Roseau, 1st February, 2021 - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean in collaboration with the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Judicial Education Institute and the University of the West Indies (UWI) has launched a 10-day training programme on mediation as an Alternative Dispute Resolution as a first option for dispute settlement to the traditional legal system. This series will run from February 1 to 12, 2021 and complements other UNDP-led citizen security initiatives ongoing throughout the region, which seek to reduce youth crime and violence through data-driven policymaking and programming.
Ugo Blanco, Resident Representative a.i. of UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, in his remarks at the opening ceremony noted “COVID-19 is a health crisis that has led to a socio-economic disaster with impacts on governance in many aspects;” further elucidating “we must find better ways to provide service to our citizens in a faster more flexible and transparent way without compromising the quality of service or the adherence to the principles, legislation, rules and regulations” a fitting introduction to the session that promoted an alternative to the traditional system and moves the region closer to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.
At a time when justice systems are further backlogged and placed under even greater strain due to the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, mediation can provide some much-needed reprieve. This was highlighted in the presentations which identified the benefits of court connected mediation and how it can successfully improve the administration of, and access to justice. Key speakers included, Dr Kimone Joseph, Head of UWI Open Campus, Dominica, Mr. Levy Peter, Attorney General, Commonwealth of Dominica, and Her Ladyship Dame Janice Pereira, DBE, Chief Justice, Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.
This extensive training was made possible due to the signing of an agreement by UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean and the Government of the Netherlands on 3 December 2019 to allocate funds through the Global Programme on Strengthening the Rule of Law and Human Rights for Sustaining Peace and Fostering Development. This agreement, in addition to a comprehensive Needs Assessment Report on the administration of justice in nine Caribbean countries carried out by UNDP, provided a favourable opportunity for the organisation and partners to address the severe impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic on the justice system. The consequences of COVID-19 highlighted particular justice concerns for the Caribbean and the Commonwealth of Dominica specifically, such as institutionalising reforms to strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of the justice chain in a radically shifted social context.
The training is expected to upscale the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as a diversionary measure and, mainstream mediation as a first option for dispute settlement via a robust public awareness campaign to promote the use of mediation and arbitration as viable alternatives to the traditional legal system. It also aims to increase the pool of regional mediators by 26 persons that will be armed with the tools and training to provide high quality and effective services.
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