On July 13, the International Forum “Dialogue and Mediation as Instruments for Understanding in Ukrainian Society” was held in Kharkiv. The forum was organized within the “Mediation as the driving force for reconciliation in and beyond Ukrainian society” project implemented by East Europe Foundation in cooperation with ChildFund Deutschland e.V. and financed by the German Federal Foreign Office.

The main idea of the Forum with more then 80 participants representing NGOs, educational institutions, local authorities and media from Ukraine, experts from Moldova, Georgia and Germany, was to share experience and best practices on establishing dialogue and mutual understanding in Ukrainian society through the dissemination of mediation and dialogue tools, reconciliation and non-violent communication instruments.

The key topics of the Forum incuded the presentation of the general concept of mediation in a broad sense, from peacemaking to domestic conflicts, its types and influence in different social environments and contexts. Such activities as mediation and establishing dialogue is of crucial importance for educational institutions and local communities in the current situation. In addition, international experience and approaches to mediation and non-violent communication including means of building peace and establishing a dialogue were presented. In particular, experts from Germany, Moldova and Georgia Mrs. Irmtraud Kauschat (Germany) , a certified trainer non-violent communication (NVC), mediation and coaching, Mrs. Natalia Skurtul (Moldova/Transnistria),  journalist, Independent journalists center of Transnistria, Mrs. Tinatin Asatiani (Georgia),  coordinator, trainer, facilitator, NGO” Society of positive change” talked about the practical steps and measures they have taken to establish a dialogue between the communities of Moldova and Transnistria, Georgia, Abkhazia and Ossetia. Conflicts there have arisen a long time – more than 20 years, and the consequences of these conflicts have not been overcome so far. Therefore, the experts advised Ukrainian participants to study the existing experience, to supplement with their ideas on reconciliation and dialogue, and to prepare themselves for the long time to take this case. In addition, Mrs. Liana Khorovytska,   National Program Co-ordinator, OSCE Project Coordinator in Ukraine spoke about the OSCE mission and programs in Ukraine.

The second part of the Forum was practical: three workshops were held for different target audiences. The first workshop – for teachers – was devoted to the topic of mediation in schools and practices of the conflict resolution. The second workshop – for activists and NGOs- concerned the presentation and adaptation of international experience in using dialogue and mediation in conflicts, introduction of dialogue for mutual understanding using non-violent communication. The main point of the third workshop – for local authorities – was the issue of conflict resolution at the community level, in particular, what exactly can do local authorities to ensure the peaceful coexistence of residents in communities

In addition, a separate session was devoted to legal regulation of mediation which was covered by Kateryns Narovska, a member of the National Association of mediators Ukraine (Namu)