Belgrade, Serbia, August 25, 2006—The
International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World
Bank Group, has opened a new commercial mediation center in Belgrade. The
mediation center is a joint partnership with the Ministry of Justice, the
National Bank of Serbia, the Belgrade Chamber of Commerce, and the nongovernmental
organization Children’s Rights.
Speaking at the official opening of the center, IFC’s Executive Vice President,
Lars Thunell, said, “Alternative dispute resolution is part of IFC’s
overall program of investment and technical assistance in Serbia. We
believe it is an important factor in enhancing the business enabling environment,
as it helps unlock capital and improve access to finance while reducing
pressure on the courts. We are fortunate to have the strong support
of the Ministry of Justice here in Serbia, as well as our other partners.
We are also very grateful to the governments of Canada and the Netherlands,
who are providing grant funding for the project.”
Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party, the mediator, assists
in reaching a mutually acceptable solution to a business dispute. The
mediator uses a variety of skills and techniques to help the parties reach
an agreement, but has no power to make a decision. Because the agreement
is negotiated, it can often be more creative than a judgment imposed by
the court, allowing a greater probability of a “win-win” resolution.
“The opening of the center is one of the most important elements in the
reform of our judiciary. This mediation center will provide a more
efficient and cheaper way of resolving commercial disputes while at the
same time cutting the backlog of cases we face in our courts,” said the
Serbian Minister of Justice, Zoran Stojkovic.
The mediation center will also train mediators and issue mediation licenses.
In addition, it will offer seminars and courses on using mediation
in commercial disputes.
IFC, through its regional facility, the Private Enterprise Partnership—Southeast
Europe, has introduced mediation as an alternative method of commercial
dispute resolution in the region’s countries. In the past two years,
over 1,500 cases have been successfully mediated in the region, freeing
up about €12 million of commercial funds. Pilot projects, which were
set up in 2003-2004, have shown an average success rate of 81 percent,
while reducing time taken to resolve disputes from an average of 466 days
through the courts to an average of just 2.4 hours through mediation. The
speed of the process is one of the primary attractions of mediation.
The International Finance Corporation is the private sector arm of the
World Bank Group and is headquartered in Washington, D.C.. Its 178 member
countries provide its share capital and collectively determine its policies.
The mission of IFC is to promote sustainable private sector investment
in developing and transition countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve
people’s lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing
world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, helps
clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical
assistance and advice to governments and businesses. From its founding
in 1956 through FY05, IFC has committed more than $49 billion of its own
funds and arranged $24 billion in syndications for 3,319 companies in 140
developing countries. IFC’s worldwide committed portfolio as of FY05 was
$19.3 billion for its own account and $5.3 billion held for participants
in loan syndications. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.