Using interfaith forum for alternative dispute resolution

Using interfaith forum for alternative dispute resolution


Religion is frequently cited as one of the causes of violent conflict in the Indian sub-continent. However, dialogues between the leaders and activists working for inter-faith peace building in Bangladesh often reveals that religion is not one of the reasons which triggered the conflict in the first place. It is also reported in Atrocities on Minorities(2015) edited by Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council that quite often dispute erupts from minor causes resulting into maximum damages to the communities, especially the minority communities. The inter-faith leaders and activists have identified that taking recourse to alternative resolution, e.g., negotiation, mediation, fact finding etc., can curb the tension in the bud and can help the communities to settle down even before any kind of conflict taking place. In a number of occasions, sitting in a dialogue after identifying the conflict and causes of conflict has defused the tension and resolved the matter peacefully. Such dialogues have helped the communities to live in harmony.

It is high time that the inter-faith leaders and activists of Bangladesh receive training on alternative dispute resolution, which is recognized in a number of countries, e.g., Sri Lanka, USA, Malaysia, UK, European Countries, Guatemala, Australia, Canada etc. Dialogue, negotiation, mediation and fact finding are the popular methods of alternative dispute resolution in those countries. Interfaith forums, like – Interfaith (UK), KAICIID, US Institute of Peace etc., are using these methods on a regular basis to curb tension among the communities and they are providing certificate training courses to the leaders and activists. Unfortunately, the religious minority groups and inter-faith forums of Bangladesh are not conducting any training program on these kinds of dispute resolution methods.

How to use this Chapter

This chapter will be used as an on-hand introduction to the aforesaid methods. At first, different ADR related terms will be defined since some of the terms may not be known to the trainees. After that, among the methods of ADR, ‘dialogue’ will be introduced at first, which will be followed by ‘negotiation’, ‘mediation’ and ‘fact-finding’. In every section, the techniques of successful completion of the dispute resolution will be described summarily. There are some common techniques, e.g., use of language, which a trainee will be using in every kind of resolution.These common techniques will be discussed in the first part and will not be repeatedin the following parts. Since the practice of resolving religious tensions and conflicts through alternative dispute resolution is not widely practiced in Bangladesh, it was not possible to include case-studies for all the ADR options. However, exercises are provided after each and every section where the participants can display their ADR skills through role-playing.

Therefore this chapter will discuss the following issues:

Definition of Terms

Methods of ADR



Fact Finding


Definition of Terms:


Interfaith, UK has defined dialogue as a “discussion in which there is a respectful and open exchange of views with the intention of greater cooperation and understanding”.[1]Dialogue can be informal and formal. Informal dialogue takes place every day between people, among friends; whereas, formal dialogue usually involves sustained and ongoing interaction through an organized process with some degree of structure.[2] The main focus of this chapter is formal dialogue.


Interfaith dialogue means cooperative, constructive and positive interaction between people of different religious faiths.[3] Interfaith dialogues have more recently adopted the name of ‘inter-belief dialogue’ to be more accurate concerning many world religions because they do not place the same emphasis on ‘faith’as do some Western religions.[4]  All through the world there are local, regional, national and international interfaith initiatives.[5] Among these initiatives, many are formally or informally linked and constitute larger networks.[6]

Multi faith:

The multi faith dialogue can be defined as dialogue occurs between members of more than two faiths. This may be as a component of an organized meeting of individuals from an assortment of beliefs to talk about a specific issue or to address matters of basic concern, like community cohesion. Multi faith allows moderates and fundamentalists to enter the discussion without having them feel like they are compromising their faith.[7] This is a necessary thing because these groups have much to contribute.[8] Furthermore, most of the conflict exists between moderate/conservative or fundamentalist groups of the different faiths.[9] This kind of dialogue makes much more potential for advancing harmony.[10]

Religious Tension:

The previous decade has witnessed a sharp expansion in violent sectarian or religious tensions.[11] There are numerous interactions provoke tension on different levels.[12] Following points can be considered as basic interactions which may provoke religious tension-

Firstly, the tension exists within the life of a religious human being which takes into consideration one’s belief.

