You are here: What we do International Family Mediation
For over 90 years, ISS intercountry casework has tackled cross-border family conflicts - including child abductions. From 2010 to 2018, ISS has developed a global programme focusing on International Family Mediation.
International family mediation aims to better protect children involved in parental conflicts that span national borders. ISS wants to raise awareness on the legal complexity of cross-border family cases and highlight that International Family Mediation can be a practical, efficient tool to solve cross-border family disputes and a preventive measure of child abductions.
Today, international State bodies such as the Hague Conference on Private International Law and the European Union recognise the importance of introducing family mediation in overruling legal proceedings as a way to solve cross-border conflicts. This recognition also reflects the political will to formalise international family mediation practice and to establish it as a complement to legal and judiciary avenues.
ISS's approach was to promote international family mediation with projects that aimed to facilitate access to families on a global scale. For mediation to become truly accessible to families, ISS has partnered with cross-border family mediation professionals and has created an international Advisory Board in order to complete the political process with a number of concrete measures.
The first project was the publication of a guide to international family mediation practice intended to families and professionals supporting or accompanying these families.
Click here to order a paperback version of the Guide.
Why a guide?
Few families know they have the opportunity to use mediation for issues of divorce, separation and parental rights in cross-border situations. The belief that conflicts involving two countries can only be settled through legal procedures still prevails.
The Guide's content:
The guide includes information, testimonies, studies and experiences reflecting the many benefits as well as the limits of cross-border family mediation; it highlights the articulation between mediation practice and the law and was drafted in conformity with all legislations and mediation practices. An entire section consists of practical advice to parents concerning preparation and access to mediation and reliable information on their legal situation, as well as contents of mediation agreements.
The second project was a multilingual web platform which allows a wider access to reliable and continuously updated information on international family mediation. It contains the ISS Guide adapted to the web format, a directory by country to help families involved in cross-border family conflicts and professionals of the psycho-social and legal fields to find public services and charitable organisations that can provide assistance (authorities for cross-border disputes, social and child welfare services, etc.)
Access the website on this link: www.ifm-mfi.org
The third project was to gather mediators specialised in cross-border disputes from all the continents to jointly elaborate and draft an international charter of professional conduct, as well as a set of best practices.
The Charter, published in 2017, is the fruit of an international working group of 55 professional mediators who serve as representatives and come from all seven continents. All established and recognised structures specialising in international family mediation across the world were part of this Collaborative Process. As an international document of reference, The Charter serves as a medium to strengthen dialogue and cooperation between mediators and administrative and legal bodies; for this reason, the initial work of the group took place in parallel to an international conference on child protection, focusing in particular on The Hague Convention of 1996 (read Conference Report).
As collectively decided in May 2017 in Geneva, this collaboration was being pursued with the aim to create a Global Network of International Family Mediators.
Approximately 60 examples of Good Practices related to IFM and cross-border family conflicts were elaborated at the 2015 Geneva Meeting (read the Summary of Best Practices). To present them in an accessible and easy-to-use format, ISS created a virtual, multilingual and collaborative workplace for mediation practitioners. The principal purposes of The Platform are to facilitate networking and to share information amongst mediators around the world. Registered participants can discuss the examples of Good Practices by country, upload or download documents, share information on events / trainings / conferences related to IFM, provide feedback on trainings, find other mediators' contacts and send private messages.
Access the Platform on this link: www.ifm-mfi.org/testmediation
The Charter for International Family Mediation Processes was agreed on and published by a group of qualified international family mediators from all the continents, the Collaborative Process. In May 2017, this international group decided that a global professional network of international family mediators should be created to ensure the protection of children involved in parental conflicts. It was determined that the objective of such a network is to facilitate searches for competent and qualified international family mediators working in all regions of the world, and to reinforce cooperation with administrative and legal authorities (read the Report of the Meeting).
The appointed by the ISS GS Interim Steering Committee (ISC) worked for 12 months and drafted a Proposal to the Collaborative Process, which includes the Terms of References (ToR) of the future Network and an Action Plan for next 2-3 years (read the ISC Proposal). The Final Report of the Programme presents a summary of this Proposal.
In addition, the ISS GS created an institutional Review Board composed of a number of political organisations and institutions dealing with cross-border family conflicts in all regions. This Board reviewed the ISC Proposal and provided its feedback regarding the future Network.
Who to Contact for Cross-border Family Conflicts?
What sources of reference are available for International Family Mediation?