A promising future: Strengthening mediation through diversity

“Mediators are bridge builders,” explains Ibrahim. “They help parties communicate more effectively and help them come together – to focus on an agreement.” For Ibrahim, respect is a key element of mediation work, and mediation is often about mending relationships. 

His work as a mediator overlaps with his role as a faith leader, and he runs a practice which focuses on mediation for Muslims based in the UK and Canada, called Sulha Solutions. In Arabic, ‘sulha’ means ‘to make peace’ and is a traditional Arab method for resolving conflict. While it has been around for a long time, it still has a lot to offer in the modern age. “Sulha encompasses mediation, arbitration, med-arb, restorative justice facilitated dialogue, and conflict management,” he explains. 

Mediation is highly effective when resolving family disputes, as he has found in his practice. “Mediation allows the parties to come together and talk about things in an informal manner,” says Ibrahim. “Through the exploration mediation allows, people are able to say what they want to say without any filter and open up.” 

For Ibrahim, the future of mediation looks very promising. He hopes that the Churchill judgment will encourage other countries to further adopt mediation but believes there is a lot to be done to raise awareness about mediation’s advantages. “The future looks bright. We still need to educate more people across the world about the mediation process and what mediation entails. I also believe that we need to encourage parties who are involved in other processes such as arbitration to consider taking part in mediations,” he continues. 

Accessibility due to technology has also changed the mediation landscape. “We do a lot of virtual proceedings, so access to mediation has never been so easy. With the use of apps like Zoom, you can very easily and efficiently conduct mediations with people from across the world. The future looks very positive, but I think more awareness needs to be raised.” 

Ibrahim has witnessed hesitation in using mediators who aren't also lawyers in some disputes. In a recent dispute he was involved in, one of the parties suggested bringing in a mediator. As someone with extensive experience in the industry and an expert in conflict management the proposed mediator would have been well-placed to understand the dispute’s complexities. Initially, there was pushback, Ibrahim explains. “The other party’s counsel said, well, she’s not a lawyer.” 

The focus needs to be on mediators’ expertise, and more awareness about the advantages of mediation would certainly help move towards this. Diversity is a huge strength in mediation, argues Ibrahim. “We need to have mediators coming from different walks of life, and people from different professional industries. If we can focus on having a more diverse set of mediation practitioners that will help enhance the future of mediation. I think diversity is crucial in mediation, especially to help people resolve their disputes.”   

Ibrahim Hussain MCIArb is an Imam, mediator, arbitrator, entrepreneur, and author. He is the founder of Sulha Solutions, and he serves as a member and arbitrator at the Toronto Commercial Arbitration Society, and the International Chamber of Commerce Canada Arbitration Committee. As a Faculty Member of the Canadian Collaborative for Engagement and Conflict Management (CCEM), he works with faith-based organisations to deliver certificate courses for faith leaders in mediation and conflict management. He is a graduate of the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. 

Interested in learning more about mediation? Find out more about Ciarb's In-Person Introduction to Mediation course. For those interested in distance-learning, we also have spaces available on our Virtual Module 1 Mediation Training & Assessment course.