Secondly, the second tension can be identified as it is created between the behavior expected of a believer by a certain religion and the social behavior expected in a group or in a community.

Thirdly, the tension between the political sphere and the conduct that is expected from a religious faith.

Finally, there exists a tension from the contrast between State institutions and religious institutions.

Religious Conflict

The term Religious conflict provides a conflict has religious root causes which is fought in the name of and over religious causes.[13]

ADR Methods:

There are different kinds of methods that interfaith groups use worldwide for dispute resolution in religious tension or conflicts. Among them dialogue, mediation and fact finding are the popular ones.[14]


In Bangladesh people of different religions and beliefs live side by side. Freedom of religion and belief advocates should work together to build a society deeply rooted in the values, for example – secularism, mentioned in the Constitution of Bangladesh.But this society can be built on a foundation of mutual respect, openness and trust. This means finding ways to live our lives of faith with integrity, and allowing others to do so too.[15] Our different religious traditions offer us many resources for this and teach us the importance of good relationships characterized by honesty, compassion and generosity of spirit.[16] The Inter Faith Network of UK offereda code of conductto be observed in interfaith dialogues for encouraging and strengthening these relationships.[17]

Code of Conduct of the Interfaith Network of UK[18]

·         Respecting other people’s freedom within the law to express their beliefs and convictions and the convictions of others about food, dress and social etiquette and not behaving in ways which cause needless offence.

·         Learning to understand what others actually believe and value, and letting them express this in their own terms

·         Working to prevent disagreement from leading to conflict and try to avoid violence in our relationships.

·         Recognizing that listening as well as speaking is necessary for a genuine conversation

·         Being honest about our beliefs and religious allegiances and straightforward about our intentions

·         Not misrepresenting or disparaging other people’s beliefs and practices

·         Correcting misunderstanding or misrepresentations not only of our own but also of other faiths whenever we come across them

·         Accepting that in formal inter faith meetings there is a particular responsibility to ensure that the religious commitment of all those who are present will be respected

·         Respecting another person’s expressed wish to be left alone

·         Avoiding imposing ourselves and our views on individuals or communities who are in vulnerable situations in ways which exploit these

·         Avoiding violent action or language, threats, manipulation, improper inducements, or the misuse of any kind of power

·         Respecting the right of others to disagree with us.

Types of Dialogue: Dialogue can be between two faiths only, which is known as bilateral dialogue.[19] This kind of dialogue is generally considered for historic imperative and current needs.[20] In Bangladesh, most of the time, we will need bilateral dialogue for curbing the tensions in the bud. This model is better for addressing local issues. Rural clerics and FoRB advocates can use this model. It is cheap because it will be organized in the locality.


Reflection 1: Tension after a Football Match (The incident is fictitious but the village is real)

In Dasar, Madaripur there is a hostel for the Hindu students. These students have come from adjacent districts to study in the schools and colleges of Dasar and Sasikar. On 1 March 20X9, in the afternoon there was a football match between the students of the hostel (Team Hostel Boys) and the youngsters of Dasar (Team Dasar Boys), most of who are Muslims. A lot of people gathered at the field to enjoy the match. It was a very tensed and contested match. After the half time, each team scored a goal. Around 80th minute to the game, the striker of Hostel Boys got roughly tackled by a defender of Dasar Boys. The striker yelled at the defender in pain and anger that, ‘you beef-eaters, all you can do is run like a bull’. It was heard by most of the people who were near to the incident. As soon as he uttered the words a chaos ensued. The game finished in due course but everyone was leaving with a tension. In the evening, a rumor was moving around that Muslim youngsters will attack the Hindu Hostel and adjacent Hindu houses.


