Alternative dispute resolution and peace making for resolving agribusiness and food management conflict resolution in the Free Trade Area of the Americas grass roots initiatives with international applications

Eric Thor, Rodica Evtuhovici

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) will bring together 35 countries with five different languages and over 300 ethnic and cultural groups. As trade, cultural discourse, and other joint efforts develop between countries, private organizations, public entities and individuals, many disputes will arise. In a few countries, the rule of law can solve these disputes effectively. In most others, the rule of law cannot work because of political, social or even criminal events. As NAFTA showed, developing a successful and efficient dispute resolution mechanism is an important component of developing a successful working relationship of the agreement among all the parties and countries. Other Trade Agreements including NAFTA and WTO have found that the successful functioning of these agreements require all private and public parties to think carefully about resolving disputes ahead of time and setting up a number of alternative processes to be used by the parties. Only in Government-to-Government disputes is the system quite simple. Otherwise, there are several models which have been developed in the U.S. and other American countries which can assist in resolving agribusiness and food management conflict resolution in rural communities. Grass roots initiatives with international applications, disputes over land, grazing rights, homes, credit issues and financial resources can be a serious impediment to growth. In Arizona, U.S. and the Americas, this has caused large dollar value disputes, ill will, riots and even death. In both rural and agricultural based Arizona, U.S. and the Americas, this presentation highlights methodology and courses being developed to solve some of these conflicts. Mediation, alternative dispute resolution, peace making and arbitration are techniques that can help solve both commercial and civil disputes. This is particularly true where the rule of law or courts cannot, or will not, be able to solve issues quickly, economically and efficiently. In fact, rural alternative dispute resolution grew out of farmers' disputes, which could not be resolved by the existing institutions. In the U.S., over 70% of disputes referred to mediation are solved to the satisfaction of all parties. Today, around the world, mediation and similar techniques are used in trade matters, cross border issues, land issues, health determinations, divorce and a wide variety of other issues before the courts, government agencies, and other organizations. U.S. and the Americas have more than 100 ethnic groups, which have distinct cultural, business, civil and commercial practices. As an emerging market, it faces a number of problems in multicultural and commercial practices. These problems are challenging the ability of rural agribusiness and food commerce and development. The FTAA Objectives from the San José Ministerial Declaration suggest that this will not be easy. The objective of FTAA will be to establish a fair, transparent and effective mechanism for dispute settlement among FTAA countries, taking into account inter alia the WTO Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes. The FTAA must design ways to facilitate and promote the use of arbitration and other alternative dispute settlement mechanisms, to solve private trade controversies in the framework of the FTAA. Many people fail to realize that restructuring the trade and financial sectors (and many others) without restructuring the judiciary will end in failure. The need for alternative dispute resolution continues to grow, as well as the need to empower the people. The U.S. and the other countries in the Americas, as relatively young countries, can learn a lot from America's Southwest in Arizona, with its long history of disputes and resolution. These techniques have also been tried in other emerging countries, such as Indonesia, with some success. The southwest of the U.S. has over 45 Native American nations, a large Asian and Hispanic community gender issues, and five major religions that must work together to solve disputes, mediate crises and build communities in rural areas. The techniques and institutions that grew out of the U.S. farm credit crisis and America's Southwest's cultural and ethnic diversity could provide a number of ideas, techniques, and educational tools that are useful in alternative dispute and crises resolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Food and Agribusiness Management Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Business and International Management


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