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ESG Litigation: Opportunities and Challenges

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By Hon. Prof. Kariuki Muigua, OGW, PhD, C.Arb, FCIArb is a Professor of Environmental Law and Dispute Resolution at the University of Nairobi, Member of Permanent Court of Arbitration, Leading Environmental Law Scholar, Respected Sustainable Development Policy Advisor, Top Natural Resources Lawyer, Highly-Regarded Dispute Resolution Expert and Awardee of the Order of Grand Warrior (OGW) of Kenya by H.E. the President of Republic of Kenya. He is the Academic Champion of ADR 2024, the African ADR Practitioner of the Year 2022, the African Arbitrator of the Year 2022, ADR Practitioner of the Year in Kenya 2021, CIArb (Kenya) Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 and ADR Publisher of the Year 2021 and Author of the Kenya’s First ESG Book: Embracing Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) tenets for Sustainable Development” (Glenwood, Nairobi, July 2023) and Kenya’s First Two Climate Change Law Book: Combating Climate Change for Sustainability (Glenwood, Nairobi, October 2023), Achieving Climate Justice for Development (Glenwood, Nairobi, October 2023) and Promoting Rule of Law for Sustainable Development (Glenwood, Nairobi, January 2024)*

Historically, companies have viewed sustainability performance and statements as a voluntary undertaking, largely devoid of legal or market risk. As a result, management and oversight of a company’s ESG and other sustainability issues including Corporate Social Responsibility CSR programs and reports often operated free from legal department oversight or interference. However, recent years have witnessed a proliferation of voluntary frameworks that have given rise to growing pressure on companies to adopt and report on rapidly evolving and expanding ESG standards.

The growth of mandatory disclosure requirements on sustainability issues including ESG factors has led to the rise of ESG related litigation where plaintiffs have pursued with growing success legal challenges to company claims and disclosures related to ESG performance. It has been pointed out that ESG-related legal and regulatory developments are maturing from soft law recommendations to hard law obligations in multiple jurisdictions.

As a result, there is increasing liability and risks associated with ESG factors that often results in disputes. It has been observed that ESG disputes continue to be on the rise globally often as a tool to push organisations to engage with the net zero transition with greater ambition, and to improve their ESG performance (including in relation to human rights) but also to challenge how ESG issues are being addressed.

ESG related legal actions can either involve claims challenging the veracity of ESG statements based largely on a company’s ESG conduct or suits directly contesting the propriety of company activities and performance. The first category majorly deals with ESG disclosure and reporting standards and such suits are majorly concerned with ESG misstatements and omissions. The second category is concerned about a company’s performance on various ESG tenets and such suits can involve a company’s alleged impacts or misconduct related to climate and human rights.

Claims challenging the veracity of ESG statements based largely on a company’s ESG conduct mostly take the form of misrepresentation and “greenwashing” litigation. Greenwashing has been described as a phenomenon wherein corporations may strategically disclose environmental performance data in a manner that deceives both the general public and potential investors. It is often used as a strategy used by companies to create the impression that they are compliant with ESG requirements while hiding the true level of compliance, through marketing. Through greenwashing, firms exhibit an appearance of transparency and disseminate substantial volumes of ESG data but demonstrate inadequate results in many dimensions of their ESG endeavours.

Greenwashing often results in ESG misrepresentation and is a major threat to sustainability. Greenwashing practices may result in a situation of information asymmetry, thereby causing detrimental effects on the financial interests of investors. Through greenwashing, it is plausible for corporations to conceal instances of pollution and even breaches of environmental legislation by engaging in symbolic compliance. It has been observed that corporations are increasingly facing private lawsuits related to greenwashing on various grounds, including misrepresentation in their marketing materials or corporate disclosure.

ESG litigation related to misrepresentation and greenwashing is majorly grounded in consumer protection and unfair competition claims. Under this framework, companies can be sued on grounds that their products and services contain false or misleading affirmative statements or omit material information on ESG factors. In addition, there have been an increase of ESG suits challenging ESG Statements in company reports, websites, and other marketing materials.

ESG litigation is also being widely embraced through suits directly contesting the propriety of company activities and performance. It has been pointed out that such claims can take the form of private law claims seeking monetary compensation (damages); private/public law claims seeking to change companies’ behaviour and/or bring about alternative outcomes such as compliance with ESG tenets; and public law claims directed at administrative decision-making, for instance judicial review cases on ESG. Under this category, there has been growth of ESG suits on issues such as climate change.

It has been observed that as governments increasingly implement net-zero carbon targets and companies establish their own carbon-neutral or carbon-negative pledges, climate change related disputes are growing throughout the world. Such disputes focus on issues such as infrastructure projects and whether these projects are aligned with the Paris Agreement, contribution by companies towards the effects of climate change, and commercial disputes arising out of climate change events such as insurance claims and claims related to potential force majeure events.

