In December 2002, the International Judicial Academy (IJA) organized a two week seminar attended by three judges, a lawyer, a manager and a representative of the Ministry of Justice in Romania. The seminar had as partners the USA Embassy in Bucharest and the Ministry of Justice in Romania; it took place in January-February 2003 in Washington DC and its main objective was to train the participants in the mediation field and enable them to implement and to develop a mediation program in Romania.
The almost fifty years of communism drained all initiative from Romanians, forced to live their lives in patterns and to speak in slogans, with no possibility of expressing their thoughts or feelings. The year 1989 offered them the opportunity to shout for the rights that they had never thought of taking advantage of. And the slow process of rediscovering themselves started out.
First they have learned to litigate and to ask for their rights, trusting in the power of the law and of the judges and they were proud to do so. In time, they realized that going to court was not that good, that this was turning their lives upside down and that a court decision does not solve all the aspects of a conflict. Then they understood that suing someone is not necessarily something to be proud of.
In this social context, the Ministry of Justice founded in 2003 the Pilot Mediation Center in Craiova through the intermediary of Craiova First Instance Court and Craiova Tribunal with the support of the United States Embassy in Romania and Dolj Bar Association.
The purpose of the Center was to offer an alternative to the parties involved in a dispute so they can find an amiable solution and to unburden a part of the high caseload registered in Craiova courts. Initiated as an experiment, in order to have an image of how mediation works in Romania and to offer a support for the justification of the law regarding this profession, the Mediation Center in Craiova multiplied the ways of acting in favor of mediation.
The Mediation Center in Craiova started its activity in November 2003 when Craiova First Instance Court and Craiova Tribunal referred the first cases to mediation. Up to now, there have been over 1,000 mediations registered within our center. The mediation process was available to parties that were in conflict, whether they had cases in courts or not. In a private environment, the mediators within the Association the Mediation Center in Craiova have had as parties, families, representatives of ethnic communities, public figures, neighbors, representatives of companies or other organizations, victims and aggressors. The favorable results that we have reached in 70% of the cases encouraged us to continue.
The Association the Mediation Center in Craiova was founded on the 14th of August 2003 and its main purpose is to support the activity of the Mediation Center in Craiova, to promote mediation, to train mediators and to implement this profession at a national level.
Thus, in order to ensure a unitary approach of all the fields that interfere with the mediator profession, we have developed national awareness programs on the benefits of mediation and on training mediators. The Mediation Center in Craiova together with the USA Embassy in Romania, the Ministry of Justice and The Dolj Bar Association organized training courses in which 400 lawyers from all the counties of Romania were trained as professional mediators.
Together with the same partners, we followed up with seminars dedicated to the courts in each county. These seminars were a real success, resulting in promoting mediation in courts and in determining judges to be more open to this alternative method.
The Association the Mediation Center in Craiova realized that in order to help the process of transforming the social environment in Romania and to influence people’s mentality, one needs to act constantly at the level of each county. Thus, it became the initiator and a founding member of the Union of the Mediation Centers in Romania that now counts 43 mediation centers all over the country. Four members of our center representing the federation of the Union of the Mediation Centers in Romania were part of the first Mediation Council. The Mediation Council was formed of nine members, it was founded according to the Law no. 192/2006 and it coordinates the mediation activity at a national level. Thus, our involvement in the process of implementing mediation in Romania advanced to the consulting stage in regard to the promulgation of the mediation law, and to the direct involvement in the decisional process regarding the organization of the mediator profession.
As a necessary stage in the growth of this new profession, the Association the Mediation Center in Craiova has organized international congresses and conferences attended by experienced mediators and important political and judicial figures from this country and from abroad (the USA Ambassador and the Great Britain Ambassador in Bucharest, members of the Romanian Government and Parliament, presidents of courts, etc.) The debates generated change and progress for the profession of mediator in Romania.
In performing the mediation, consulting, training and promotion activities initiated by the Association the Mediation Center in Craiova we have as partners: The United States of America Embassy in Romania, the USA State Department, The Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Education, the Association of Judges and Prosecutors in Romania, Dolj County Council, the Court of Appeal in Craiova, Dolj Bar Association, The National Agency for Employment and other state institutions and non-governmental organizations.
The social changes in Romania sometimes have a chaotic rhythm that is difficult to understand. The transition from the idea of the state deciding over the life of individuals to the idea that each individual has the power to decide for oneself supposes going through an awareness process and rediscovering their inner resources.
The Association the Mediation Center in Craiova continues to improve the ways of helping people and other entities that are in conflict. Our mediators work in an appropriate environment in which the confidentiality of the mediation process is guaranteed and they benefit from top training and continuous learning from international resources (trainings, books, related relevant materials). We are involved in studies developed by international organizations in the field of mediation (ADR Center in Rome, member of JAMS International) and our Association is a member of GEMME – the European Association of Judges for Mediation and we have organized their international conferences in Romania.
The activity of initial and continuous training of mediators is made by professional mediators that have used their experience and knowledge to bring more value to this course.
The experience that we had gained by now enabled us to come up with practical proposals of adapting the mediation law to the present context for a better enforcement of this law according to the rhythm of the society.
The projects started at a local level have expanded and diversified, addressing more social categories. Our attention is directed towards the school environment, consumers, unemployed people, the academic environment, city councils and other institutions. All our projects that gain more and more substance year after year are integrated in a non-aggressive movement of changing mentalities.
As we develop more projects together with our partners, the access of the public to the alternative methods of solving conflict is easier and easier. And people start to find appropriate solutions for their needs.
Association Craiova Mediation Center was recognized as being of public utility by the Government Decision no.103/18.02.2009