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Neighborhood-centered Conflict Mediation in the Netherlands: An Instrument for Social Cohesion – Part I

Holterman, Thom
June 4, 2015

Source: (2001) Contemporary Justice Review 4(1): 41-48

In the big cities of the Netherlands, the neighborhoods of working class people are very heterogeneous. This is not caused by differences I lifestyle but mainly by ethnic diversity. More than half of the people are of foreign origin many of whom do not speak the Dutch Language. This diversity, and the fact that in these areas someone’s home is considered his castle, are causes of conflicts between tenants. These conflicts have not only increased in number but also in their psychological impact on residents. Formal institutions of social justice (courts, police, professionals of housing corporations) are not capable of solving these conflicts. That is why two housing corporations in Rotterdam started an experiment with community mediation in 1997 through the use of multi-ethnic community boards. These boards function as mediatory panels for setting disputes between people in communities that are approximately 4000 residents large. Trained volunteers, living in the same community as the disputing parties, make up these representative boards. This form of alternative dispute resolution is both an attempt to rejuvenate the idea of community and a new way to try to conciliate differences between people in behalf of durable relationships


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