Making Mediation in Minsk a Festive Affair

Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Dr.Laney presents the presentation on Family Mediation to participants of III International Mediation Fest in Minsk

After four years of hard work and collaboration, a Belarusian professor turned her vision into a reality by launching the first International Festival of Mediation in Belarus. Since its creation in 2016, the Festival has grown to include more than 500 participants from different countries who gather to discuss current issues in mediation development, share experiences, and establish professional connections for project collaboration. 

As the Associate Professor of Psychology and Conflictology, Head of the Laboratory of Mediation and Practical Conflictology, and Head of the Mediation Service of the Russian State Social University branch in Minsk, Marina Boyko, PhD, is passionate about mediation and its applications in various fields. In 2012, Boyko participated in USAID’s Community Connections (ComCon) exchange program on workforce development in Chicago, where she learned about U.S. best practices in mediation. Inspired by the trip and the connections she made, Boyko subsequently reached out to Belarusians on the 2014 ComCon trip to find opportunities to bring these ideas from the United States back to Belarus. By organizing visits of American mediators to Belarus and translating mediation literature into Russian, Boyko and ComCon alumni laid the groundwork for what would become Minsk’s International Festival of Mediation. 

In 2016, through the support of the ComCon Alumni Grant Program, Boyko co-collaborated on a project that resulted in the translation of a book on family financial mediation. She and her ComCon colleagues also successfully organized a visit by Frank Caldwell Laney, a certified mediator in the field of family and organizational mediation at the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission, member of the Academy of Family Mediators, and Adjunct Professor at Campbell School of Law. They had befriended Mr. Laney in 2014 during their three-week ComCon mediation program in Raleigh, North Carolina. On May 12, 2016, Bokyo and five ComCon alumni kicked off the first International Mediation Fest, “Conflict Resolution in the Present Context,” which included presentations on various methodologies in mediation theory and practice. The event was attended by 115 participants and 15 experts from Germany, Russia, the United States, and Belarus. 

Given the festival’s popularity and success, Boyko and her fellow organizers found that there was a high demand for an international mediation platform. As a result, they decided to make the Festival an annual event. 

In May 2017, Boyko and several ComCom alumni put on the second International Mediation Fest, “Remedial Culture of Relationships,” hosted by the Minsk branch of the Russian State Social University. This event focused on a completely new area of mediation for Belarus and gathered 193 participants from across the world. The third Festival, held in May 2018, elevated the Minsk Mediation Fest to an even greater global scale through its branding, website, and new programming structure. This festival offered new formats for discussions and events including pre- and post-seminars, open-space sessions, and “night-owl” lectures. There were over 250 participants representing a host of countries, including the United States, Germany, Great Britain, Poland, Estonia, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.

Through the connections made and lessons learned during USAID’s ComCon program, Boyko created an open dialogue platform for Belarusians to engage globally in the mediation field. In May 2019, Boyko spearheaded the fourth festival, which focused on organizational and business mediation, and attracted over 300 participants.

Last updated: June 30, 2020

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