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Over the last fifty years, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) has become a fixture of the conflict resolution landscape. As its label suggests, ADR is generally viewed as an alternative to adjudication, developed in response to litigation's liabilities-its expense, delay, adversarialism, and limits as a tool for addressing complex problems. In contrast, ADR's value rests in its capacity to produce prompt, fair, and efficient resolutions that satisfy the disputants.

ADR proponents and critics alike presuppose that the benefits of ADR are achieved at inevitable costs. The assumption is that informal conflict resolution necessarily resolves disputes for the disputants and no one else. It does so by satisfying the interests of those involved in the immediate conflict, often under guarantees of confidentiality. As a result, it is argued, ADR does not and cannot generate values or solutions that can apply beyond the scope of the particular dis pute. In this sense, it is assumed that informal conflict resolution is necessarily non-normative, and that it cannot yield more general public values or solutions to problems affecting more than the individual disputants.


Dispute Resolution and Arbitration | Law