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The American Arbitration Organization is a non-profit organization which was setup in 1926 after the Federal Arbitration Act was passed by the U.S. House of Congress and was ascended by the then United States President Calvin Coolidge. The objective of the Act was to establish Arbitration services as a means of resolving disputes between parties, in-case the courts of law were un-successful at resolving them. (The American Association of Arbitration, 2007)
The American Arbitration Association with a core value on service and education works on the principles of Integrity, Conflict Management and Service. It's dedicated to providing effective, swift and economical means of resolving all forms of disputes. As a model organization (standard bearer and setter) they have set a code of ethics (standard and business) that is meant to ensure integrity in the service of Arbitration. The American Association of Arbitration has numerous product services that are custom made to cater for specific disputes. "They are the 'AAA Arbitration, AAA Education Services, AAA Election Services, AAA Independent Fact-Finding, AAA Med-Arb, AAA Mediation, AAA Negotiation and Meeting Facilitation, AAA Partnering, AAA Publications and ADR World.com'. (The American Association of Arbitration, 2007)
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The Association has signed co-operative arrangements with forty nations. The Association also has a staff base of at least seven hundred Arbitrators and Mediators, a panel of over eight thousand Arbitration and Mediators and over ninety boards of directors. The AAA ensures that it's level of service and integrity are constantly upheld, in the following way; In order to avoid conflict of interest, Arbitrators that are recommended by AAA and that are accepted by the parties in dispute dispense their service without necessarily consulting or acting on behalf of the Association, they independently observe the merits of the case and make decisions based on the case independently. The Association only takes an Administrators role, ensuring all rules that that govern the trade are strictly adhered to. (The American Association of Arbitration, 2007)
A Judicial Oversight panel has been set up to overseer all arbitrary cases; ensure that they dispense their duties fairly. Arbitrators are sworn to uphold all the codes of Ethics of Arbitration and likewise all Mediators are also sworn to uphold all the codes as per the rules of the 'Model Standards for Mediators'. An Arbitrator is required to volunteer any information that may jeopardize the case and that may lead to the compromising of the case, prior to starting a case e.g. If they (Arbitrator), are related to one of the parties in dispute or has worked for them, or are in business etc. Before any case commences, 'a list of nominated Arbitrators that are provided by the Association are given to the parties in dispute' for them to agree on one.
2. Conflict Management (Promoting): The American Association of Arbitration promotes the peaceful resolving of all issues by setting-up conferences, Alternative Disute Resolution (ADR) guides and publishing books on the subject. Through the Smart Solution Program the Association is able to resolve all employment disputes.
3. Confidentiality: Arbitration proceedings are always held in confidentiality, although the association does restrict the party members to uphold the code, but all AAA staff members are bound by the code of Ethics to strictly uphold confidentiality especially during proceedings.
4. Diversity: The AAA has wide variety of members that are drawn from various fields both in the public and in the private sector. They are able to bring in their respective skills in the field of Arbitration and Mediation. The fields include, Union Executives, Academic Leaders, Law Firm Partners and Business Executives.
5. Due Process and Fairness Standards: Any case that is UD$ 75, 000, is first reviewed by the Association, before the commencement of the proceedings. The AAA reserves the right to absorb itself from cases that do not honour contractual clauses with respect to the Consumer Due Process Protocol.
Types of Disputes handled by Arbitration and Mediation:
The trade of Arbitration and Mediation are very useful in our modern world since as imperfect human beings we are all prone to disputes and conflicts. Arbitration has been successfully used in resolving conflicts in:
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- Trade Disputes between different countries and different economic levels (Developed and Developing Countries disputing over trade subsidies).
- Trade Unions and various labour organizations. Where employees may have any issue with the employers over salaries, allowances, and any other benefits.
- Divorce Disputes. A couple may not be in a position to agree on how to split all their assets after the end of their marriage, Arbitration is often the only solution.
- Dispute between Countries with respect to the demarcation of boundaries or borders. An example is that of the very bitter dispute between the African countries of Eritrea and Ethiopia. Another example is the stand-off between the countries of Nigeria and Cameroon. Both examples had to be resolved through international arbitration, with depending on the party involved, very un-satisfying results.
Custody Cases. When a couple have terminated their marriage and are unable to agree on how to split the children, just as with the assets accumulated during the marriage, an Arbitrator has to be appointed to decide who will be awarded custody of the children, hopefully in their best interests. . (Conflict Research Consortium, 1998)
How the AAA could be used either in your current career or a career that you seek to pursue
Arbitration has many applications career wise, for those who are interested in handling corporate/family/criminal law as either litigating attorneys or as judges. For those interested in handling employment/labour matters they can definitely pursue a careeer in arbitration, since in the formal employment sector, disputes are bound to occur and the skills of an Arbitrator will be required.
For those interested in trade union issues, either in the capacity of a company secretary or as an executive trade unionist, Arbitration will be of benefit to them. For those interested in Finance, Arbitration will also be handy in handling for example security brokerage disputes, since most security firms insist on pre-contracted stipulation of Arbitration services in-case there is a dispute. This is done before the securities firm offers its services. Arbitration as a career is wide and it can be applicable in almost all aspects (Trade, Politics, and Divorce) of our modern world. (Conflict Research Consortium, 1998)
Drawbacks to mediation:
Mediation as a form of resolving disputes does have its own disadvantages.
Time Wasted: A swift Mediation process greatly depends on the mental attitude of the parties involved in the negotiation process, if both parties are willing to make concessions, then most likely the mediatory process will be swift, but unfortunately in most cases most people are unwilling to give up ground, they go to the negotiations with the mentality of grabbing as much as they can and making little compromises.
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Legally Binding: Once both parties have come to an agreement and they signed the agreement on paper, the document becomes a legally binding contract that cannot be broken, the document is finalises the agreement between both parties. The signed document forces both parties to abide by them. (The American Society of International Law, 2010)
A Poor/Compromised Mediator: Sometimes one may find him/herself stuck with a biased or compromised mediator who may in his capacity draw-up an agreement that is imperfect, or a mediator maybe in-experienced in the field of negotiations, his/her contribution to the negotiations will definitely have a negative effect on one of the parties.
Cost: The cost of maintaining the negotiation process is usually expensive, especially if none of the parties are willing to give ground and make concessions in the negotiations. If the negotiations fail, the disputing parties will have to take their dispute to court and in the process incur further expenses. (The American Society of International Law, 2010)
Dissatisfaction: Unsatisfactory, disappointing results are another major drawback of Mediation. In many cases the decisions do little to ease the tension between disputing parties. Some people would assume that decisions of the two a parties are a win situation, but in most cases there will always be a dissatisfied party, that will feel it was short-changed in the negotiations
Withdrawal: Another drawback with Mediations is that either party can decide to withdraw from the proceedings, especially if they feel that they will not achieve their aims with the proceedings. (The American Society of International Law, 2010)
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