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Access to Justice and Achieving Right to Clean and Healthy Environment and Sustainable Development in Kenya

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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)*

Access to justice is a fundamental pillar achieving the right to clean, safe and healthy environment and Sustainable Development, and the Constitution of Kenya makes it the responsibility of the government to facilitate access to justice for its citizens. It has been argued that enhancing access to justice in Kenya can ensure strong legal frameworks and effective institutions, coupled with greater levels of legal empowerment for the poor and marginalized, which ensures right to clean, safe and healthy environment and the Sustainable Development objectives are achieved.

Access to justice is at the core of the Sustainable Development paradigm, driving efforts to correct artificial and harmful imbalances in economic growth, to remedy the miseries of lives lived in extreme poverty, and to ensure that natural resources and habitats are preserved for present and future generations. Enhancing access to justice in Kenya can foster the realization of all three dimensions of Sustainable Development being economic growth, social progress and environmental protection.

Access to justice ensures effective legislative frameworks and enhanced institutional capacity to adjudicate commercial disputes which is vital in helping to level the playing field for economic actors, and promote the growth of entrepreneurship, small and medium sized enterprises, and innovation therefore promoting economic growth. In addition, access to justice can foster social progress by ensuring the presence of transparent and participatory dispute resolution mechanisms that allow individuals and groups to claim their rights to equal opportunity, education, health, land and other economic and social rights towards combating poverty and marginalization. Further, access to justice ensures environmental protection through initiatives such as public participation and access to information in environmental and sustainability decision-making and legal redress in case of breach of environmental rights.

The Constitution of Kenya sets out constitutional safeguards that are important in realizing the right of access to justice in Kenya. In addition to article 48 which sets out the right of access to justice in Kenya, the Constitution provides that every person has the right to institute court proceedings claiming that a right or fundamental freedom in the Bill of Rights has been denied, violated or infringed, or is threatened. The Constitution also embraces the right of equality and freedom from discrimination which is vital in realizing access to justice and provides that every person is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law.

In addition, the Constitution of Kenya envisages access to justice in environmental matters and stipulates that if a person alleges that a right to a clean and healthy environment recognised and protected under article 42 has been, is being or is likely to be, denied, violated, infringed or threatened, the person may apply to a court for redress in addition to any other legal remedies that are available in respect to the same matter. Another fundamental provision of the Constitution geared towards enhancing access to justice is chapter ten which sets out judicial authority.

Article 159 sets out several principles that are supposed to guide the administration of justice in Kenya. These principles are to the effect that justice shall be done to all, irrespective of status; justice shall not be delayed; alternative forms of dispute resolution including reconciliation, mediation, arbitration and traditional dispute resolution mechanisms shall be promoted; justice shall be administered without undue regard to procedural technicalities; and that the purpose and principles of the Constitution shall be protected and promoted.

There have been efforts towards enhancing access to Kenya as envisaged by the foregoing provisions of the Constitution towards fostering Sustainable Development. The Judiciary notes that access to justice is vital for Sustainable Development since it is essential in realizing the Social Transformation through Access to Justice (STAJ) vision particularly for the poor, marginalized, and vulnerable.

According to the Judiciary, several initiatives have been undertaken towards promoting access to justice in Kenya for Sustainable Development. These include improving physical access through construction of more court infrastructure, operationalizing mobile courts in remote areas to enhance access to justice for the marginalized and vulnerable groups, embracing court circuits aimed at deploying judges and judicial officers to specific court stations with high caseloads in order to accelerate the determination of disputes, administration of pro-bono schemes, simplification of court procedures, embracing electronic filing (e-filing) of court documents, and the establishment of specialized courts including tribunals and small claims courts.

In addition, enhancing access to justice for Sustainable Development in Kenya is being realized through Alternative Justice Systems(AJS). Alternative Justice Systems refer to the administration of justice by the people using their culture, customary law, practices and beliefs to resolve disputes. They are a form of restorative justice that aims to ensure social inclusion, and are generally more affordable, participatory and more expeditious than court processes. They have been described as a useful avenue of responding to the challenge of backlog of court cases.

The idea of Alternative Justice Systems embraces Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms in the quest towards access to justice. ADR denotes a wide range of dispute management techniques that function outside but may be linked to formal court processes. ADR has also been defined as a set of processes that are used to manage conflicts without resort to courts. The term ADR encompasses many dispute resolution techniques including negotiation, mediation, arbitration, conciliation, adjudication, early neutral evaluation, expert determination, minitrials, traditional justice systems among others.

ADR mechanisms play a fundamental role in enhancing access to justice for Sustainable Development. These mechanisms are rooted in the culture and values of Kenyan people and emphasize harmony, humanness and togetherness over individual interests therefore creating a conducive environment for economic, social, cultural and political development towards realizing the Sustainable Development agenda.

