Scaling-Up the Peace Building Work. Project Highlight: MBBI-New York

MBBI-NY is one of Mediators Beyond Borders International’s most stalwart and active Regional Groups. Founded in 2011 by Brad Roth and Patricia Araujo, MBBI-NY has been a model of consistency, innovation, and dedication to building local skills for peace and promoting mediation worldwide. Brad is the current Chair of MBBI-NY and has been leading it’s events in partnership with Professor Maria Volpe of John Jay College of Criminal Justice.  

On the first Tuesday of nearly every month since 2011, MBBI-NY has hosted meetings that are open to the public at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. Hundreds of lawyers, students, and other professionals interested in learning more about mediation-related initiatives, both domestic and abroad, have attended MBBI-NY’s meetings. In those meetings, MBBI-NY provides updates on MBBI’s international projects and helps those who are interested in becoming involved take the next steps and join MBBI’s work.

Being a conduit for New York and New Jersey residents to connect with MBBI’s international work is only one focus of MBBI-NY. Over the years since its founding MBBI-NY has capitalized on the international diversity of New York City to develop two unique initiatives. Their goal was to find ways for residents of New York and New Jersey to engage in rewarding, local projects with international ramifications.

The first initiative helped strengthen MBBI’s presence and advocacy at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.  The group attended meetings and conducted research related to MBBI’s special consultative status with the UN’s Economic and Social Council. As a result, members have greater access, influence, and involvement in the council’s work to advance sustainable development worldwide. As well, those affiliated with MBBI-NY became involved with the Commission on the Status of Women. You can find out more about MBBI’s work at the UN here.

MBBI-NY’s second initiative is with diaspora communities in New York City, specifically the Liberian Diaspora project. At the invitation of the Liberian diaspora community, MBBI-NY has partnered with John Jay College of Criminal Justice to offer free mediation training and workshops to Liberian community members in New York City. These training and workshops have helped build mediation capacity in the diaspora community on US soil as well as inform how members of that community engagement in their home country.

This project is the fruition of several years of work and Brad emphasized the importance of taking enough time for relationship-building: “We want our work to be authentic. Rather than coming in and saying what we think should happen, we want to see what the needs and interests of the diaspora community are and if they match with what MBBI-NY could offer.”

Brad is currently co-authoring with Maria Volpe an article on the Liberian Diaspora Initiative for publication in the Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution. “We think this project is ripe for duplication,” he said. “It’s about scaling up and finding the people power we need to do this work with other communities.” Through this kind of collaboration and equal partnership with diaspora communities, Brad feels MBBI-NY can have a significant impact and provide opportunities for locals to engage in meaningful work.

We’re a growing and evolving initiative seeking to co-create with those who are also interested in effecting local and international change.

In addition to continuing diaspora community work, UN advocacy, and hosting public meetings, MBBI-NY leadership hopes to connect with like-minded organizations to provide a platform to amplify their message. A recent example of this kind of collaboration: MBBI-NY and John Jay College of Criminal Justice co-sponsored several CitizenDEMOS events. You can find out more about CitizenDEMOS’ mission to revitalize democratic citizenship through publicly offering facilitated dialogues and mediation practices and training here.

Article by Byron Wild, MBBI Writer