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Looking at the Bigger Picture:

Lessons learned from Conflict Mapping


“The wind does not blow kindly on those who know not to which shore they are headed” -Karminn Tracy

Charting our voyages and knowing the direction of our undertakings are very important. If we leave everything to chance, chances are, we would soon run into problems. Hence before embarking on any actual mediation process, ensuring the preliminary step is crucial.

The issue of the Mediator focuses on the use of Conflict Mapping to analyze conflicts. The Mediation road map involves definite steps in the process of resolving conflicts. But preparation is half the work done. Community mediation in particular benefits tremendously from a well-defined conflict map. And a clear conflict map is the product of long hours of committed work in interviewing key informants, gathering secondary data, sifting through the information and summarizing issues and then presenting them in validation workshops during Focus Group Discussions.

Among the important things that a conflict map can do is the identification of different stakeholders in a conflict. Imagine having started a mediation session and then finding out that some important people involved in the conflict were not actually included in the mediation process. It’s a formula for prolonging, nay, repeating the whole process. That is why a final validation workshop that takes place through a multi-stakeholders consultation is essential. This would also clarify another important offshoot of the conflict mapping activity which is the establishment of the timeline. The timeline clarifies the succession of events which helps a lot when people care a lot about the precedence of an event over another. When the timeline is clearly established, discussions can focus on more factual data rather then relying on subjective accounts.

With a well-written conflict map, the dispute resolution process can be facilitated. But as with any map, the mediator has to know how to make use of them to full advantage. As a young student in Belgium many years ago, I remember an incident that took place while I was in the company of five other Filipino students and we were touring Brussels on our own. We wanted to attend English mass at the St. Nicholas church which was near the famous Grand Plaza of Brussels. Armed with a big map, we tried to find our way, walking through the web-like streets in the area. After thirty minutes of searching, and as we confirmed that we were lost since we reached a plateau near the Royal Palace, we opposite of where we were supposed to go! Lesson learned: one has to know how to use a map.

Looking at the bigger picture: lessons learned from conflict mapping.

The theme of this issue encapsulates what we hope to impart to the many aspiring mediators in the country, and that is how we can learn lessons from going through a conflict mapping process. We hope share theses lessons gained from the experiences in Mercedes, Camarines Norte which is a coastal municipality, through the outsider’s viewpoint of our guest collaborator, Trevor Clark who participated in the initial conflict mapping exercise of a land conflict in Mindoro involving IP’s and farmers; the environmental cases in Bukidnon, and of the watershed conflict in Maasin, Iloilo.

We hope that this sharing of experiences in the field if mediation would continue and that many new experiences can be featured in the future as well all try to make our little part of the world a little more peaceful with every little effort we are willing to contribute.


by: Benedict U. Rimando

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