Role of the Mediator

Frank Dukes

Director, Institute for Environmental Negotiation, University of Virginia

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

We're here to work with you, we're here to help you make you choices, but we're not here to take your choices away from you. If your choice is to go off by yourself and not participate, we respect those choices. We can't make those choices for you.

If your choice is after six months that you can't agree with this, then we're not going to try to make you agree to this. We can help you make a better informed decision, and one that incorporates the needs of different people in ways that are more likely to be effective, fair, and legitimate.

How do we make sure that they are able to understand the truth and the meaning of what a particular issue has, or brings for somebody, or what somebody brings to a particular issue? What sort of learning can we create, what kind of new knowledge do we have to bring into that, and can we do so in ways that keep everything from falling apart, because a lot of times these are very precarious situations.


For me, it is trying to develop a relationship with the people that I am participating with so that they know that I know what I am there for. We are not there to force any body into something. We are not there to have them make a certain set of decisions. We are not there to make them agree. We are there to help them approach a problem in a certain way that we think is working with them, and then defining what is fair, legitimate, and what is going to be effective too.