The SMU Initiative for Dispute Resolution was established in late 2008, and is located within the School of Law. One of the objectives in establishing the Initiative is to provide a vehicle for research and teaching across the range of “alternative” dispute resolution procedures. While the Initiative is, for the purposes of administration and direction, part of the School of Law, its mandate is to foster such research and teaching activities across all the Schools and Departments at SMU, particularly as a number of academics in all Schools have been identified with research interests in dispute resolution.
The wider mandate of the Initiative will be to work with practitioners and professionals in dispute resolution, particularly arbitration and mediation, and to foster the objective of the Singapore Academy of Law and of the Government in promoting Singapore as the dispute resolution resource for the region. The objective recognises the potential of such processes to facilitate access to justice and effective resolution.
The Initiative also builds on the experience already gained both within the judicial system and in the wider community in the use of mediation and non-judicial processes. It will also build on the long and diverse traditions of mediation in all countries of the region.
In addition to research and teaching, the third objective of the Initiative will thus be collaborating with university, professional, governmental, non-governmental and inter-governmental agencies in the promotion of effective, collaborative forms of dispute resolution and access to justice. Part of that external role of the Initiative will be to host public lectures and seminars, and to establish an international conference.
The Initiative will also work with those same agencies in building local capacity in dispute management, for example where recent and ongoing conflicts constitute challenges to security.
The Initiative is headed by Practice Associate Professor Ian Macduff from the School of Law at SMU. Professor Macduff is a professional mediator and negotiator, with over 30 years of experience in this field. He has practised in negotiation and cross-cultural conflict resolution, being actively involved in training and capacity building in a number of countries.