CONCILIATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST - Chapter 20 - MENA Leading Arbitrators’ Guide to International Arbitration
Originally from The MENA Leading Arbitrators’ Guide to International Arbitration
The verb “conciliate” derives from the Latin conciliāre meaning “to bring together”, or “to unite”. The definition of conciliation found in most dictionaries does not go much further. Indeed, in the Cambridge English Dictionary conciliation is defined as “the process of helping two sides in a disagreement”. While this succinctly captures the spirit of conciliation, it is arguably vague as this definition could be applied to all other means of conflict resolution (such as mediation). It is not therefore surprising that when asked to describe what conciliation is, even lawyers struggle!
Whilst there is no formal legal definition of conciliation, it is commonly understood to be a non-binding form of Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) in which a third-party assists the parties in attempting to resolve a dispute. Conciliation is, in many ways, akin to mediation, although there are marked differences between the two.
For example, in mediation, the mediator’s role is to assist and facilitate parties into arriving towards an agreement whilst maintaining neutrality and impartiality at all times. Conciliation, however, differs in that the conciliator is an active participant in the discussions who provides guidance and potential solutions to the parties. It may be helpful to draw similarities between conciliation and principled negotiation, as this negotiation concept, developed by Fisher and Ury, focuses on the interests of parties and developing a collaborative discussion. This differentiates itself from positional bargaining, where parties are generally unwilling to compromise on their fixed position.