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The Office of Mediation Services

The Office of Mediation Services (MEF) is part of the Bank’s Internal Justice System (Conflict Resolution System, CRS), a group of independent offices that report directly to the President’s office and offer impartial conflict resolution services to WBG staff. We offer conflict resolution services that are safe, independent, impartial and informal and promote open and respectful communication.

Our Conflict Resolution Services

Mediation OverviewGroup FacilitationPresentations & Trainings

Camilo Azcarate
Manager, Mediation Services

What is Mediation?

Mediation is an informal, confidential conflict resolution process in which an impartial third party helps two or more participants better understand their issues, interests and needs and empower them to bridge their difference through a voluntary agreement. The main characteristics of mediation are:

Impartiality: Mediators have no stake in the matter. They don’t make a decision or advocate for either participant. They do help the participants communicate effectively and make decisions about how to resolve the matter.

Confidentiality: Mediation is strictly confidential, both for the mediator and the participants.

Informality: The mediation process is designed to be flexible and user-friendly.

Voluntary agreement: Participants have ultimate control and decision-making power over the outcome of the mediation.

How does it work?

Mediation services are easy to use - there are three basic steps:

Step 1 - Intake: Mediation is initiated by a request to the Mediation Services Office (MEF). That request can be a simple e-mail sent, a phone call or walk-in to the office. Any current or former staff member or consultant may request a mediation for any work-related issue. Once a request is received, MEF will contact all participants to conduct an intake. The purpose of the intake is to ensure the participants’ understanding of the process and to help MEF determine whether the case is appropriate for mediation.

Step 2 - Mediation: if the case is deemed appropriate for mediation, participants will be asked to come to an initial mediation session. The participants are required to sign an Agreement to Mediate and may rank their preference of the mediator from MEF’s list of internal and external mediators. After the first session, any participant is free to decide whether they want to continue with the process or withdraw from it.

Step 3 - Agreement: If the issues are settled through mediation, the mediator will draft a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which records specific agreements made by all participants. By signing an MOU neither participant admits fault. However, a signed MOU is a binding commitment for all the participants. If you would like additional information about these steps, you can review our Mediation Process flowchart and Mediation Staff Rules (link to 9.01)

How useful is it?

Mediation works: 80% of cases that use mediation reach an agreement, and over 95% of participants find mediation very useful, regardless of the outcome. Please visit our testimonials page to view comments from past participants.

As an opportunity to increase the quality of the communication and relationships, mediation is immensely valuable. However, mediation is most effective in the early stages of a dispute. Contact us  if you have any questions about mediation and whether or not your case may be appropriate for mediation. You can also contact other offices for advice and help: Ombuds Services, the Office of Diversity Programs; the Office of Ethics & Business Conduct; and Human Resources. Staff can also consult with counselors of the Staff Association. Since all cases are different, any one of these offices can refer you to mediation if they think it is appropriate.

Mediation is an informal, non-confrontational process in which solutions are not imposed on the parties but the product of a voluntary agreement. No lengthy, time consuming preparation is required and sessions are scheduled at times and places that are convenient to all participants involved.

What are the advantages of mediation?

Mediation is forward-looking: Participants have the opportunity to rebuild relationships that have been strained. This can be key for the ultimate, lasting resolution.

The participants are in control: They resolve the dispute on their own terms and not one imposed by others. They may also decide to withdraw from mediation after the first session, if desired.

The participants can tailor solutions that meet their needs: The flexibility and creativity of the solution building process focuses on the interests of the participants, allowing all participants to feel satisfied with the outcome.

Agreements reached in mediation are final and binding: The participants memorialize their agreement in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU does not constitute an admission by the participants of any blame or guilt. However, the agreement is final and binding for the participants.

Mediation is confidential: This allows participants to be open and honest about the issues without fear that their words will be used against them or taken out of context.

For more information, please feel free to contact us if you are thinking of using mediation. We can help you decide whether this is the best alternative.

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Group Facilitation? What is It?

Group Facilitation is an informal, confidential process in which an impartial third party, a facilitator, can improve the quality of communication, problem-solving and decision-making processes in groups. Group facilitation is immensely valuable as an opportunity to increase the quality of communication!

The Facilitator

Impartial - Facilitators don’t make decisions for the participants. They work for the whole group.

Process - Facilitators are process experts and use communication techniques to uncover problems and improve the quality of the communication, problem-solving and decision-making processes within the group.

Flexible - Facilitators adapt to the needs of the group and the tasks to be accomplished.

The Process

After the initial discussion, the facilitator will prepare and present a proposal to the group, clarifying the steps, timeline and objectives of the facilitation. If the group decides to move forward, the facilitator will conduct the process, prepare agendas and summaries of discussions.

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MEF provides presentations and outreach for your teams as well as skill building activities in conflict competencies, facilitation skills and conflict and culture.

Introduction to the Internal Justic System (IJS) – 1 hour
This presentation introduces the World Bank’s conflict resolution strategies and the services of each of the IJS services.

Conflict Competencies (4 hours)
This training introduces participants to concepts that will help them understand the reality of conflict and skillfully engage them in ways that improve their work experience. This training is highly interactive with multiple exercises and role-plays.

Advanced Conflict Competencies (4 hours)
Previous participants of the basic conflict competencies training can acquire additional concepts and further practice their skills during this training. Recommended for those providing advice to people dealing with conflict.

Group Facilitation Skills (8 hours)
For staff members interested in acquiring and practicing skills for planning and implementing group facilitation processes.

Culture, Communication and Conflict (4 hours)
This training highlights the different ways that cultures communicate and approach conflict. It is designed to improve participants’ awareness and understanding of the sources of the different attitudes, and communication styles that affect how people perceive and handle conflicts around the world.

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