Why Trump and Kim Could Use a Mediator

A mediator is not just for divorce.  In fact, there is an organization, Mediators Beyond Borders, which promotes the use of mediators in all sorts of international conflicts.  A representative of the organization has even spoken in front of the United Nations to encourage mediation.


Regardless of your perspective on the recent summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jung Un, there is one thing that seems clear to me: they could use a mediator.

How Mediators Could Help in International Diplomacy

Here is how a mediator could help:

  • A mediator is a neutral third party who helps people resolve disputes.  Though the first meeting between the national leaders seems to have had a friendly tone, there is no doubt that things will get tough.  In divorce negotiations, discussions can start off easy, but many times they devolve.  A mediator can be there to keep discussions focused on the future rather than past actions and words that caused the dispute.  A good mediator could keep President Trump and Chairman Kim focused on the future.
  • A mediator is a peacemaker.  In divorce, they are trying to prevent couples from destroying their family and finances in protracted litigation.  In international diplomacy, they are there to help prevent nations from going to war.
  • A mediator can include help from different disciplines to help people reach agreement.  In the family law context, this allows for co-mediation where an attorney-mediator helps clients reach agreements that satisfy legal requirements while therapist-mediators help parents tailor a custody schedule for their children’s developmental needs.  In the international context, it may mean that the diplomat-mediator brings in nuclear scientists or cultural specialists when specialized knowledge is needed.
  • Mediators will reduce any agreement to writing.  This is done so that people will be able to keep track of what they agreed to, and so there is less likely to be dispute about the agreement since it was written by someone without a stake in the outcome.  In domestic relations and family law, spouses oftentimes do not agree upon what was agreed upon. Without involving someone to record agreements, as was the case during the initial meeting between the President and the Chairman, there is more likely to be disagreement about what was discussed.

Whether you are facing a dispute between nations or are dissolving your marriage, mediation can help you.

Adam B. Cordover received a Master’s Degree in International Affairs from the School of International Service at American University in Washington, D.C.  He is also a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law Mediator.  He teaches attorneys, mental health professionals, financial professionals, and mediators how to offer collaborative practice, mediation, and other forms of private dispute resolution.