The Supporting Effective Dispute Resolution (SEDR) project, funded by the European Union and implemented by the British Council in partnership with The Asia Foundation, launched a Policy Brief titled ‘Strengthening A Just Alternative’ to strengthen community-based alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms in the country.
The launch event, held at the British Council Library in Colombo, was attended by several distinguished dignitaries, including Hon. Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, Minister of Justice, Ms. Beatrice Bussi, (Interim) Head of Development Cooperation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Priyanath Perera, Secretary of the Mediation Boards Commission, Hon. Justice Yapa, Chairperson of the Mediation Boards Commission, and Commissioners of the Mediation Boards Commission.
Speaking at the event, Ms. Beatrice Bussi stated that “The importance of mediation in Sri Lanka is twofold, as it ensure an easy and economic access to justice to citizens, while it provides the opportunity to reduce the burden on the Sri Lankan court system. I want to praise the model of Sri Lankan community mediation boards, for its effectiveness and for the value it delivers to communities in addressing local disputes preventing their escalation”.
Hon. Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe stated ” One of the main tasks of the Ministry is to ensure the necessary legal, policy, and institutional framework is set up for efficient resolution of disputes. Alternative dispute resolution, including mediation, play a major role in this regard. There are different opinions regarding the effectiveness of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, especially mediation among the community and stakeholders. In the meantime, the Ministry has initiated a number of reforms to improve dispute resolution processes in Sri Lanka. Accordingly, the Ministry highlights the importance of surveys of this nature to facilitate evidence-based decision-making regarding alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. As such the Ministry would like to congratulate the SEDR project on this successful initiative.”
The Policy Brief is based on the findings of a Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices (KAP) survey commissioned by SEDR and conducted by the Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA) in 2022. The survey aimed to assess knowledge, attitudes and practices of various community-based alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, including mediation boards. The survey covered six districts in the country, targeting 1,712 households of all three main ethnic groups.
The launch event hosted an expert panel discussion where the panellists spoke about the findings from the KAP survey and how the evidence can used by policy makers and practitioners to strengthen ADR initiatives in the country. The discussion focused on how to increase public awareness of mediation services, the importance of community engagement and participation, the role of women in mediation, as well as the need for more effective ADR communication strategies.
The Policy Brief highlights the importance of investing in mediation training and capacity-building for mediators, improving public awareness of mediation and ADR, and strengthening the legal and regulatory framework for mediation in Sri Lanka. Some of the key survey findings include:
- 89% of those who had accessed Community Mediation Boards stated that they are satisfied with the way their dispute was resolved
- 80% of people who used Community Mediation Boards, are likely to use them again in future.
- Most respondents confirmed that it is cheaper and faster to use Community Mediation Boards or religious leaders to their resolve disputes, than using the formal justice system.
- 73% of respondents indicate that they would like to learn more about the Community Mediation Boards processes, in particular the youth.
- 67% of respondents stated that there should be an equal representation of men and women in any ADR forum.
The Policy Brief can be accessed in English/Sinhala and Tamil on SEDR’s website here: https://www.sedrsrilanka.org/resources
Caption(L-R): Jacques Carstens (SEDR Team Leader), Beatrice Bussi (Interim) Head of Development Cooperation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Hon. Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, Minister of Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms, Krishanthi Meegahapola (Addl Secretary, Ministry of Justice) and Priyanath Perera (Secretary – Mediation Boards Commission).