The practice of taking legal action over climate change has been on the rise in national courts all around the world, with the majority of cases being claimed as breaches of human rights. Such cases are concerned with themes such as climate rights, domestic enforcement, keeping fossil fuels in the ground, corporate accountability and responsibility, failure to adapt and the implications of adaptation, climate disclosures and greenwashing.

Climate litigation is thus a vital tool towards sustainability. In addition, human rights have emerged as key theme under ESG litigation. It has been correctly asserted that companies can face liability for human rights violations committed abroad by entities in their supply chain. In addition, it has been observed that the focus on supply chains has brought much greater scrutiny to the working conditions of those in the supply chain.

Concerns of human rights of employees and the communities that are impacted by the activities of the supply chains have become paramount. In addition, there is an increased recognition of the link between climate change and human rights and as a result, claims have been made against companies for poor health and safety conditions in their supply chain, particularly in cases of significant industrial accidents. Human rights are therefore central in ESG.

The ‘S’ tenet in ESG covers social factors including human rights, labour relations, employee welfare, community engagement, diversity and inclusion. Companies are now increasingly required to embrace Human Rights Due Diligence (HRDD) in order to demonstrate compliance with human rights standards63. In addition, there has been rise of private enforcement of human rights against companies through ESG litigation.

ESG litigation is therefore an essential tool aimed at fostering sustainability. Despite its efficacy, several hurdles may be experienced in ESG litigation. For example, in the field of climate litigation, some of the key challenges that may be experienced include determining whether or not the court has the jurisdiction to settle a dispute; locating the origin of an enforceable climate-related right or obligation; formulating a remedy that will lessen the plaintiffs’ injuries; and marshalling the science of climate attribution. In addition, it has been pointed out that challenges may arise in the quantification of damages in ESG litigation. It is imperative to navigate these among other challenges in order to effectively cover the landscape of ESG litigation.

*This is an extract from the Article: Fostering Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Litigation for Sustainability, Available at: https://kmco.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Fostering-Environmental-Social-and-Governance-ESG-Litigation-for-Sustainability.pdf (Accessed 2nd March 2024) by Hon. Prof.  Kariuki Muigua, OGW, PhD, Professor of Environmental Law and Dispute Resolution, Senior Advocate of Kenya, Chartered Arbitrator, Kenya’s ADR Practitioner of the Year 2021 (Nairobi Legal Awards), ADR Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 (CIArb Kenya), African Arbitrator of the Year 2022, Africa ADR Practitioner of the Year 2022, Member of National Environment Tribunal (NET) Emeritus (2017 to 2023) and Member of Permanent Court of Arbitration nominated by Republic of Kenya and Academic Champion of ADR 2024. Prof. Kariuki Muigua is a foremost Environmental Law and Natural Resources Lawyer and Scholar, Sustainable Development Advocate and Conflict Management Expert in Kenya. Prof. Kariuki Muigua teaches Environmental Law and Dispute resolution at the University of Nairobi School of Law, The Center for Advanced Studies in Environmental Law and Policy (CASELAP) and Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies. He has published numerous books and articles on Environmental Law, Environmental Justice Conflict Management, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Sustainable Development. Prof. Muigua is also a Chartered Arbitrator, an Accredited Mediator, the Managing Partner of Kariuki Muigua & Co. Advocates and Africa Trustee Emeritus of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators 2019-2022. Prof. Muigua is a 2023 recipient of President of the Republic of Kenya Order of Grand Warrior (OGW) Award for his service to the Nation as a Distinguished Expert, Academic and Scholar in Dispute Resolution and recognized among the top 5 leading lawyers and dispute resolution experts in Band 1 in Kenya by the Chambers Global Guide 2024 and was listed in the Inaugural THE LAWYER AFRICA Litigation Hall of Fame 2023 as one of the Top 50 Most Distinguished Litigation Lawyers in Kenya and the Top Arbitrator in Kenya in 2023.

References

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News & Analysis

Way Forward in Applying Collaborative Approaches Towards Conflict Management

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By Hon. Prof. Kariuki Muigua, OGW, PhD, C.Arb, FCIArb is a Professor of Environmental Law and Dispute Resolution at the University of Nairobi, Member of Permanent Court of Arbitration, Leading Environmental Law Scholar, Respected Sustainable Development Policy Advisor, Top Natural Resources Lawyer, Highly-Regarded Dispute Resolution Expert and Awardee of the Order of Grand Warrior (OGW) of Kenya by H.E. the President of Republic of Kenya. He is the Academic Champion of ADR 2024, the African ADR Practitioner of the Year 2022, the African Arbitrator of the Year 2022, ADR Practitioner of the Year in Kenya 2021, CIArb (Kenya) Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 and ADR Publisher of the Year 2021 and Author of the Kenya’s First ESG Book: Embracing Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) tenets for Sustainable Development” (Glenwood, Nairobi, July 2023) and Kenya’s First Two Climate Change Law Book: Combating Climate Change for Sustainability (Glenwood, Nairobi, October 2023), Achieving Climate Justice for Development (Glenwood, Nairobi, October 2023), Promoting Rule of Law for Sustainable Development (Glenwood, Nairobi, January 2024) and Actualizing the Right to a Clean and Healthy Environment (Glenwood, Nairobi, March 2024)*

