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USAID Enhances Sri Lanka’s Investment Climate with Commercial Mediation Initiative

June 08, Colombo (LNW): The United States, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is bolstering Sri Lanka’s investment climate by enhancing access to commercial alternative dispute resolution (ADR). This initiative has resulted in the U.S.-sponsored training and accreditation of 23 international commercial mediators in Sri Lanka, effectively doubling the number of qualified mediators available to offer businesses a faster and more cost-effective alternative to traditional court litigation.

As part of USAID’s Efficient and Effective Justice (EEJ) project, these mediators have undergone comprehensive training in key areas such as communication, problem-solving, managing emotions, and overcoming impasses. The training was conducted by the Singapore International Mediation Centre (SIMC), a renowned independent, not-for-profit organization specializing in ADR and ADR training. Following a four-month mentorship program, these mediators will employ their new skills to facilitate around 100 commercial mediations in Sri Lanka by October 2026.

Commercial mediation, a vital form of ADR, offers a quicker resolution for disputes between businesses, or between businesses and the government or consumers. This method is not only cost-effective but also aims to preserve business relationships and supports international trade by ensuring that international settlement agreements can be enforced more effectively.

At a ceremony honoring the newly trained commercial mediators, Doug Sonnek, Deputy Chief of Mission for the U.S. Embassy, remarked, “The United States is dedicated to collaborating with Sri Lanka to create a favorable investment climate by embracing international best practices. This partnership not only equips mediators with essential skills to sidestep expensive litigation but also supports their ongoing development, thereby contributing to economic resilience and growth in Sri Lanka.”

USAID provides extensive support for ADR in Sri Lanka through the EEJ project, which collaborates with local and international experts to offer training in commercial mediation, negotiation, and ADR best practices to lawyers, law students, ADR centers, and companies. The EEJ also participates in pilot programs for judicial and court-referred mediation in partnership with the Court of Appeal and Commercial High Courts, aiming to resolve disputes swiftly and reduce delays and backlogs in the justice system. Through these comprehensive initiatives, the EEJ enhances the overall efficacy of the judicial process in Sri Lanka.

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