By: Fatoumata Fofana Bility, MBBI writer, July 20, 2018.
A global peace advocate has identified dialogue as the most effective approach to peace-building and conflict resolution. Ramon Tena Pera believes resolutions reached through dialogue are “much more sustainable” as it relates to gaining and retaining world peace. He stressed the need for mediation especially considering today’s soaring conflict dynamics; remarking that mediation plays a critical role in preventing disputes from exploding into violent conflicts. It is against this backdrop that he believes mediation is critical to world peace because it is a perfect connector in any conflict situation regardless of experience, context or dynamics. It is effective at fostering peace and harmony at home and at work, he added.
Through dialogue, according to Ramon, emotions, interests, needs and wants are highlighted and acknowledged. This, he said, paves the way for consensus building or exploring possible options for resolution. The bottom line is that mediation has everything to do with the culture of peace; “it is a way of life, a way of communication,” he said.
Ramon did not mince his words when asked why he thinks mediation is preferable to litigation or other forms of negotiation. “Mediation is peace; litigation is war. In mediation, you are seeking peace. In litigation, you go to war,” he said. Besides, “in litigation or arbitration, there’s a loser and a winner. The winner may still feel like a loser because s/he may not get what s/he truly wanted. So, s/he may win, yet be very displeased or unhappy. Secondly, all solutions that are reached through dialogue are much more sustainable.”
He cited Andorra’s (his homeland) adoption and implementation of a mediation law as a classic example of how and why mediation wins:
The way the mediation law was created was by setting up a group comprising all the stakeholders in the society and advancing [ideas] through consensus. Through dialogue, we discussed the different articles of the law and decided the contents.
For Ramon, this was mediation in action, especially that such high-level public policy was successfully formulated through dialogue and consensus building among multiple stakeholders with competing interests. Andorra’s 2015 mediation law promotes out-of-court dispute resolution through collaboration.
Meanwhile, as a career mediator, being able to effectively capture lawyers’ attention on the need to give mediation a chance remains a major roadblock stalling the work of most mediators around the world, Ramon further explained. “When lawyers are trained, they have a different perspective of conflict” which makes it “really hard to explain to them what mediation seeks to achieve” he stated.
Ramon’s ability to transform this challenge into a learning opportunity, however, is worth noting:
The way I overcome this challenge is to never consider lawyers as enemies. This [in itself] is mediation—you need to prove to the other side that you are both colleagues and that the problem is the conflict you are both seeking to resolve. You must cooperate to win.
As such, Ramon tries to not get offended by a lawyer’s attempt to shrug off his proposal for mediation. Ramon remains empathetic, persistent, and persuasive, and that has always “worked for” him.
He therefore admonished his fellow mediators to always exercise patience and empathy in their advocacies. He urged them to always “understand lawyers’ position, their needs, their interests and emotions” and remember that “you cannot promote peace by being aggressive.”
Affiliation with MBBI
Ramon joined MBBI in 2017 and has since remained an active member of the organization. He was attracted to MBBI by the organization’s grassroots strategy to peace-building, describing it as a more realistic approach. “This really inspired me,” he said, in addition to the tools and online resources offered such as the monthly webinars, and the opportunity to connect with other mediators around the world.
Ramon Tena is the director of Dialoga, an organization that is primarily focused on fostering world peace through dialogue. His passion for peace is deeply rooted in the sole desire to help countries or societies emerging from war to bridge new and existing gaps to peacefully coexist. Currently, Dialoga provides mediation, conflict management, leadership, non-violent communication, and active listening trainings to key public entities in Andorra. The organization also provides intra-organizational mediation services such as advocating for better work environment, among many others.
Ramon is also a member of MBBI’s Climate Change Policy Project and has presented through the Child and Youth Alternative Dispute Resolution Working Group (C&Y ADR WG).
He is also fully involved with the Council of Europe, focusing primarily on its Youth Peace Camp project. This project presents Ramon with the opportunity of working with young people and youth organizations from conflict-stricken regions to use dialogue as a conflict transformation tool.