Dean Hiram Chodosh was the keynote speaker and Professor Jim Holbrook was honored at the International Academy of Mediators’ spring conference banquet held at Red Butte Gardens and Arboretum on Friday, March 12.
Prof. Holbrook received the IAM’S Sid Lezak Award for Excellence, granted annually to a non-member of the International Academy of Mediators who in the eyes of the IAM, best represents the furtherance of mediation as the preferred method of dispute resolution, and to the one who uses their personal and professional powers and persuasion to achieve this goal. The award was presented to “Jim Holbrook: A Warrior in Peace.” In introducing Holbrook, Chodosh said that he has had four careers as warrior, lawyer, mediator, and teacher, and that Jim’s life has come full circle in the 40 years since he fought in combat in Vietnam. In the past three years, Holbrook has been involved in the law school’s teaching negotiation and mediation in India, its rule-of-law program for Afghan prosecutors, and its Global Justice Project in Iraq.
In accepting the award, Holbrook said that the Cosmos has called mediators to be secular shamans in our communities to help the wounded to heal, the broken to mend, and the conflicted to be redeemed. To do this, mediators can and should employ their own spiritual awareness and dedication in their work with parties in conflict.
In his keynote address, Dean Chodosh contrasted the libertarian assumptions about mediation—which values the rights of individuals, self-determination, confidentiality of the process, and the impartiality of the mediator who has no prior relationship with the parties and no stake in the outcome they create—with communitarian mediation that values social organization, collective determination, social networks in decision making, and expectations of evaluative inputs from respected experts or elders. Dean Chodosh said that libertarian mediation cannot be applied as an exported wholesale system or recipe in more community-based decision-making settings. Instead, the growth of mediation in such social settings requires disaggregating each tool and customizing it to fit with those feature of social organization, so that local analogs can be found that serve as intervening wedges to crack open new processes for resolving conflicts. Dean Chodosh closed his remarks by challenging IAM members to become engaged in the ever-more crucial work to close capacity gaps in global conflict resolution.