IJA International Judicial Academy

Mediation in Romania — An IJA Success Story

In 2003, the International Judicial Academy, working under a modest grant from the U.S. State Department and funds, developed and conducted an intensive two week training program for six court professionals from Romania on mediation. The aim of the program was to provide the six participants with the skills necessary to perform mediation and establish a pilot court sponsored mediation program in the Romanian city of Craiova. The mediation training program was divided into two parts: (1) the structure and techniques of mediation, and (2) how to set up a mediation program connected to the courts.

The Academy used mediation experts in the Washington, D.C. area to provide the instruction for the two parts of the program. The IJA has received a report from one of the principal members of the Romanian team that participated in the IJA mediation training program. Below is a description of the results of this program, in the participant's own words:

"The training program started in Washington represented an essential stage for the mediation development in Romania. You know that after that training we conducted a training for the mediators from Craiova. With that occasion we tried to figure out the 'shape of the [Mediation] Center from Craiova.' We came back to Craiova full of enthusiasm and started mediating cases in the Center. We were honored by the presence of the American Ambassador and the Justice Minister at the official opening [of the Mediation Center]. We did mediate cases for a while until we realized that Romanian ADR [alternative dispute resolution] will need a lot more than that in order to move forward well. Romania was going to have a law and no trained mediators at the local level [the Romanian Parliament passed a mediation law allowing for mediation in the Romanian courts]. So, last year [2005] we trained 240 lawyers from 24 Romanian counties (out of forty) in an eighty-hour training program (twenty mediators were trained in two weeks by four Romanian trainers and two or four American trainers). That program, that was initially labeled by pessimistic people as "a big madness" turned out to become "a big happiness". My American and Romanian colleagues conducted the training in a modern and professional fashion. The trainees went back to their counties and opened mediation centers in every county. A mediation centers federation was formed by all the centers [which can be seen at www.ucmro.ro]. This year [2006], we're continuing the training for the remaining sixteen counties. All this time we continued to mediate cases and to organize local and national public awareness seminars."