It is necessary to embrace and utilize collaborative approaches in managing conflicts. These techniques include mediation, negotiation, and facilitation. These mechanisms are effective in managing conflicts since they encourage parties to embrace and address disagreements through empathy and listening towards mutually beneficial solutions. Collaborative approaches also have the potential to preserve relationships, build trust, and promote long term positive change. They also ensure a win-win solution is found so that everyone is satisfied which creates the condition for peace and sustainability. These approaches are therefore ideal in managing conflicts. It is therefore important to embrace collaborative approaches in order to ensure effective management of conflicts.

In addition, it is necessary for third parties including mediators and facilitators to develop their skills and techniques in order to enhance the effectiveness of collaborative approaches towards conflict management. For example, it has correctly been observed that mediators and facilitators should listen actively and empathetically in order to assist parties to collaborate towards managing their dispute. Therefore, when a dispute arises, the first step should involve listening to all parties involved with an open mind and without judgment. This should entail active listening, which means paying attention to both verbal and nonverbal cues and acknowledging the emotions and perceptions involved.

It has been observed that by listening empathetically, a third party such as a mediator of facilitator can understand each person’s perspective and start to build a foundation for resolving the conflict through collaboration. In addition, while collaborating towards conflict management, it is necessary to encourage and help parties to focus on interests and not positions. It has been pointed out that focusing positions can result in a standstill which can delay or even defeat the conflict management process. However, by identifying and addressing the underlying interests parties can find common ground and collaborate towards coming up with creative solutions towards their conflict.

Mediators and facilitators should also assist parties to look for areas of agreement or shared goals. Identifying a common ground can build momentum and create a positive environment for resolving the conflict. Further, in order to ensure the effectiveness of collaborative approaches in conflict management, it is necessary to build strong collaboration. It has been asserted that strong collaboration can be achieved by establishing a shared purpose, cultivating trust among parties, encouraging active participation by all parties, and promoting effective communication.

Strong collaboration enables parties to develop trust between and among themselves and strengthen communication channels between the various parties. It also helps to generate inclusive solutions that arise from wider stakeholders’ views. Therefore while applying collaborative approaches, it is necessary for parties to foster strong collaboration by identifying common goals, building trust, ensuring that all stakeholders are involved, and communicating effectively in order to come up with win-win outcomes.

Finally, while embracing collaborative approaches in conflict management, it is necessary for parties to consider seeking help from third parties if need arises. For example, negotiation is always the first point of call whenever a conflict arises whereby parties attempt to manage their conflict without the involvement of third parties. It has been described as the most effective collaborative approach towards conflict management since it starts with an understanding by both parties that they must search for solutions that satisfy everyone.

It enables parties to a dispute to come together to openly discuss the issue causing tension, actively listen to each other, and come up with mutually satisfactory solutions. However, it has been correctly observed that negotiation may fail especially if the conflict is particularly complex or involves multiple parties due to challenges in collaborating. In such circumstances, where negotiation fails, parties should consider resorting to other collaborative approaches such as mediation and facilitation where they attempt to manage the conflict with the help of a third party. A mediator or facilitator can assist parties to collaborate and continue with the negotiations and ultimately break the deadlock.

*This is an extract from Kenya’s First Clean and Healthy Environment Book: Actualizing the Right to a Clean and Healthy Environment (Glenwood, Nairobi, January 2024) by Hon. Prof.  Kariuki Muigua, OGW, PhD, Professor of Environmental Law and Dispute Resolution, Senior Advocate of Kenya, Chartered Arbitrator, Kenya’s ADR Practitioner of the Year 2021 (Nairobi Legal Awards), ADR Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 (CIArb Kenya), African Arbitrator of the Year 2022, Africa ADR Practitioner of the Year 2022, Member of National Environment Tribunal (NET) Emeritus (2017 to 2023) and Member of Permanent Court of Arbitration nominated by Republic of Kenya and Academic Champion of ADR 2024. Prof. Kariuki Muigua is a foremost Environmental Law and Natural Resources Lawyer and Scholar, Sustainable Development Advocate and Conflict Management Expert in Kenya. Prof. Kariuki Muigua teaches Environmental Law and Dispute resolution at the University of Nairobi School of Law, The Center for Advanced Studies in Environmental Law and Policy (CASELAP) and Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies. He has published numerous books and articles on Environmental Law, Environmental Justice Conflict Management, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Sustainable Development. Prof. Muigua is also a Chartered Arbitrator, an Accredited Mediator, the Managing Partner of Kariuki Muigua & Co. Advocates and Africa Trustee Emeritus of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators 2019-2022. Prof. Muigua is a 2023 recipient of President of the Republic of Kenya Order of Grand Warrior (OGW) Award for his service to the Nation as a Distinguished Expert, Academic and Scholar in Dispute Resolution and recognized among the top 5 leading lawyers and dispute resolution experts in Band 1 in Kenya by the Chambers Global Guide 2024 and was listed in the Inaugural THE LAWYER AFRICA Litigation Hall of Fame 2023 as one of the Top 50 Most Distinguished Litigation Lawyers in Kenya and the Top Arbitrator in Kenya in 2023.

