Source: (2007) Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution. 8:487-509.

This paper considers how the multiple realities of dispute resolution in any environment affect the work of conflict resolution practitioners. Conflict resolution practitioners are almost always invited in by representatives of the formal legal system, and their work generally focuses on managing – and perhaps reforming – this system. In practice, they cannot ignore the existence of parallel informal systems of conflict resolution that may undermine or distract from the formal state system. These may include structured alternatives to law, such as religious tribunals or community mediation programs. There may be other, more informal but equally significant family or community-based processes which provide their own social order outside the legal system. Whatever form an informal system takes, it is a mistake to overlook or underestimate its impact on the formal legal process and any reforms or innovations planned there. Whether invited to assess existing systems, or to develop new processes or models, practitioners and consultants often find themselves mediating between formal and informal systems already in place. (excerpt)

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