Though most of The Mediation Group’s work takes place in New England, we have also been involved in projects in Cuba, China, the Middle East and Nigeria.
Projects in Cuba
In December of 2014, the relations between United States and Cuba took an unprecedented turn by opening their doors to one another. One month later Brad, Jane, David and Amy left TMG to spend two weeks in Cuba. Led by colleague Judge Isaac Borenstein, a Visiting Professor of Law at Suffolk Law School, and accompanied by 24 students from Suffolk Law School, we worked closely with faculty and students from the law schools of both Havana and Matanzas. We taught classes and conducted trainings as part of an educational exchange. With a focus on family law we discussed the uses of mediation and other conflict resolution processes within our two legal systems.
It was an exciting time to be in Cuba with the change in relations being so fresh. While there are concerns about what the impacts may be, there was an enormous amount of optimism for the future. We look forward to continuing a relationship around conflict resolution and family law with our friends in Cuba.
Projects in China
In February of 2009, David Matz went to China as part of a group of mediation experts in a delegation of the University of Massachusetts, the American Bar Association and the Massachusetts Judges Conference. They met with Chinese judges, lawyers and others to develop a training for judicial policy makers on the role of mediation in the courts. In June of 2009, David returned as part of a team to conduct that training. At that time he also began a partnership with the Beijing Faculty of Law which led to the establishment of a negotiation competition for Chinese law students, which David co-chaired for several years. In celebration of our 25th anniversary, TMG sponsored the 2nd annual Chinese negotiation competition, which took place in Beijing in June 2010. TMG’s four principals traveled to Beijing, conducting a mediation demonstration at Beijing Law School and serving as competition judges. As a prize to the winners, in April 2011 TMG sponsored a two-week program in the Boston area to introduce them to various conflict management and ADR practices. David went on to spend several weeks in Changchun, in Northeastern China, teaching negotiation to law students at Jilin University. He also taught about U.S. foreign policy regarding Chinese human rights to law students from five regional law schools. In June 2012, Brad, Jane and David traveled back to China to conduct the 2012 Mediation Training at the Law School of Xiangtan University.
Projects in Nigeria
In June 2007, David was part of a delegation to Abuja, Nigeria, providing trainings in mediation and negotiation skill development for attorneys, judges and law professors. The training was sponsored by Settlement House, a private, not-for-profit agency based in Abuja. Eben Weitzman also joined a delegation to Nigeria in January of 2009, working with government officials and civil society leaders to better manage both societal and organizational disputes. He has continued to serve as a consultant to a number of Nigerian groups dealing with religious, political and organizational conflict. Since his first visit to Nigeria in 2009, Eben has continued to work with the Interfaith Mediation Centre (IMC) in Kaduna. The IMC, co-led by Pastor James Wuye and Imam Muhammed Ashafa, carries out ground-breaking work in building interfaith peace between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria's conflict-torn Middle Belt and Northeast. Eben is part of the team at UMass Boston's Center for Peace, Democracy and Development that has partnered with IMC on a 5-year, multimillion dollar USAID contract to scale up their work across the most divided parts of the country. Eben works with IMC on long-term strategic planning for their peace building work, and the organizational capacity-building needed for them to carry it out. In a separate project headed by the Graduate Programs in Dispute Resolution at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and funded by a U.S. State Department Exchange grant, TMG participated in training Nigerian civil society youth leaders in developing conflict resolution skills. In June 2008, several members of a Nigerian delegation came to TMG to observe the mediation of a childhood lead poisoning case. They had an opportunity to observe the mediation, interview counsel and then have extensive discussions with the mediator about both the specific case and the mediation process generally. TMG’s role marked a small piece of a broader collaboration to support these Nigerian professionals as they cope with the Moslem-Christian conflicts in their home communities. Since that visit, TMG has continued to be involved in the ongoing collaboration, meeting with Nigerian delegates during their visits to Boston.
Projects in the Middle East
As part of his longstanding involvement in Israeli-Palestinian issues, David has conducted mediation training for Palestinian lawyers, and provided training for Palestinian judges on the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in the courts. David also consulted with the Israeli Ministry of Justice and the High Court of Israel to develop ADR programs for the Israeli Trial Courts. In conjunction with the University of Tel Aviv Law Faculty, David set up and ran a mediation clinic in the Tel Aviv District Court. He has also taught at a number of Israeli universities, and trained executives, ADR professors and government officials. He spent his sabbatical in the Fall of 2001 at the University of Tel Aviv, researching Palestinian/Israeli negotiations at Taba. In June of 2007, David worked on a project to engage urban designers to develop creative ways to divide Jerusalem in a way that would enable both Palestinians and Israelis to share the city while providing security to all. David’s involvement in this project continued in the spring of 2009 when he developed several workshop sessions in Jerusalem for architects and activists. In October of 2007, David gave the keynote address in Jerusalem at the annual meeting of the International Mediators Association. David spent a portion of his most recent sabbatical conducting research on attitudes of Jewish Jerusalemites on their reactions to a peace process that could divide the sovereignty of their city. This has focused on the ways in which symbols and religion can and cannot be negotiated. David is a longtime member of the board of directors of the American Friends of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, a planned community in Israel bringing together Arabs and Jews in what is designed to be an “Oasis of Peace” in the Middle East.