References

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Bercovitch. J., ‘Mediation Success or Failure: A Search for the Elusive Criteria.’ Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 7, p 289.

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News & Analysis

Opportunities and Challenges of Collaborative Conflict Management

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By Hon. Prof. Kariuki Muigua, OGW, PhD, C.Arb, FCIArb is a Professor of Environmental Law and Dispute Resolution at the University of Nairobi, Member of Permanent Court of Arbitration, Leading Environmental Law Scholar, Respected Sustainable Development Policy Advisor, Top Natural Resources Lawyer, Highly-Regarded Dispute Resolution Expert and Awardee of the Order of Grand Warrior (OGW) of Kenya by H.E. the President of Republic of Kenya. He is the Academic Champion of ADR 2024, the African ADR Practitioner of the Year 2022, the African Arbitrator of the Year 2022, ADR Practitioner of the Year in Kenya 2021, CIArb (Kenya) Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 and ADR Publisher of the Year 2021 and Author of the Kenya’s First ESG Book: Embracing Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) tenets for Sustainable Development” (Glenwood, Nairobi, July 2023) and Kenya’s First Two Climate Change Law Book: Combating Climate Change for Sustainability (Glenwood, Nairobi, October 2023), Achieving Climate Justice for Development (Glenwood, Nairobi, October 2023), Promoting Rule of Law for Sustainable Development (Glenwood, Nairobi, January 2024) and Actualizing the Right to a Clean and Healthy Environment (Glenwood, Nairobi, March 2024)*

One of the key collaborative approaches that can be applied in conflict management is mediation. Mediation has been defined as a method of conflict management where conflicting parties gather to seek solutions to the conflict, with the assistance of a third party who facilitates discussions and the flow of information, and thus aiding in the process of reaching an agreement.

Mediation is usually a continuation of the negotiation process since it arises where parties to a conflict have attempted negotiations, but have reached a deadlock. Parties therefore involve a third party known as a mediator to assist them continue with the negotiations and ultimately break the deadlock. A mediator does not have the power to impose a solution upon the parties but rather facilitates communication, promotes understanding, focuses the parties on their interests, and uses creative problem solving to enable the parties to reach their own agreement.

Some of the core values and principles guiding mediation as a collaborative approach towards conflict management include impartiality, empathy, valued reputation, and confidentiality. It has also been pointed out that mediation has certain attributes which include informality, flexibility, efficiency, confidentiality, party autonomy and the ability to promote expeditious and cost effective management of dispute which makes it an ideal mechanism for managing disputes.

Mediation is an effective mechanism that can foster collaboration due to its potential to build peace and bring people together, binding them towards a common goal. Mediation can also foster effective management of conflicts by building consensus and collaboration. It has been argued that mediation can enhance collaboration towards conflict management due to its emphasis on the need for a mediator who listen to the wants, needs, fears, and concerns of all sides. Therefore, for mediation to be effective in fostering collaboration, the approach must be mild and non-confrontational because the goal is to make all parties feel comfortable expressing their views and opinions.

Another key collaborative approach towards conflict management is negotiation. It has been defined as an informal process that involves parties to a conflict meeting to identify and discuss the issues at hand so as to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution without the help of a third party. Negotiation is one of the most fundamental methods of managing conflicts which offers parties maximum control over the process66. It aims at harmonizing the interests of the parties concerned amicably. Negotiation has been described as the process that creates and fuels collaboration.

Negotiation fosters collaboration since it involves all parties sitting down together, talking through the conflict and working towards a solution together. Negotiation has been described as the most effective collaborative approach towards conflict management since it starts with an understanding by both parties that they must search for solutions that satisfy everyone. It enables parties to a dispute to come together to openly discuss the issue causing tension, actively listen to each other, and come up with mutually satisfactory solutions. If negotiation fails, parties may resort to other collaborative approaches such as mediation and facilitation where they attempt to manage the conflict with the help of a third party.

Facilitation is another key collaborative approach towards conflict management. Facilitation entails a third party known as a facilitator who helps parties to a conflict to understand their common objectives and achieve them without while remaining objective in the discussion. A facilitator assists conflicting parties in achieving consensus on any disagreements so that they have a strong basis for future action.

It has been pointed out that facilitation is effective in fostering collaboration in conflict management particularly in conflicts which are complex in nature or those that involve multiple parties. In such conflicts, it is necessary to seek outside help from a neutral third party to facilitate the discussion as parties work towards mutually acceptable outcomes.

