Remedy Without Diagnosis: How to Optimize Results by Leveraging the Appropriate Dispute Resolution and Shared Decision-Making Process

By Mariana Hernandez-Crespo Gonstead

This Article aims to realize the untapped potential of the dispute resolution field beyond traditional understandings of access to justice for everyone’s benefit. It argues that, by developing skills, citizens can significantly contribute to altering the course of history in our global economy, especially in Latin America and Venezuela. It introduces and familiarizes citizens with the knowledge developed in the dispute resolution field for the past fifty years. As a new field, dispute resolution is rapidly growing and evolving. Even though the knowledge produced is vital to help us interact more effectively, the materials are complex, dispersed, and, in some cases, expensive to acquire. To this end, this Article introduces some of the key concepts and analytical frameworks developed in the field, which take culture into account to more effectively address conflict and engage our differences.

The dispute resolution field, when used in the context of access to justice, is reduced to addressing a single dispute outside courts. However, the dispute resolution field has more potential. It can help all of us by providing analytical frameworks so that we can process our present and future experiences addressing conflict. Without these analytical frameworks, we cannot process our experiences and generate the necessary knowledge to enhance our interactions. The goals are to develop citizens’ skills, help them gain awareness of the interdependent nature of our relationships, and equip them with the tools to better engage with conflict, thus maximizing their ongoing synergies.

Citizens must develop these skills on a daily basis at home and at work to more effectively face the complexities and challenges of interactions in the public square. Although these skills can be helpful for all, they are particularly relevant in countries and regions of the world where social conflict has reached unprecedented levels of volatility, such as Latin America and, more concretely, Venezuela. Governments alone cannot bring about stability to the sociopolitical arena. Only an organized civic society, equipped with conflict resolution and participatory capacity, can better stabilize and unlock the power of the whole.

Besides developing citizens’ capacities in the Latin American context, representative democracies need to be supplemented with “collaborative governance,” which assists the process of building the channels for citizen participation in the public square. The region can no longer wait— oscillating between revolutions and caudillos (strongmen) has proven to be futile. The time has come for all citizens to participate and move from “I have a dream” to “We have a dream.” Only then will the world see what Latin America can achieve when it moves from the noise produced by all the instruments playing at the same time—or the limited power of a single instrument playing a solo—to the music created when all instruments play together, realizing the power of the orchestra.