Speakers at a conference on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) have called on the government and other interest groups to resort to the use of ADR in resolving conflicts to ensure harmony for national development.
It was their view that political, ethnic, chieftaincy and land disputes could be best settled through the ADR process and mechanisms, which were also cost-effective and time-saving.
The immediate past Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, the Very Rev. Professor Emmanuel Martey, and the Member of Parliament (MP) for Adentan, Mr Yaw Buaben Asamoa, made the call at the fourth annual general conference of the Ghana National Association of ADR Practitioners (GNAAP) in Accra last Saturday.
The conference, which was on the theme: “Post-election: Reconciling the nation, the role of ADR practitioners”, also marked the launch of the association’s constitution.
Very Rev. Martey
The Very Rev. Prof. Martey noted that although the ADR process had been integrated into the country’s judicial system, it had not totally been embraced by the public and some legal practitioners.
“The public does not know the full benefits of the ADR process and some are even discouraged by their lawyers from resorting to it. Some judges and lawyers are not open to the ADR programme and think it will take over their jobs. There is, therefore, the need for education to change such perceptions and build public confidence,” he said.
“All the efforts so far made to resolve conflicts in the northern part of the country have been aimed at ‘peacekeeping’, instead of ‘peace-making’, which is an ADR process that can help bring feuding factions together,” he noted.
The Very Rev. Prof. Martey said it was time for groups, including political parties, to set up their own internal conflict resolution mechanisms to settle disputes and not always rush to the police and the law courts for redress.
For his part, Mr Asamoa urged ADR practitioners to be visible and vibrant in their practice to make them relevant to the public.
He also advised members of the association to make their reports available and create awareness of their roles and responsibilities.
In a speech read on his behalf, the President of GNAAP, Mr Robert Sarfo Mensah, said although there were some shortcomings in the implementation of the mediation and arbitration processes by some chiefs, ADR was a better system than litigating in court.
“More often than not, lawyers and judges take over cases, handle them in a manner that leaves litigants as outsiders and they eventually go home not satisfied and the tension and acrimony linger on,” he said.
Mr Mensah recommended that the current approach to fighting illegal mining in the country should include ADR mechanisms to make for peaceful outcomes.
He urged the Minister of justice and Attorney-General, Ms Gloria Akuffo, to ensure the implementation of the ADR Act.