About Inter-Mediation – an organization specializing in collaboration in international development

Purpose. Effective development depends on good relationships between increasingly diverse actors. With this goal in mind, Inter-Mediation was established as a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improving collaborative associations, alliances, consortia, multi-sector and other forms of development relationships. Inter-Mediation’s involvement increases mutual understandings of objectives and constraints, while enhancing appreciation of the values and contributions of allparticipants.

Through facilitation, joint problem solving, and relational capacity building, Inter-Mediation increases the ability of development collaboratives to achieve shared goals. Better negotiation, matching, aligning and integration ofresources and skills can constructively address asymmetries commonly found between development institutions in the North and the South.

Officers. The work of Inter-Mediation is undertaken by Alan Fowler and Joseph McMahon. Dr. Fowler has over 30 years worldwide experience with diverse development institutions. His professional experience includes roles as a manager, adviser, researcher, donor and writer, contributing to development thinking and practice through books, publications and conference presentations. In 1992, he co-founded the International NGO Training and Research Centre (INTRAC) in Oxford. Joseph McMahon is trained both as a engineer and lawyer-facilitator with broad practical experience in conflict resolution and management that has included a wide range of communities, civic organisations, businesses and government agencies. His work involves facilitation to improve collaborative processes by resolving relational problems, particularly in natural resource, environmental and international development programs.

Our guiding principles

Real collaboration is needed. Our global society is characterized by widespread poverty and accelerating levels of inequality that affront human dignity. Some eighty percent of the world’s gross domestic product belongs to 1 billion people. The remaining twenty percent is shared by more than 5 billion. No single actor or sector can solve problems of poverty and inequality or the impact of people on the natural environment. The definition, choice and implementation of solutions therefore require the combined effort of all parts of society. Achieving this type of collaboration is a complex process that calls for dedicated effort and expertise. Reference: The Inequality Predicament, United Nations, 2005 at 1.
A characteristic of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century is a growing conviction that solving a society’s problems must be a united effort of citizens and their associations, governments and businesses. Whether domestically, or in terms of international development co-operation, the importance of aligning and combining the competencies and functions of diverse institutions is a common theme of political discussion and public policy choice. The concept used to capture and express this ideal has many labels. A Third Way , ‘new localism’ and ‘compassionate conservatism’ all share a perspective of broad multi-institutional collaboration. However, the most ubiquitous and enduring word and concept to identify this approach is ‘partnership’.

This relational preference is found in different arenas. In terms of domestic policy in the West there is an active search for public-private partnerships (PPP). While, internationally, “partnership” is the overarching framework for the aid system, Poverty Reduction Strategies, a Global Compact and acceptance of corporate social responsibility, should provide increasing opportunities and frameworks for engagement between civil society, business and government to pursue socially responsible, poverty-reducing agendas. In some frameworks, multi-sector alignments (market, government, donors, NGOs and communities) seek to improve the quality of life and public services in low income communities.
We are at a time in the history of globalization where dealing with ‘problems of progress’ – that can increase instability and insecurity – calls for the mobilization of forces and adoption of policies that reduce barriers between state, market and civil society at all levels of their operation: from local to global. The challenge is to bring together what each part of society has to offer such that the result is more than the sum of the parts.

However, achieving this synergy locally, nationally and internationally, poses a critical question: How can this type of complex relationship – with its implications for mutuality, equity, balance and sharing – be gained as well as sustained against a background of power differences, resource diversity, different institutional logics and incentives, and historic mistrust and antagonisms? One answer is to consciously work on relational development. This is the perspective that informs Inter-Mediation’s creation and development contribution.

How Inter-Mediation began. Inter-Mediation was formed in response to an observation that there is little use of facilitation and support to collaborative processes in the international aid system. The term “facilitation” to describe processes whereby a neutral and independent party (such as Inter-Mediation) meets with participants to help develop agendae, improve interactions and guide communications among participants toward agreed goals. In this instance, the goal is to reduce poverty and inequity by improving the allocation and application of international aid.
Inter-Mediation’s contribution is distinctive and unique in being dedicated to enhancing the effectiveness of international aid by improving collaboration among diverse development actors. Inter-Mediation’s involvement, for example, in roles as a facilitator, mediator and builder of relational capacity increases mutual understandings, heightens appreciation of the values and contributions of participants, improves the function of the joint efforts and, more directly, constructively addresses the asymmetries commonly found between development actors.