Nigerian judges to learn benefits of alternative dispute resolution at Kennesaw State forum

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Workshop will bring top judges from the country’s Supreme Court and Court of Appeals KENNESAW…

Georgia (Sep 5, 2012)Workshop will bring top judges from the country’s Supreme Court and Court of Appeals

KENNESAW, Ga. (Sept. 5, 2012) — About 35 members of the Nigerian judiciary —  including justices from the West African nation’s highest courts — will attend a four-day workshop at Kennesaw State University designed to encourage the use of alternative dispute resolution in the country’s justice system.

The workshop, hosted by Kennesaw State’s Center for Conflict Management, will expose judges from Nigeria’s Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Federal High Court and various state courts to the skills, processes, funding, ethics and other issues related to using alternative approaches to resolving conflicts among parties in legal cases.

Workshops sessions are scheduled Sept. 12-15 at the Prillaman Hall, Health Sciences Building, on the Kennesaw State main campus at 1000 Chastain Road, Kennesaw, Ga.

The Honorable Justice John Ajet-Nasam, judge of the Economic and Financial Crimes Court in Accra, Ghana, will deliver a keynote address during the opening ceremony at 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 12.

The purpose of the workshop, according to Akanmu Adebayo, director of the Center for Conflict Management at Kennesaw State, is to promote the integration of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) into Nigeria’s court systems and to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to implement court-connected ADR programs in the West African nation.

ADR, which includes mediation and arbitration of conflicts through effective communication and negotiation, provides non-adversarial approaches to resolving conflicts amicably and peacefully, without the use of guns and violence.

“Nigeria is experiencing a great deal of conflict, some of it resulting from the adoption of democratic style,” Adebayo said.  “Some of the conflict stems from growing religious pluralism, as evidenced in escalating tension between Christianity and Islam. Some, like the crisis in the Niger Delta, arises from conflicts over natural resources. These disputes have overwhelmed the country’s courts, which in this growing democracy, are called on to settle disputes that may once have been settled by an elder, pastor or Imam.”

Workshop facilitator Tim Hedeen, professor of conflict management at Kennesaw State, is a recent Georgia Supreme Court-appointed member of the state’s Commission on Dispute Resolution. 

Hedeen noted that among emerging African democracies, Ghana passed an alternative dispute resolution act in 2010.  Ghana’s experience with the process will be highlighted during a workshop session facilitated by Justice Ajet-Nassam.

Hedeen said he hopes Nigeria can find in these alternative methods a centralized, systematic way of addressing conflict and empowering organizations outside of the courts, as Ghana and about a dozen American states have.   

“But first,” says Adebayo, “we must get the Nigerian judiciary behind this approach and convince them of the adaptability, confidentiality and ability of alternative dispute resolution to address their needs and concerns.”

In many ways, mediation and negotiation are more culturally adaptable to Nigeria than the judiciary system, Adebayo said. “These methods of resolving disputes have been practiced within the culture for a long time, but more formalized and modernized systems of alternative dispute resolution are needed.”   

 While attending the workshop, the Nigerian jurists also will visit Georgia and Cobb County courts, as well as private ADR programs to observe the use and application of arbitration, mediation and negotiation in legal settings.

Other workshop facilitators include Shinji Morokuma, director of the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution; Daniel Weitz, coordinator of the New York Office of Alternative Dispute Resolution & Court Improvement; and Flora Devine, general counsel and special assistant to the president at Kennesaw State.

Kennesaw State’s Center for Conflict Management collaborates with the university’s Master of Science in Conflict Management and the Ph.D. in International Conflict Management programs.

For more information on the workshop for Nigerian judges, go to http://www.kennesaw.edu/conflict/training/nigeria/Nigeria%20Mediation%20Workshop.html

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-- Sabbaye McGriff



 

A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu

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