Applying collaborative approaches towards conflict management offers several advantages. It has been pointed out that collaborating results in mutually acceptable solutions. Such solutions can therefore be effective and long lasting negating the likelihood of conflicts reemerging in future. Collaborating signifies joint efforts, gain for both parties and integrated solutions arrived at by consensual decisions.

Collaborating is also very effective when it is necessary to build or maintain relationships since it focuses on the needs and interests of all parties in a dispute. It has been observed that collaborative approaches emphasize trust-building, open communication, and empathizing with each other’s perspectives which goes beyond resolving conflicts to facilitate deeper understandings of each other. Collaborative approaches can therefore lead to better interpersonal connections.

Collaborating can also result in constructive decision-making since encouraging active engagement and open dialogue helps others think outside of the box and explore innovative paths towards conflict management. Further, by encouraging the participation and involvement of all stakeholders, collaboration ensures that everyone feels heard, valued and understood which is very essential in managing conflicts.

In addition, collaborating sets the tone for future conflict resolutions since it gives those involved the shared responsibility to resolve their problems. However, collaborative approaches towards conflict management have also been associated with several drawbacks. For example, it has been observed that collaborative approaches may not be easy to implement since they involve a lot of effort to get an actionable solution. It has been observed that thorough discussions, active participation, and exploring multiple perspectives as envisaged by collaborative approaches take time.

Collaborating may therefore require patience and dedication to ensure all voices are heard and meaningful resolutions are reached. Achieving consensus through collaborative approaches can also be difficult since conflicting opinions, varying conflict goals, and emotional variables can make the consensus-building process challenging and time-consuming. As a result of these challenges, it has been asserted that collaborative approaches towards conflict management are frequently the most difficult and time-consuming to achieve.

Further, it has been argued that over use of collaboration and consensual decision-making may reflect risk aversion tendencies or an inclination to defuse responsibility. Despite these challenges, collaborative approaches towards conflict management are ideal in ensuring win-win and long lasting outcomes. It is therefore necessary to embrace and apply collaborative approaches towards conflict management.

*This is an extract from Kenya’s First Clean and Healthy Environment Book: Actualizing the Right to a Clean and Healthy Environment (Glenwood, Nairobi, January 2024) by Hon. Prof.  Kariuki Muigua, OGW, PhD, Professor of Environmental Law and Dispute Resolution, Senior Advocate of Kenya, Chartered Arbitrator, Kenya’s ADR Practitioner of the Year 2021 (Nairobi Legal Awards), ADR Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 (CIArb Kenya), African Arbitrator of the Year 2022, Africa ADR Practitioner of the Year 2022, Member of National Environment Tribunal (NET) Emeritus (2017 to 2023) and Member of Permanent Court of Arbitration nominated by Republic of Kenya and Academic Champion of ADR 2024. Prof. Kariuki Muigua is a foremost Environmental Law and Natural Resources Lawyer and Scholar, Sustainable Development Advocate and Conflict Management Expert in Kenya. Prof. Kariuki Muigua teaches Environmental Law and Dispute resolution at the University of Nairobi School of Law, The Center for Advanced Studies in Environmental Law and Policy (CASELAP) and Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies. He has published numerous books and articles on Environmental Law, Environmental Justice Conflict Management, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Sustainable Development. Prof. Muigua is also a Chartered Arbitrator, an Accredited Mediator, the Managing Partner of Kariuki Muigua & Co. Advocates and Africa Trustee Emeritus of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators 2019-2022. Prof. Muigua is a 2023 recipient of President of the Republic of Kenya Order of Grand Warrior (OGW) Award for his service to the Nation as a Distinguished Expert, Academic and Scholar in Dispute Resolution and recognized among the top 5 leading lawyers and dispute resolution experts in Band 1 in Kenya by the Chambers Global Guide 2024 and was listed in the Inaugural THE LAWYER AFRICA Litigation Hall of Fame 2023 as one of the Top 50 Most Distinguished Litigation Lawyers in Kenya and the Top Arbitrator in Kenya in 2023.

References

Bercovitch. J., ‘Conflict and Conflict Management in Organizations: A Framework for Analysis.’ Available at https://ocd.lcwu.edu.pk/cfiles/International%20Relations/EC/IR403/Conflict.ConflictManagementinOrga nizations.pdf (Accessed on 01/03/2024).

Bercovitch. J., ‘Mediation Success or Failure: A Search for the Elusive Criteria.’ Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 7, p 289.

Bloomfield. D., ‘Towards Complementarity in Conflict Management: Resolution and Settlement in Northern Ireland,’ Journal of Peace Research., Volume 32, Issue 2.

Burrell. B., ‘The Five Conflict Styles’ Available at https://web.mit.edu/collaboration/mainsite/ modules/module1/1.11.5.html (Accessed on 01/03/2024).

Demmers. J., ‘Theories of Violent Conflict: An Introduction’ (Routledge, New York, 2012).

