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Cablegate: Group to Bring Us-Style Alternative Dispute

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R 080648Z DEC 06
FM AMCONSUL LAGOS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8258
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 8099

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SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/W
STATE FOR INR/AA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KDEM NI
SUBJECT: GROUP TO BRING US-STYLE ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE
RESOLUTION TO NIGERIA


1. (SBU) Summary: In an early November meeting with the
Consul General, U.S. experts in alternative dispute
resolution (ADR) outlined their plans to launch a new program
in ADR and conflict resolution (CR) in partnership with
Nigerian Law School and the Negotiation Conflict Management
Group. Efforts to promote ADR have the potential to counter
Nigeria's current climate of "winner take all" politics and
to enhance the rule of law as well as sanctity of contracts
and political tolerance. End summary.

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U.S. ADR Experts Outline Their Plan
-----------------------------------

2. (U) In an early November meeting with the Consul General
(CG), U.S. experts in alternative dispute resolution (ADR)
outlined their plans to launch a program of ADR and conflict
resolution (CR) in Nigeria. The experts included: Judge
Alexander Williams III of the Superior Court of Los Angeles;
Peter Robinson, Managing Director of the Institute of Dispute
Resolution at the Pepperdine School of Law; Mahmoud Salhi,
Assistant Professor of Law at California State-Dominguez
Hills; and David Hosmer, Mediator.

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3. (U) Robinson told the Consul General that Pepperdine
University's ADR program is developing an international
focus, with emphasis on Nigeria. The program will
concentrate on training mediators and delivering ADR/CR
services in Nigeria. Robinson said he was impressed with the
ADR/CR Nigeria already has in place, and planned to visit
additional programs during their trip.

--------------------------------------------- ----
Conflict Management Group May Be Nigerian Partner
--------------------------------------------- ----

4. (SBU) Group members told the CG they find impressive the
efforts and motivation of the Negotiation Conflict Management
Group's (NCMG) founder, Kehinde Aina, and of retired Supreme
Court Justice Kayode Eso, Chairman of the NCMG. Judge
Williams also found the NCMG board distinguished and capable,
and the overall quality of the lawyers strong. The group
noted the NCMG has already established a 5000 square foot
building in Lagos devoted to the advancement of ADR/CR.

--------------------------------------------- --
Pepperdine-Nigerian Law School LLM Contemplated
--------------------------------------------- --

5. (U) The group wants to ensure that Nigerian lawyers are
trained in ADR. Judge Williams feels that going through
Nigeria's law school, the Nigerian Law School in Lagos, to
establish a program with the American Bar Association (ABA)
and Pepperdine School of Law, would promote use of ADR in
Nigeria.

6. (U) During the first year of the program, Robinson wants
to hold four 2-week ADR classes in Lagos. However, costs are
high, and the program must be self-supporting, Robinson
noted. The group will explore ways to partner with Nigerian
and U.S. businesses, and may approach the Nigerian government
as well.

----------------------------------
Problem-Solving Through Compromise
----------------------------------

7. (SBU) Judge Williams expressed concern that he had been
asked to give a lecture to Nigerian judges entitled "ADR on
the Bench, Promise or Threat?" Williams said ADR is a tool
to enhance judges' ability to resolve cases, not a threat.
The Consul General told the group the title reflects the view
that politics and law must be a zero-sum game. ADR, built on
compromise, provides a different framework for
problem-solving in Nigeria, he said. The current political
situation has evolved because enough actors do not realize it
is counterproductive to view everything through such a
conflictual prism, the CG told the group.

8. (SBU) Responding to a question from our guests about the
role of lawyers in promoting social change and justice in
Nigeria, the CG stated that, in the past, some attorneys have
been mercenary, lending themselves and their talents to
create legal arguments in support of extant military regimes.
However, those attorneys have been counterbalanced by some
very distinguished lawyers who have been at the forefront of
democratization in Nigeria. Most of Nigeria's well-known
human rights organizations were founded by lawyers and these

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lawyers are among the most respected members of Nigerian
society, the CG noted. Thus, plans to focus on ADR and the
legal profession as a vehicle for a wider social change fit
in with this aspect of Nigeria's legal profession's history.

9. (SBU) Comment: Post sees efforts to promote ADR as a way
to link American and Nigerian professionals and institutions
of higher learning in a quest to bring greater respect for
the rule of law, enhance conflict resolution in Nigeria and
promote the sanctity of contracts. End comment.

BROWNE

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