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International Mediation: World Bank Affiliate Receives Commercial ADR Grant (Web)

An initiative managed by the World Bank Group's private investment bank, the International Finance Corp. in Washington, D.C., will receive a $600,000 grant for a European alternative dispute resolution program focused on mediation from the Canadian International Development Agency.
The grant, according to a March 30 IFC release, represents initial funding for mediation over the next year in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia and Montenegro, within 12 months. 
The Canadian grant comes from a federal agency that plans and implements most of the nation’s development cooperation program targeted at reducing world poverty.  The grant will go to the IFC’s Southeast Europe Enterprise Development program, which it describes as a “multidonor initiative.”  The IFC promotes “sustainable private sector investment in developing countries.” 
The five-year Southeast Europe initiative “intends to roll out the program over the next four years and set up 10 mediation centers” in Albania, Bosnia, Macedonia, and Serbia, according to the IFC, “with a possible extension to other countries in the region.” 
In the release, the initiative’s general manager, Alexander Paine, says that the “mediation program has introduced a new concept of dispute settlement to the region. The new funding from our Canadian partners will enable [the Southeast Europe Enterprise Development] to expand mediation, providing small and medium enterprises with a cheaper and faster alternative to courts.”
The mediation effort is an expansion of initiative’s ADR program, which according to the IFC release began in late 2003, and which has helped write mediation law in Southeast Europe.  The IFC says 130 mediators have been trained, and pilot mediation centers have been established.
One center, in the Bosnia city of Banja Luka, has mediated 130 cases with a 65% success rate, the IFC reports, “releasing close to $2 million in frozen commercial disputes.”  A Belgrade, Serbia, mediation center has resolved 293 disputes.
The IFC, which was founded by the World Bank in 1956, says that the “speed of the process continues to be one of the primary attractions of mediation.”  It explains that Bosnia’s courts average 600 days to resolve a commercial dispute, while the average settlement time for mediated cases is 2.4 hours.