Lynn Cole serves as President of Mediators Beyond Borders Internationa (MBB), having been one of the founding board members.
What is MBB?
In the fall of 2006, a group of nine men and women, all committed and committed mediators attending a major mediation conference, met in a hotel room in Philadelphia to discuss a shared vision. Two highly-respected mediators in the then-blossoming field of mediation called the group together – one, a visionary, prolific and internationally recognized author of several mediation books; the other also a writer and a mediator skilled in building mediation organizations globally. Together they explained their vision, a simple one: develop local and sustainable capacity for avoiding and healing from conflict in partnership with the very people in communities who are at risk of violent conflict or who are suffering the aftermath of conflict. Many in the growing community of international mediation called the initial Mediators Beyond Borders (MBB) group naive, or, worse yet, arrogant in its philosophy. But many other mediators around the world were immediately drawn to the vision, both altruistically and by a deep and abiding belief that the capacity for building peace can be accomplished person by person, community by community.
Lynn Cole speaks at United Nations about Mediators Beyond Borders
Thus, MBB, a tax-exempt, not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization with no real financial funding, but with countless hours of work by its founders, became a reality. No member of its board of directors has ever received any form of compensation and each continues to donate hundreds of work hours annually as well as financially. Importantly, in order to accomplish MBB’s mission of building local skills for peace and promoting mediation worldwide, its volunteers who implement MBB projects continue to donate their time and treasure worldwide.
MBB only works in communities in which it is invited to participate and collaborate with partner organizations, including local communities, universities, professional groups, not-for-profit organizations and others. Recognizing that no one can impose their cultural beliefs or practices or identify the needs of another, MBB’s collaborative efforts are defined by its partners and the organizations, communities, and leaders with whom it works. Together, they partner to achieve sustainability in their cooperative, capacity-building efforts.
Mediation as a process has proliferated globally and finds its best and unique expression when defined by each society. Therefore, MBB defines mediation broadly to include all types of mediation and related practices such as dialogue, mindfulness, peace circles and trauma healing, among others. MBB’s welcomes volunteers from all related practices and professional disciplines and, its corps of volunteers include doctors, nurses, psychologists, sociologists, engineers, educators, architects, and artists.
Lynn Cole speaks at Mediators Beyond Borders
MBB’s projects are the soul of its work. In its brief seven years of its existence, MBB’s vision of building a more peace-“able” world has implemented capacity-building projects in over three continents. With some exceptions, the men and women who travel to and work in MBB projects around the world do so on their own time and personally finance MBB’s project work. In 2012, 28 project team members donated 1,474 hours valued at over $208,000.00 to seven projects. These hours are expected to be even greater in 2013. MBB volunteers are the “heart” of MBB.
In its short seven years, MBB has touched the lives of thousands of people by sharing and building all types of mediation and conflict resolution and peace-building skills in projects in the continent of North America (Somali refugees in Pittsburg, PA, survivors of Hurricane Katrina, immigrants in Los Angles); in Africa (Liberia, Western Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone and Kenya) and in South America (Ecuador and Columbia). It has reached out to communities in Nepal and Greece and Israel. It has championed the use of mediation for conflicts in climate change issues with the United Nations. (To learn more about our projects, please read more in the attached Addendum, MBBB Project).
Lynn Cole speaks at Mediators Beyond Borders
MBB’s growing success in partnering with local organizations and in gaining the support of like-minded organizations is growing. In addition to partnering with local organizations in our projects (see Project Addendum), MBB’s ability to attract international support is amply demonstrated by the partners supporting MBB’s annual Congress. The sixth annual Congress was the first international one, held in Istanbul, Turkey in the fall of 2013. Attended by over 200 mediators and peace builders from over 40 countries, the Congress garnered support from 14 international organizations including local Rotary District 2420, United Nations Development Program for Turkey and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
MBB has as one of its important goals the continuation of developing meaningful partnerships with like-missioned organizations. In support of this goal, MBB in 2014 is expected to launch its Global Action Network (“GAN”). Conflict resolution practitioners, mediators, educators, and related professionals of all types and genres will be invited to join this international website designed to actively network globally for the promotion of peace and conflict resolution. Likewise, another new strategic initiative, MBB Services, is expected to interface with peace-related NGOs worldwide to assist them in providing mediation and related conflict-resolution services through its myriad of expert MBB volunteers and members.
MBB lives its mission by working with partners – person by person, community by community – to share and teach mediation and conflict resolution skills. As Nelson Mandela has said, Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
In 2005, Ms. Cole served as a Mediation Specialist for USAID – ABA/CEELI, and was appointed to work with the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice and a Mediation Committee to assist in designing and implementing a mediation program for the country. In addition to assisting in drafting a Uniform Register, she authored procedural and ethical, and educational Rules pursuant to the Bulgarian Mediation Act of December 2005. She prepared course components and assisted in Advanced Training of Bulgarian mediators. (April- July 2005)
In 2006 she worked as an ADR Specialist in Amman, Jordan with USAID/ABA. She assisted in the implementation and development of a court-related Pilot Mediation Program, one of the first in the Middle East. Her assignments, working with Judicial Mediation Committee and the Ministry of Justice included: design and physical construction of a Mediation Center in the Amman Palace of Justice; drafting rules, forms, surveys and regulations for the Court Pilot Program; developing Introduction to ADR training for the Judicial Institute of Jordan; conducting mediation training for Arab Women’s Legal Network and judges; and, drafting and training of Standards of Conduct for Mediators. (March – June 2006)
Jordanian US Training Program
Following her service in Amman, Jordan, she designed and implemented a USAID/ABA Mediation Training Program for a Jordanian delegation including judges and Ministry of Justice officials. She hosted the 7-day training program in Tampa and Tallahassee, Florida in July 2006.
In April 2007, she designed all of the elements of a court-related Pilot Mediation Program in Gjilan, Kosovo. Serving as a Mediation Specialist with USAID/NCSC, she prepared recommendations to judges on: general mediation procedures and forms; recommendations on selection of mediator trainees; education requirements for mediators; mediator training requirements; provisions for referring cases to mediation; mediation procedures for recording case intakes, case processing, and case disposition; mediation confidentiality; creation of a mediation steering committee; grievance procedures, and mediation fees.
Mediators Beyond Borders
Ms. Cole is a Founding Member and a Director on the Board of Mediators Beyond Borders. MBB is a non-profit, humanitarian organization established to partner with communities worldwide to build their conflict resolution capacity for preventing, resolving and healing from conflict. This partnership involves the design and implementation of sustainable peacebuilding initiatives responsive to the needs and culture of the communities, and to the history of each conflict. MBB partners with NGOs, universities, political and activist groups, community organizations, professional societies, environmental, commercial and other entities worldwide to develop skills for group facilitation, public dialogue, strategic planning, collaborative negotiation, peer mediation, restorative justice, and public policy consensus building. To contact MBB, visit the website at mediatorsbeyondborders.org.