Diana. M., ‘From Conflict to Collaboration’ Available at https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/conflict-collaboration-beyond-projectsuccess-1899 (Accessed on 01/03/2024).

Food and Agriculture Organization., ‘Collaborative Conflict Management for Enhanced National Forest Programmes (NFPs)’ Available at https://www.fao.org/3/i2604e/i2604e00.pdf (Accessed on 01/03/2024).

International Organization for Peace Building., ‘Natural Resources and Conflict: A Path to Mediation.’ Available at https://www.interpeace.org/2015/11/naturalresources-and-conflict-a-path-to-mediation/ (Accessed on 01/03/2024).

Isenhart. M.W., & Spangle. M., ‘Summary of “Collaborative Approaches to Resolving Conflict” ‘ Available at https://www.beyondintractability.org/bksum/isenhart-collaborative (Accessed on 01/03/2024).

Kaushal. R., & Kwantes. C., ‘The Role of Culture and Personality in Choice of Conflict Management Strategy.’ International Journal of Intercultural Relations 30 (2006) 579– 603.

Leeds. C.A., ‘Managing Conflicts across Cultures: Challenges to Practitioners.’ International Journal of Peace Studies, Volume 2, No. 2, 1997.

May. E., ‘Collaborating Conflict Style Explained In 4 Minutes’ Available at https://www.niagara institute.com/blog/collaborating-conflict-style/ (Accessed on 01/03/2024).

Miroslavov. M., ‘Mastering the Collaborating Conflict Style In 2024’ Available at https://www.officernd.com/blog/collaborating-conflictstyle/#:~:text=It’s%20one%20of%20the%20strat egies,their%20underlying%20needs %20and%20interests. (Accessed on 01/03/2024).

Muigua. K & Kariuki. F., ‘ADR, Access to Justice and Development in Kenya.’ Available at http://kmco.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/ADR-access-tojustice-and-development-inKenyaRevised-version-of-20.10.14.pdf (Accessed on 01/03/2024).

Muigua. K., ‘Alternative Dispute Resolution and Access to Justice in Kenya.’ Glenwood Publishers Limited, 2015.

Muigua. K., ‘Reframing Conflict Management in the East African Community: Moving from Alternative to ‘Appropriate’ Dispute Resolution.’ Available at https://kmco.co.ke/wpcontent/uploads/2023/06/ Reframing-ConflictManagement-in-the-East-African-CommunityMoving-from-Alternative-toAppropriate-Dispute-Resolution (Accessed on 01/03/2024).

Muigua. K., ‘Resolving Conflicts through Mediation in Kenya.’ Glenwood Publishers Limited, 2nd Edition., 2017.

Quain. S., ‘The Advantages & Disadvantages of Collaborating Conflict Management’ Available at https://smallbusiness.chron.com/advantagesdisadvantages-collaborating-conflict-management-36052.html (Accessed on 01/03/2024).

Samuel. A., ‘Is the Collaborative Style of Conflict Management the Best Approach?’ Available at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/collaborative-style-conflictmanagement-best-approach-samuel-ansah (Accessed on 01/03/2024).

United Nations., ‘Land and Conflict’ Available at https://www.un.org/en/landnatural-resources-conflict/pdfs/GN_ExeS_Land%20and%20Conflict.pdf (Accessed on 01/03/2024).

Weiss. J., & Hughes. J., ‘Want Collaboration?: Accept—and Actively Manage— Conflict’ Available at https://hbr.org/2005/03/want-collaboration-accept-andactively-manage-conflict (Accessed on 01/03/2024).

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Collaborative Approaches towards Conflict Management

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By Hon. Prof. Kariuki Muigua, OGW, PhD, C.Arb, FCIArb is a Professor of Environmental Law and Dispute Resolution at the University of Nairobi, Member of Permanent Court of Arbitration, Leading Environmental Law Scholar, Respected Sustainable Development Policy Advisor, Top Natural Resources Lawyer, Highly-Regarded Dispute Resolution Expert and Awardee of the Order of Grand Warrior (OGW) of Kenya by H.E. the President of Republic of Kenya. He is the Academic Champion of ADR 2024, the African ADR Practitioner of the Year 2022, the African Arbitrator of the Year 2022, ADR Practitioner of the Year in Kenya 2021, CIArb (Kenya) Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 and ADR Publisher of the Year 2021 and Author of the Kenya’s First ESG Book: Embracing Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) tenets for Sustainable Development” (Glenwood, Nairobi, July 2023) and Kenya’s First Two Climate Change Law Book: Combating Climate Change for Sustainability (Glenwood, Nairobi, October 2023), Achieving Climate Justice for Development (Glenwood, Nairobi, October 2023), Promoting Rule of Law for Sustainable Development (Glenwood, Nairobi, January 2024) and Actualizing the Right to a Clean and Healthy Environment (Glenwood, Nairobi, March 2024)*

Conflict management can involve different approaches. These techniques include collaborating, competing, avoiding, accommodating, and compromising. Collaborative approaches towards conflict management have been hailed as the most ideal due to their potential to produce satisfactory and long-term results. Collaborative approaches have been hailed as ensuring efficient and effective management of conflicts towards peace and sustainability.