Promoting ADR mechanisms is therefore necessary in enhancing access to justice for Sustainable Development in Kenya. The Constitution of Kenya requires the Judiciary to promote ADR mechanisms including reconciliation, mediation, arbitration and traditional dispute resolution mechanisms. The Judiciary notes that progress has been made towards embracing Alterative Justice Systems and ADR mechanisms in Kenya through measures such as the adoption of the Alternative Justice Systems Policy, capacity building on Alternative Justice Systems through training, and the continued implementation of the Court Annexed Mediation programme. There is need to widely embrace Alternative Justice Systems in Kenya in order to enhance access to justice for Sustainable Development in Kenya.

Further, progress has been made towards enhancing access to justice for Sustainable Development in Kenya by promoting Environmental Justice. Environmental Justice entails the right to have access to natural resources; not to suffer disproportionately from environmental policies, laws and regulations; and the right to environmental information, participation and involvement in decision-making. Environmental justice can be fostered through measures such as public participation, access to information and access to justice.

Courts and tribunals including the Environment and Land Court and the National Environment Tribunal are playing a pivotal role in enhancing access to justice in environmental matters for Sustainable Development in Kenya. It has rightly been pointed out that the Environment and Land Court and the National Environment Tribunal are key actors in the Sustainable Development discourse in terms of developing environmental jurisprudence geared towards environmental protection and conservation. These judicial entities have discharged this mandate through orders aimed at enhancing Sustainable Development and promoting environmental conservation in Kenya. In particular, it has been pointed out that the National Environment Tribunal (NET) facilitates both distributive and procedural justice by providing a framework through which the right to a clean and healthy environment can be enforced.

Through some of its decisions, the Tribunal has ensured that the state’s obligations in respect of the environment enshrined under the Constitution have been undertaken. The tribunal further promotes access to justice by providing an avenue through which persons who are aggrieved by some of the decisions of the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) can seek recourse. NET and the Environment and Land Court therefore play an important role in enhancing access to justice in environmental matters for Sustainable Development. Despite the progress made towards enhancing access to justice for Sustainable Development in Kenya, realizing this ideal is hindered by several challenges.

The right of access to justice in Kenya has hitherto been hampered by many unfavourable factors such as high court filing fees, bureaucracy, complex legal procedures, illiteracy, distance from formal courts, backlog of cases in courts and lack of legal knowhow. In addition, it has been pointed out that access to justice in Kenya, especially by the marginalized, poor, uneducated and underprivileged in the society, is hindered by several factors including lack of infrastructure, high advocacy fees, illiteracy, lack of information, long distance to the courts and the long durations of time it takes to resolve disputes in courts. It is vital to address these concerns in order to enhance access to justice for Sustainable Development in Kenya.

*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

Ako. R., ‘Resource Exploitation and Environmental Justice: the Nigerian Experience,‘ in F.N. Botchway (ed), Natural Resource Investment and Africa’s Development, (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2011), pp. 74- 76.

Cerezo. L, & Garcia. G., ‘Lay Knowledge and Public Participation in Technological and Environmental Policy.’ Available at https://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/SPT/v2n1/pdf/CEREZO.PDF (Accessed on 05/01/2023).

Constitution of Kenya, 2010, Government Printer, Nairobi

Dereymaeker, G.,‘Formalising the Role of Paralegals in Africa: A Review of Legislative and Policy Developments. Cape Town: Dullah Omar Institute (CSPRI), Open Society Justice Initiative and Paralegal Advisory Service Institute, (2016) pp.1-32.

Environmental Management and Coordination Act, No. 8 of 1999, Government Printer, Nairobi.

International Development Law Organization., ‘Access to Justice in Kenya.’ Available at https://www.idlo.int/what-we-do/initiatives/access-justice-kenya (Accessed on 04/01/2024).

International Development Law Organization., ‘Doing Justice to Sustainable Development: Integrating The Rule of Law into the Post-2015 Development Agenda.’ Available at https://www.idlo.int/sites/default/files/pdfs/publications/Doing%20Justice%20t o%20Sustainable%20 Development.pdf (Accessed on 05/01/2023)

Judiciary of Kenya., ‘Alternative Justice Systems Baseline Policy and Policy Framework.’ Available at https://judiciary.go.ke/download/alternative-justicesystems-baseline-policy-and-policy-framework/ (Accessed on 05/01/2024).

Judiciary of Kenya., ‘State of the Judiciary and the Administration of Justice Annual Report 2022/2023’ Available at https://judiciary.go.ke/sojar-2022-2023-2/ (Accessed on 05/01/2023).