1.       How do you think you can intervene to curb this tension?

2.       What kind of method you will use?

3.       What techniques you will use?

Dialogue can also be organized among multi faiths, i.e., among more than two faiths. This model is better for addressing national crisis. It is rather expensive model since more people will be involved and in the perspective of Bangladesh, multi-faith dialogue can be organized in the divisional headquarters of Bangladesh, i.e., Dhaka, Chottogram, Sylhet, Rajshahi, Rangpur, Barishal, Khulna, and Mymensingh, considering the availability of space and other resources. Recently, on 04 March 2021 Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) organized a multi-faith dialogue to talk about the succession rights of Hindu women and to present a draft law titled Hindu Women Succession Act.[21] Due to covid situation, this dialogue was organized virtually. This event has showed us that in any pandemic if the internet is available, digital platform can be used to organize multi-faith dialogue. It can be suggested that certain national issues, like - budgeting for construction and renovation of place of worship and pilgrimage, religious education, uniform family code, etc. can be resolved through multi-faith dialogue.

Guidelines for Organizing Interfaith Dialogue:

Abrahamic Faiths Peacemaking Initiative[22], has provided a guideline for organizing interfaith dialogue in the community.

Guidelines for Organizing Interfaith Dialogue[23]

·         Provide appropriate and comfortable meeting space for the group.

·         Arrange space to allow for democratic participation; be aware of the access needs and dietary restrictions of faith group members.

·         Arrive in advance of participants so hospitality is ready and available when participants begin to arrive.

·         Have sufficient supplies and copies of materials available for participants in advance.

·         Allow adequate time for introductions and use nametags until members are known to the leaders and each other.

·         Commit to beginning and ending sessions on time.

·         Build the community. Include opening and closing exercises that help participants to get to know the other members of the group.

·         Create a climate that supports prayer and reflection. Use the prayers and rituals of various traditions to support learning. Allow time and space for silence as well as for speaking.

·         Remind participants that dialogue is as much (perhaps more) about listening as it is about speaking. Practice listening skills with the group if necessary. Insist that put-downs of people or their feelings are unacceptable.

·         Plan for a diversity of learning styles using a variety of media, print, visuals, discussion, etc.

·         Seek a balance in participation. Watch for individuals or groups who dominate, as well as those who are silent. Encourage everyone, but also give everyone the right to pass in any discussion.

·         Make it clear that no member of the group will be forced to share more than he/she feels comfortable to reveal.

·         Enlist the whole group in taking responsibility for making the experience work.


Reflection 2: What happened in the evening?

After the football match when you heard the rumor, you as a FoRB activist, organized a dialogue among the Muslim and the Hindu leaders of the village.


1.       What guidelines you will set for this dialogue?

2.       How will you communicate the guidelines with the participants?

3.      What will you do if one of the participants do not want to follow your guideline?

How to Approach Difficult Issues in a Dialogue:

Interfaith, UK has suggested a number of helpful considerations that the participants can use during the dialogue.

Helpful Considerations for Addressing Difficult Issues in a Dialogue[24]

Where difficult issues are under discussion, there are some useful additional things to bear in mind. A number of helpful considerations can be made when planning for dialogue on a potentially difficult issue.

Topics, participants and format

·         What is the topic of focus?

·         What are the desired outcomes?

·         Will there be a facilitator – and if so, who might be suitable?

·         Do certain areas need particular care in discussion? If so, how would these be addressed if they were to arise during the dialogue?

·         Is there a need to consult or involve a person or persons who have particular expertise that can be drawn upon in the course of the dialogue?

·         What advance preparation may be needed? For example, will there be useful materials for consultation during the dialogue (Contentious issues are usually complex and sensitive and time and resources are needed to enable participants to engage with historical analysis, issues of language, issues relating to inclusion and exclusion among other things)?

Thinking about time

·         How much time is likely to be needed in order to enter into fruitful dialogue? What is it possible to cover in the time available, and what might have to wait for another time?

·         If people do not know each other, will there be time for proper introductions?

Thinking about space

·         Is the venue likely to be acceptable to all involved?

·         Is there space for smaller groups to talk amongst themselves, or for participants to sit in a circle if wished?

Other considerations

·         Does the dialogue contain an expectation of confidentiality?

·         Will the dialogue be subject to the Chatham House Rule, where ‘participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed’?

·         Will a statement or report be produced at the end – if so, how will it be agreed and cleared?