Collaborative conflict management refers to the use of a wide range of informal approaches where competing or opposing stakeholder groups work together to reach an agreement on a controversial issue. In addition, it has been pointed out that collaborative conflict resolution encourages teams to work through disagreements through empathy, listening, and mutually beneficial solutions. Collaboration, unlike compromise, does not focus on both sides making sacrifices. Instead, in collaborative approaches, both parties come up with mutually beneficial solutions. Collaborating has been identified as a powerful approach to conflict resolution built on cooperation, open communication, and finding win-win outcomes.

It has been argued that among all conflict management techniques, collaborative approaches are the most likely to identify the root cause of a conflict, pinpoint the underlying needs of the parties involved, and come to a win-win outcome for everyone. Through collaboration, all parties to a conflict come together to openly discuss the issue causing tension, actively listen to each other, and work towards a solution that is mutually satisfactory and acceptable to everyone.

It has been pointed out that collaborative conflict management aims to achieve several objectives which include: promoting the participation of diverse or competing stakeholder groups in order to reach agreement on a controversial issue; assisting stakeholders in adopting an attitude that is oriented towards cooperation rather than pursuit of individual interests; establishing new forms of communication and decision making on important issues, and raising awareness of the importance of equity and accountability in stakeholder communication; developing partnerships and strengthening stakeholder networks; creating space for stakeholders to communicate in order to bring about future agreements so that concrete action can be taken; and producing decisions that have a strong base of support.

In addition, it has been observed that collaborative approaches towards conflict management aim to preserve relationships, build trust, and promote long term positive change. Collaborative conflict management is based on certain principles key among them being ensuring open communication, finding common ground, and creating a culture of trust. Collaborative approaches towards conflict management has been hailed as the “win-win” strategy to conflict management. It is an effective means of restoring peace.

Further, it has been argued that collaborative approaches are a better way to conflict management since they encourage freedom of expression, where the conflicting parties express their thoughts and concerns verbally, which makes all parties involved in the dispute feel valued and be aware of each other’s concern. In addition, it has been argued that collaborating sets the tone for future conflict resolution and gives those involved the shared responsibility to manage conflicts prior to escalation.

Managing conflicts in a collaborative way helps to develop trust and strengthen communication channels between the various parties. For example, it has been pointed out that in conflicts related to natural resources, collaborative approaches help in generating inclusive solutions that arise from wider stakeholders’ views, and therefore helps clarify policies, institutions and processes that regulate access to – or control over – natural resources. It has been observed that collaborating entails all parties to a conflict sitting down together, discussing the conflict, and working towards a solution together.

Collaborative approaches towards conflict management have been identified as vital when it is necessary to maintain all parties’ relationships or when the solution itself will have a significant impact on large group of people. In such situations, collaborating ensures a win-win solution is found so that everyone is satisfied which creates the condition for peace and sustainability.

It has been pointed out that for collaborative approaches to be effective, it is necessary for all parties to have collaborating skills such as the ability to use active or effective listening, confront situations in a nonthreatening way, analyze input, and identify underlying concerns. Collaborative approaches towards conflict management are important in fostering effective and long-lasting outcomes. It is therefore necessary to apply collaborative approaches in order to ensure effective and efficient management of conflicts.

*This is an extract from Kenya’s First Clean and Healthy Environment Book: Actualizing the Right to a Clean and Healthy Environment (Glenwood, Nairobi, January 2024) by Hon. Prof.  Kariuki Muigua, OGW, PhD, Professor of Environmental Law and Dispute Resolution, Senior Advocate of Kenya, Chartered Arbitrator, Kenya’s ADR Practitioner of the Year 2021 (Nairobi Legal Awards), ADR Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 (CIArb Kenya), African Arbitrator of the Year 2022, Africa ADR Practitioner of the Year 2022, Member of National Environment Tribunal (NET) Emeritus (2017 to 2023) and Member of Permanent Court of Arbitration nominated by Republic of Kenya and Academic Champion of ADR 2024. Prof. Kariuki Muigua is a foremost Environmental Law and Natural Resources Lawyer and Scholar, Sustainable Development Advocate and Conflict Management Expert in Kenya. Prof. Kariuki Muigua teaches Environmental Law and Dispute resolution at the University of Nairobi School of Law, The Center for Advanced Studies in Environmental Law and Policy (CASELAP) and Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies. He has published numerous books and articles on Environmental Law, Environmental Justice Conflict Management, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Sustainable Development. Prof. Muigua is also a Chartered Arbitrator, an Accredited Mediator, the Managing Partner of Kariuki Muigua & Co. Advocates and Africa Trustee Emeritus of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators 2019-2022. Prof. Muigua is a 2023 recipient of President of the Republic of Kenya Order of Grand Warrior (OGW) Award for his service to the Nation as a Distinguished Expert, Academic and Scholar in Dispute Resolution and recognized among the top 5 leading lawyers and dispute resolution experts in Band 1 in Kenya by the Chambers Global Guide 2024 and was listed in the Inaugural THE LAWYER AFRICA Litigation Hall of Fame 2023 as one of the Top 50 Most Distinguished Litigation Lawyers in Kenya and the Top Arbitrator in Kenya in 2023.