Ladan, M. T., ‘Access to Justice as a Human Right Under the ECOWAS Community Law.’ https://www.researchgate.net/publication/272246292_Access_to_Justice_as_a_Hu man_Right_Under_the_Ecowas_Community_Law (Accessed on 04/01/2024).

Muigua. K., & Kariuki. F., ‘ADR, Access to Justice and Development in Kenya.’ Available at https://kmco.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/ADR-access-tojustice-and-development-in-Kenya-Revised-version-of-20.10.14.pdf (Accessed on 05/01/2023).

Muigua. K., ‘Access to Justice and Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms in Kenya’ Available at https://kmco.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/ACCESS-TOJUSTICE-AND-ALTERNATIVE-DISPUTE-RESOLUTION-MECHANISMS-INKENYA-23rd-SEPTEMBER-2018.pdf (Accessed on 05/01/2023).

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

Muigua. K., ‘Mainstreaming Alternative Justice Systems in Africa.’ Available at https://kmco.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/Mainstreaming-AlternativeJustice-Systems-in-Africa.pdf (Accessed on 05/01/2023).

Muigua. K., ‘Mainstreaming Alternative Justice Systems in Africa.’ Op Cit 43 Uwazie. E., ‘Alternative Dispute Resolution in Africa: Preventing Conflict and Enhancing Stability.’ Africa Security Brief, No. 16 of 2011

Muigua. K., ‘Realizing Environmental Justice through Litigation.’ Available at https://kmco.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/Realizing-EnvironmentalJustice-through-Litigation.pdf (Accessed on 05/01/2023).

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

Muigua. K., ‘Towards Meaningful Public Participation in Natural Resource Management in Kenya.’ Available at http://kmco.co.ke/wp- content/uploads/2018/08/TOWARDSMEANINGFUL-PUBLICPARTICIPATIONIN-NATURAL-RESOURCEMANAGEMENT-IN-KENYA.pdf (Accessed on 05/01/2023).

Muigua. K., Kariuki. F., ‘Towards Environmental Justice in Kenya.’ Available at https://kmco.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Towards-EnvironmentalJustice-in-Kenya-January-2015.pdf (Accessed on 05/01/2023).

Muigua. K., Kariuki. F., ‘Towards Environmental Justice in Kenya.’ Op Cit 53 Muigua. K., ‘National Environment Tribunal, Sustainable Development and Access to Justice in Kenya.’ Available at https://kmco.co.ke/wpcontent/uploads/2020/03/National-Environment-Tribunal-Sustainable Development-and-Access-to-Justice-in-Kenya-1.pdf (Accessed on 05/01/2023)

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Ojwang. J.B, “The Role of the Judiciary in Promoting Environmental Compliance and Sustainable Development,” 1 Kenya Law Review Journal 19 (2007), pp. 19-29.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development., ‘Leveraging the SDGs for Inclusive Growth: Delivering Access to Justice for All.’ Available at https://www.oecd.org/gov/delivering-access-to-justice-for-all.pdf (Accessed on 04/01/2023).

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SDG Resource Centre., ‘Access to Justice.’ Available at https://sdgresources.relx.com/tags/access-justice (Accessed on 04/01/2023)

The Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters., Available at https://unece.org/DAM/env/pp/documents/cep43e.pdf (Accessed on 05/01/2023).

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)., ‘From Promise to Practice: Access to Information for Sustainable Development.’ Available at https://www.unesco.org/en/articles/promise-practice-access-informationsustainabledevelopment#:~: text=Access%20to%20information%20(ATI)%20is,about%20decisions%20 affecting%20their%20lives. (Accessed on 05/01/2023).

United Nations Development Programme., ‘Strengthening Judicial Integrity through Enhanced Access to Justice.’ Available at https://www.undp.org/sites/g/files/zskgke326/files/migration/eurasia/Accessto-justice.pdf (Accessed on 05/01/2023).

United Nations General Assembly., ‘Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development: Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.’ A/CONF. 151/26 (Vol.1), Principle 10.

United Nations General Assembly., ‘Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.’ 21 October 2015, A/RES/70/1., Available at https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/21252030%20Agenda %20for%20Sustainabl e%20Development%20web.pdf (Accessed on 04/01/2023).

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime., ‘Partners Welcome move to Mainstream Alternative Justice Systems in Kenya.’ Available at https://www.unodc.org/easternafrica/en/Stories/partnerswelcome-move-tomainstream-alternative-justice-systemsinkenya.html#:~:text=AJS%20may%20be%20defined %20as,more%20expeditious%20 than%20court%20proc esses (Accessed on 05/01/2024).

United Nations., ‘Access to Justice.’ Available at https://www.un.org/ruleoflaw/thematic-areas/access-to-justice-and-rule-of-lawinstitutions/access-to-justice/ (Accessed on 04/01/2024).

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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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).

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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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