Before the dialogue begins reaffirm that the dialogue is for mutual learning and to enable people to develop their understanding of the viewpoints of others; that it will build on commonalities, but honour difference and thought through disagreement; and that all dialogue will be respectful and open. Ensure that all agree upon:

·         The principles upon which the dialogue is based

·         The ground rules for all to follow

·         The boundaries within which the dialogue will take place

·         Whether people will speak formally in turn (at least initially) or whether there will be a more free style of conversation from the start (if this has not been agreed prior to the dialogue)?

·         The confidentiality or otherwise of discussion; how it will be recorded and that no record of the discussion will be published until it has been agreed by all the participants (or those to whom the task of clearance is delegated)

During the dialogue:

·         Avoid assumptions about what is important to others in the dialogue – what might seem a small matter to one person can be a very important to another

·         Ensure that issues are considered equitably

When the dialogue finishes

·         If possible, draw out key areas of agreement and points where difference remains. Ensure that all participants are satisfied with the summary

·         Make sure that all participants know what is going to happen next

Recognize that the process was about deepening understanding and helping to build better relationships between participants. Seek to ensure that participants leave on good terms.


Reflection 3: Things you will do before, during and after the dialogue


1.       Please list the issues you are going to discuss in the dialogue.

2.       What kind of language you will use and what kind of words you will avoid during the dialogue? Can you list them?

3.       What you will do during the dialogue?

4.       What you will do after the dialogue?

Who can get involved in a dialogue?

This important question is simple but the answer could be deceptive. To decide about the participants, the organizers of a dialogue may consider the following pointers provided by Orton (2016):

  • Draw attention to the range of different possible participants within interfaith dialogue, and the different worldviews and cultures they may bring to the process;[25]
  • Include individuals and groups who share a commitment to an organized religion, even if their particular religious affiliation or theology differs, e.g., atheistic or agnostic worldviews, or with more diverse and fluid forms of religious identity, affiliation and/or practice;[26]
  • Draw attention to whether the intended participants in interfaith dialogue are there primarily in their capacity as individuals, or whether the intention is to use the interfaith dialogue as a means of facilitating intergroup/inter-organizational interaction.[27]

Who is Missing?The organizers, advocates and the participants must look back into which group of participants are missing. This is often the case that a particular issue or situation requires the mandatory participation of a certain group, and they are missing – in these cases the dialogue will not be fruitful.[28] For example, it will not be a fruitful dialogue if in a dispute over when to usesoundboxesin a DurgaMandapduring theDurga Puja near a Mosque, everyone is invited except the organizers of the Durga Puja.

What is the Dialogue for?

An inter-faith dialogue may be organized for different reasons. Orton (2016) has mentioned the following reasons[29]

  • To build mutual understanding;
  • Co-ordination for collective action on issues of shared social concerns;
  • For representing the views of different groups to each other;
  • For seeking change in the behavior of the other in some respect;
  • For making use of faith groups’ resources and connections in delivering social welfare objectives; and
  • For consultation and engagement of particular faith groups within governance and decision-making process.

Always be Mindful of the Challenges!

Gerhard Hoffstaedter (2012) after studying the interfaith dialogue system of Malaysia identified a number of challenges which the members should be mindful of before organizing a dialogue.[30] These challenges are:

  • Hoffstaedter identified that quite often the members of interfaith forum do not have respect for each other. Members belonging to majority group of the population look down upon the members representing the minority groups. He has also identified that members may also look down upon each other for various reasons considering different kinds personal primordial attributes, e.g., cast, religion, wealth, birth place, culture, social status, service status etc.Hence, he suggested that all the members of a dialogue should treat each other equally with respect. We also suggest that all members should treat each other with respect and treat them equal to each other irrespective of their cast, religion, wealth, birth place, culture, social status, service status etc.[31]
  • He further identified that the members of a dialogue should not get involved in the dialogue with a notion that a particular religion is the best religion among all the According to him, this kind of notions could destroy the dialogue process even before it is started.[32]
  • Sivian Kit, one of the founding members of Friends in Conversation (Malaysia), identified that the socio-political conditions generated by the concrete actions of politicians directly or indirectly, through the government institutions, agencies and media networks are the biggest impediments to inter-religious dialogue.[33] Kit suggested thatthe actors of inter-faith dialogue should be mindful of unnecessary political intervention and should avoid such intervention in every way possible.[34]


