Dignity and Culture in Dispute Resolution
This paper adopts a definition of human dignity that highlights the importance of recognition and respect. These two concepts are important in dispute resolution processes particularly where cultural differences exist between parties or between a party and the third-party decision-maker or dispute resolution practitioner. Although cultural differences are not in themselves causes of conflict and should indeed be celebrated, because culture and identity are intricately linked, cultural differences negatively influence disputes and lead to intractability. Cultural differences may also affect a dispute resolution process and its outcome particularly in relation to parties' engagement in, and perception of, the process. To prevent negative implications of cultural differences, dignity in form of respect and recognition is important. These two concepts may also form the basis of procedural justice which when present, enhances satisfaction in a decision-making process by giving effect to voice. This paper explores how cultural differences may diminish voice quality and how respect and recognition may lead to empowerment thus improving the quality of voice and in turn, both process and outcome. It discusses the elements of respect and recognition steps that may be taken by third-parties to accord dignity to parties.
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