechoslovakia ,with the huge street “sit
in” demonstration, for several days, led the country, eventually to be independent and democratic. The separation into 2 countries, that of check & that of Slovakia, was achieved by negotiation and good will, based on the needs of both. Equally the same is in other parts of the world.
Far back in American history, in Masseuses, they called provocatively: “no taxation without representation”!!!.
However, no true victory could be achieved by the barrel of the guns. At the end of violence, negotiation,” dialogue” and not “monologue” or
wars, contributed to agreements and settlements achieved.
Mediation, through a neutral third party who distinguishes between positions and interests, lead to a win–win situation, can save a lot of
blood and bring disputant parties into agreeable consent.
Only a professional mediator, an expert in the methods of mediation, who identify himself with the philosophy of mediation as a way of life, and knows the proper techniques of mediation, is able to assist in resolving conflicts, including “human rights” conflicts, by turning
confrontations into collaborations.
It was the American president John Kennedy who said this relevant remark: “Let us never negotiate out of fear, But let us never fear to negotiate.”
Dr. David Silvera – Mediator and trainer of mediation.
POBox: 24101 TEL Aviv Israel.
Universal Principles of Adult Education
The process of Mediation in conflict resolution of human rights and achieving peace can be regarded as part of the Universal Principles of Adult Education, because of the following.
1. It provides systematic, serial and subsidized learning
opportunities for all adults throughout their lifetime,
accommodating to their location, religious and ethnic
origin; their beliefs and lifestyles; gender; their varying
2. It is the provision of training to help adults fulfill their
social roles as adults, including: Earning livelihood and
developing work careers; building and sustaining family
life; managing their civil and civic assignments; making
informed usage of the leisure time and cultural
consumption; developing friendships; contributing to the
society and community in which they live.
3. It is helping adults make maximum use of their potentials
and capabilities, and helping needy adults who have
impairments and difficulties to act fully.
5. It provides assistance and guidance to special groups of adults and needy communities, i.e. women, religious and
ethnic minority groups, immigrants, older people.