At this stage, the participants will stage a mock dialogue on the fact depicted in Reflection Nos. 1 and 2. They will stage this dialogue through role playing. They will decide which role they will play. At the beginning, the participants will decide the following matters between themselves:

1.       Who will participate in the dialogue?

2.       Who are missing?

3.       What are the issues to address in the dialogue?

4.       What kind of language they will use?

5.       What would be the guideline for the dialogue?

6.       What kind of techniques they will use for effective completion of the dialogue?

7.       What are the challenges they will face and how they will address them?

After deciding on these matters, the participants will make a group presentation on these issues. The participants will get 20 minutes to engage in the mock dialogue. At the end, the instructor will evaluate their performance and give them tips.


Peace Insight considers ‘mediation’as another tool used to help resolve conflict and stop violence from escalating – involving bringing opposing individuals or groups together to find a solution.[35] Mediation, often conducted by a third party, can play a crucial role in deescalating conflict and in healing wounds after division.[36]In mediation, a mediator's primary role is to act as a neutral third party who facilitates discussions between the individuals or groups in dispute and community-based reconciliation approaches often include elements of mediation.[37]

Mediation in Bangladesh:

Mediation is an established method of alternative dispute resolution in Bangladesh since 1978, when it was introduced by Madaripur Legal Aid Association (MLAA).[38] After its introduction it became popular rapidly as it is an informal and cost-effective method which can be organized out of court in the locality.[39] Other NGOs active in the sector are Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST), Ain-o-Salish Kendra (ASK), NagorikUddayog (NU).[40]

Mediation in the Existing Laws of Bangladesh:

In Bangladesh, the following Acts of Parliament have provisions of mediation:[41]

Serial No.

Relevant Legislation

Relevant Sections

Key Actors


The Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Act, 1908

Section 89A, 89B,89C

The court itself or a

third party mediator


Artha Rin Adalat Ain,2003

Section 22,23,24,25


The Family Courts Ordinance, 1985

Section10(3), 10(4) & 13

The court itself


Village Court Act, 2006

Section 6(kha)

Local Government


and representative of each party


Code of  Criminal Procedure, 1898

Section 345

Offences mentioned in the chart.


Arbitration Act, 2001

Section 22



Legal Aid (Amendment) Act, 2015


Legal Aid Office and the Court itself.


Two private bodies Bangladesh International Arbitration Centre (BIAC) and Bangladesh International Mediation Society (BDIMS) provide professional mediation services.[42] BIAC has its own rules and code of conducts.[43]

However, till date mediation is not used for inter-faith dialogue in spite of having a plenty of opportunity of becoming successful in curbing inter-religious tension.

Best Practices of a Mediator:

The American Bar Association (ABA), Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) and the American Arbitration Association (AAA) have identified a number of practices which a mediator should possess while conducting inter-faith mediation.[44]

Best Practices of a Mediator[45]

I. Self-Determination: A Mediator Shall Recognize that Mediation is Based on the Principle of Self-Determination by the Parties.

II. Impartiality: A Mediator Shall Conduct the Mediation in an Impartial Manner.

III. Conflicts of Interest: A Mediator Shall Disclose all Actual and Potential Conflicts of Interest Reasonably Known to the Mediator.

IV. Competence: A Mediator Shall Mediate Only When the Mediator has the Necessary Qualifications to Satisfy the Reasonable Expectations of the Parties.

V. Confidentiality: A Mediator Shall Maintain the Reasonable Expectations of the Parties with Regard to Confidentiality.

VI. Quality of the Process: A Mediator Shall Conduct the Mediation Fairly, Diligently, and in a Manner Consistent with the Principle of Self-Determination by the Parties.

