The Brave New World of Disputes


A recent article written in the National Law Journal by Ian Meredith, Laura Atherton and Marcus M. Birch gives us a glance at potential massive disputes that will arise in the next two decades. The top three areas of possible conflict stem from the analysis of the National Intelligence Council's 2008 report, "2025 Global Trends: A Transformed World. They are:


  1. Competition for carbon-based sources of energy. The NIC predicts that scarcity of carbon-based sources of energy and a desire for secure access to energy supplies will bring countries into conflict.

  2. Water. Activities by countries close to a water source that reduce the water available to downstream countries through diversion, retention and pollution of water are increasing worldwide, and with them the number of disputes.

  3. Natural Resources of the seabed. there are potentially 430 maritime boundaries among 67 coastal countries, fewer than half are agreed upon and only a handful of those involve the outer continental shelf, disputes are inevitable.

As with today's global economy situation, financial disputes also are listed a potential provider to international conflict. A worthy note is financial disputes are not just between international corporations, but also between nations. The recent Naftohaz Ukrainy and Gazprom dispute, both state run by the Ukraine and Russia respectively, serves as an example.


So how does ADR fit in on the international stage? Well, The EU Directive on Mediation in Civil and Commercial Matters, adopted in 2008, not only encourages mediation but also the enforcement of agreements reached there as well.

The article adds that the international neutral community will face two challenges:

  1. The need for greater sophistication in the mechanisms deployed to stimulate settlement;

  2. The need for greater cultural sensitivity as mediation is used to address disputes between parties from different cultural traditions.

The issue of cultural sensitivity seems to be 'popping' up often. When attending the recent American Bar Association section on Dispute Resolution's Spring Conference in New York City, there were numerous sessions dedicated to the issue of mediating internationally and the issue of cultural differences.

Read the entire article [here].

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