Peace has eluded many conflict zones in Ghana
Peace has eluded many conflict zones in Ghana
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By Austin Akufo Gamey, FIHRMP, MA. ADR. (PULSE)

One of the most important aspects of the existence of mankind is how best people of all works of life regardless of geographical location, colour, ethnicity and tribe can make maximum use of mediation in resolving differences and conflicts that are inevitable.

Being a fundamental human and social trait, it is appreciated that a completely conflict free harmonious society is impossible.

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It appears we have woefully failed to acquire the necessary knowledge, understanding and skills in managing such differences and conflicts which is increasingly becoming an albatross on our hands.

Conflicts are increasingly polarizing the world, breaking families apart, destroying businesses and marriages.

In Ghana, we have all followed with great concern the ongoing chieftaincy conflict between and among the Ga’s, the Alavanyo and Nkonya boundary and land disputes, Peki and Sitso boundary land disputes. We are also familiar with the Andani and Abudu chieftaincy and related disputes, the never ending Bimbilla conflict.

There are other the numerous documented disputes and conflicts across the nation, and the world that attest to the need for a paradigm shift in the way both the academic and professionals train ADR practitioners to provide vital services to address these concerns to enable Ghana and the world to be at peace.

Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms, especially mediation, is key to resolving relational conflicts where the level of interdependency, whether directly or indirectly, is very high, and breach of which may have effect not only on the direct parties involved but on the nation as a whole.

However, it is noteworthy that when such conflicts arise, the processes and right mechanisms to resolve the issues are not employed hence leading to prolonged disagreement, escalation of the matter or an artificial harmony in cases where the agreement was not voluntarily reached.

As Roland Reagan put it, “Peace is not just the absence of conflict; it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.”

The need for peace cannot be overemphasized as it is very important for social wellbeing where people live in harmony to enable nations grow and to build a better life for generations.

The absence of hostility after a peace treaty as we have noticed over the years, does not guarantee absolute resolution of the conflict as disputing parties, most often bounce back with worst aggression over of time.

So it is important that ADR professionals follow through the five stage mediation process  and ensure that parties understand the mutuality of the agreement to be reached and not enforce any decision on them that will discredit their professionalism and the entire process as is evident in the Andani family’s recent call  for the dissolution of the Committee mediating the Dagbon chieftaincy crisis as it accuses the committee of partiality.

In the true sense of mediation, the mediator is absolutely impartial and uses his/her professional skills to manage the high emotions of the parties operating in the red zone and help them to transit to the green zone where they can release relevant information that will aid the resolution process and get them to relax and see each other’s point of view. The mediator helps the parties to understand each other’s interests. As Nelson Mandela put it “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”

Ultimately, one of the hallmarks of a successful mediation process is the sustainability of the agreement reached. When properly followed through, conflicting parties end up dropping their perceptions that trigger aggressive actions and collaborate in finding mutually beneficial and sustainable resolution thereby becoming partners of change.

The fact of the matter is that if we continue to bury our heads in the sand as though nothing is happening in the resolution processes of some of these disputes we may be lurking with highly explosive problems, and should there be a trigger of two or three of such conflict at the same time, the a nation may not have the capacity to withstand the consequences from the resultant actions.

So the question is, what is causing the delay in the resolution of the major conflicts in the country?

Is it that the right processes were not followed or that the conflict resolution mechanisms are not appropriate to the disputes, or could there be a problem with the approach of the conflict resolution professionals in their handling of the issues?

Either way, it is proposed that the government invites ADR practitioners for a dialogue to enable the country to determine the pathway to success in the effective resolution of some of the intractable conflicts across the country.