Ramallah - The Palestinian Association for Empowerment and Local Development - REFORM in collaboration with the Palestinian Ministry of Justice and the Sawasya Joint Program through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) held the conference, titled "Alternative Dispute Resolution in Palestine: Enhancing Access to Justice and Security," in Ramallah on Wednesday, May 24th.

The conference brought together numerous local partners, practitioners and experts in alternative dispute resolution methods, as well as representatives from local authorities and women's organisations. Dignitaries in attendance included His Excellency Dr. Mohammad Al-Shalaldeh, the Minister of Justice; Her Excellency Dr. Amal Hamad, the Minister of Women's Affairs in Palestine; Dr. Khaled Ishtayeh, the Assistant Undersecretary for the Local Bodies Affairs at the Ministry of Local Government; and Dr. Christopher Decker, the Director of the Sawasya Joint Programme. Legal experts specialising in conflict management and resolution, arbitrators and practitioners of ADR methods also participated.

The participants and attendees advocate for the promotion of ADR methods through the implementation of policies that facilitate their usage. It is also imperative to raise citizens' awareness regarding their application, particularly in areas beyond the legal jurisdiction. This entails facilitating the establishment of arbitration units and ADR mechanisms within local authorities. Additionally, there is a need to enhance access to justice components for vulnerable and marginalised groups and empower women, specifically through the utilisation of ADR methods in Palestine.

During its sessions, the conference deliberated on the significance of ADR methods in areas beyond the legal jurisdiction of Palestine. It underscored the importance of employing alternative methods such as arbitration and mediation as supportive frameworks for the formal judiciary, emphasising their role in upholding human dignity, promoting civil harmony, the rule of law and safeguarding human rights, while considering gender equality. In the second session the participants explored the role of women in arbitration and discussed alternative dispute resolution methods. They also examined the challenges that prevent women from participating in conflict resolution, including cultural, societal and structural factors that limit their ability to manage and resolve disputes. In the third and final session, the participants focused on the effectiveness of establishing arbitration and mediation units in local authorities, drawing on the experience of chambers of commerce.

Based on the inputs, discussions and deliberations, the conference reached the following recommendations:
· Establishing institutional units specialised in alternative dispute resolution in accordance with existing laws in Palestine.
· Accelerating the adoption of the Mediation Law.
· Developing and providing guidance materials that explain the concept of alternative dispute resolution, how citizens can resort to these methods.
· Training and professional education for practitioners of alternative dispute resolution methods in areas outside the legal jurisdiction.
· Integrating tribal mediators operating in areas outside the legal jurisdiction by enhancing their capacity and qualifications, enabling them to become legal arbitrators.
· Legalising tribal discourse in a manner consistent with the legal and human rights framework.
· Supporting women's involvement in alternative dispute resolution methods, particularly arbitration, in areas outside the legal jurisdiction.
· Fostering continued partnership between civil society institutions, government agencies and relevant entities to address the situation of women in the field of alternative dispute resolution.
· Raising awareness among residents in areas outside the legal jurisdiction through conferences, seminars, workshops and legal sessions to emphasise the importance of alternative dispute resolution methods.
· Establishing arbitration and mediation units in local bodies to alleviate the judicial backlog experienced by Palestinian courts.
· Reviewing the Arbitration Law and procedural laws to meet the needs of local bodies and support the establishment of these units.
· Conducting awareness campaigns to raise awareness about arbitration and alternative dispute resolution methods in local authorities.
· Enhancing the knowledge of personnel in local bodies, especially in legal departments, about the importance of arbitration as a recourse in cases of disputes.
· Educating and training arbitrators in all fields and equipping them with the necessary skills to resolve disputes according to the law.
· Promoting collaboration between local bodies, civil society institutions and centres working in the field of arbitration and alternative dispute resolution.
· Promoting the role of media and allocating programmes to raise awareness about the importance of arbitration and the role of women in dispute resolution.
· Providing awareness, education and professional training programmes tailored to camps and villages to raise women's awareness and enhance their capacities in alternative dispute resolution methods.
· Expanding the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Ministry of Justice and providing it with the necessary financial resources and funding to establish courses and projects that contribute to the development of arbitration and the qualification of women arbitrators.
· Establishing partnerships between Palestinian universities, centres and institutions working in the field of arbitration. This is done with the aim of providing training programmes for students within tracks that develop their understanding and analysis of conflicts within alternative dispute resolution methods, promote concepts of gender equality and children's rights in using alternative dispute resolution methods.
·   Highlighting successful and pioneering models of women working in arbitration and alternative dispute resolution fields.

To access the full ending statement of the conference, please click here

End of Statement.