References

Bercovitch. J., ‘Conflict and Conflict Management in Organizations: A Framework for Analysis.’ Available at https://ocd.lcwu.edu.pk/cfiles/International%20Relations/EC/IR403/Conflict.ConflictManagementinOrga nizations.pdf (Accessed on 01/03/2024).

Bercovitch. J., ‘Mediation Success or Failure: A Search for the Elusive Criteria.’ Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 7, p 289.

Bloomfield. D., ‘Towards Complementarity in Conflict Management: Resolution and Settlement in Northern Ireland,’ Journal of Peace Research., Volume 32, Issue 2.

Burrell. B., ‘The Five Conflict Styles’ Available at https://web.mit.edu/collaboration/mainsite/ modules/module1/1.11.5.html (Accessed on 01/03/2024).

Demmers. J., ‘Theories of Violent Conflict: An Introduction’ (Routledge, New York, 2012).

Diana. M., ‘From Conflict to Collaboration’ Available at https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/conflict-collaboration-beyond-projectsuccess-1899 (Accessed on 01/03/2024).

Food and Agriculture Organization., ‘Collaborative Conflict Management for Enhanced National Forest Programmes (NFPs)’ Available at https://www.fao.org/3/i2604e/i2604e00.pdf (Accessed on 01/03/2024).

International Organization for Peace Building., ‘Natural Resources and Conflict: A Path to Mediation.’ Available at https://www.interpeace.org/2015/11/naturalresources-and-conflict-a-path-to-mediation/ (Accessed on 01/03/2024).

Isenhart. M.W., & Spangle. M., ‘Summary of “Collaborative Approaches to Resolving Conflict” ‘ Available at https://www.beyondintractability.org/bksum/isenhart-collaborative (Accessed on 01/03/2024).

Kaushal. R., & Kwantes. C., ‘The Role of Culture and Personality in Choice of Conflict Management Strategy.’ International Journal of Intercultural Relations 30 (2006) 579– 603.

Leeds. C.A., ‘Managing Conflicts across Cultures: Challenges to Practitioners.’ International Journal of Peace Studies, Volume 2, No. 2, 1997.

May. E., ‘Collaborating Conflict Style Explained In 4 Minutes’ Available at https://www.niagara institute.com/blog/collaborating-conflict-style/ (Accessed on 01/03/2024).

Miroslavov. M., ‘Mastering the Collaborating Conflict Style In 2024’ Available at https://www.officernd.com/blog/collaborating-conflictstyle/#:~:text=It’s%20one%20of%20the%20strat egies,their%20underlying%20needs %20and%20interests. (Accessed on 01/03/2024).

Muigua. K & Kariuki. F., ‘ADR, Access to Justice and Development in Kenya.’ Available at http://kmco.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/ADR-access-tojustice-and-development-inKenyaRevised-version-of-20.10.14.pdf (Accessed on 01/03/2024).

Muigua. K., ‘Alternative Dispute Resolution and Access to Justice in Kenya.’ Glenwood Publishers Limited, 2015.

Muigua. K., ‘Reframing Conflict Management in the East African Community: Moving from Alternative to ‘Appropriate’ Dispute Resolution.’ Available at https://kmco.co.ke/wpcontent/uploads/2023/06/ Reframing-ConflictManagement-in-the-East-African-CommunityMoving-from-Alternative-toAppropriate-Dispute-Resolution (Accessed on 01/03/2024).

Muigua. K., ‘Resolving Conflicts through Mediation in Kenya.’ Glenwood Publishers Limited, 2nd Edition., 2017.

Quain. S., ‘The Advantages & Disadvantages of Collaborating Conflict Management’ Available at https://smallbusiness.chron.com/advantagesdisadvantages-collaborating-conflict-management-36052.html (Accessed on 01/03/2024).

Samuel. A., ‘Is the Collaborative Style of Conflict Management the Best Approach?’ Available at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/collaborative-style-conflictmanagement-best-approach-samuel-ansah (Accessed on 01/03/2024).

United Nations., ‘Land and Conflict’ Available at https://www.un.org/en/landnatural-resources-conflict/pdfs/GN_ExeS_Land%20and%20Conflict.pdf (Accessed on 01/03/2024).

Weiss. J., & Hughes. J., ‘Want Collaboration?: Accept—and Actively Manage— Conflict’ Available at https://hbr.org/2005/03/want-collaboration-accept-andactively-manage-conflict (Accessed on 01/03/2024).

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