VII. Advertising and Solicitation:A Mediator Shall be Truthful in Advertising and Solicitation for Mediation

VIII. Fees: A Mediator Shall Fully Disclose and Explain the Basis of Compensation, Fees, and Charges to the Parties.

IX. Obligations to the Mediation Process: Mediators have a Duty to Improve the Practice of Mediation.

Kinds of Mediation:

Katherine Shonk (2020) identified that there are six kinds of mediation, i.e., facilitative mediation, court-mandated mediation, evaluative mediation, transformative mediation, med-arb, and e-mediation, which can be used for dispute resolution and peace-building.[46]The community can decide which format they will use for their purpose.

Reflection: Which one is better for you?

Read the following paragraphs from Shonk:[47]

Facilitative Mediation:In facilitative mediation or traditional mediation, a professional mediator attempts to facilitate negotiation between the parties in conflict. Rather than making recommendations or imposing a decision, the mediator encourages disputants to reach their own voluntary solution by exploring each other’s deeper interests. In facilitative mediation, mediators tend to keep their own views regarding the conflict hidden.


Court-Mandated Mediation:Although mediation is typically defined as a completely voluntary process, it can be mandated by a court that is interested in promoting a speedy and cost-efficient settlement. When parties and their attorneys are reluctant to engage in mediation, their odds of settling through court-mandated mediation are low, as they may just be going through the motions. But when parties on both sides see the benefits of engaging in the process, settlement rates are much higher.


Evaluative Mediation:Standing in direct contrast to facilitative mediation is evaluative mediation, a type of mediation in which mediators are more likely to make recommendations and suggestions and to express opinions. Instead of focusing primarily on the underlying interests of the parties involved, evaluative mediators may be more likely to help parties assess the legal merits of their arguments and make fairness determinations. Evaluative mediation is most often used in court-mandated mediation, and evaluative mediators are often attorneys who have legal expertise in the area of the dispute.


Transformative Mediation:In transformative mediation, mediators focus on empowering disputants to resolve their conflict and encouraging them to recognize each other’s needs and interests. First described by Robert A. Baruch Bush and Joseph P. Folger in their 1994 book The Promise of Mediation, transformative mediation is rooted in the tradition of facilitative mediation. At its most ambitious, the process aims to transform the parties and their relationship through the process of acquiring the skills they need to make constructive change.


Med-Arb:In med-arb, a mediation-arbitration hybrid, parties first reach agreement on the terms of the process itself. Unlike in most mediations, they typically agree in writing that the outcome of the process will be binding. Next, they attempt to negotiate a resolution to their dispute with the help of a mediator.

If the mediation ends in an impasse, or if issues remain unresolved, the process isn’t over. At this point, parties can move on to arbitration. The mediator can assume the role of arbitrator (if he or she is qualified to do so) and render a binding decision quickly based on her judgments, either on the case as a whole or on the unresolved issues. Alternatively, an arbitrator can take over the case after consulting with the mediator.


Arb-Med:In arb-med, another among the types of mediation, a trained, neutral third party hears disputants’ evidence and testimony in an arbitration; writes an award but keeps it from the parties; attempts to mediate the parties’ dispute; and unseals and issues her previously determined binding award if the parties fail to reach agreement, writes Richard Fullerton in an article in the Dispute Resolution Journal.

The process removes the concern in med-arb about the misuse of confidential information, but keeps the pressure on parties to reach an agreement, notes Fullerton. Notably, however, the arbitrator/mediator cannot change her previous award based on new insights gained during the mediation.


E-mediation:In e-mediation, a mediator provides mediation services to parties who are located at a distance from one another, or whose conflict is so strong they can’t stand to be in the same room.E-mediation can be a completely automated online dispute resolution system with no interaction from a third party at all. But e-mediation is more likely to resemble traditional facilitative mediation, delivered at a distance.


Group Task:

After reading this paragraph, the participants will discuss in groups that which format is best for inter-faith dispute resolution in Bangladesh. They will make a presentation before the Instructor, who will also participate in the discussion.



Around the end of February, 2020, the ChotoHujur of a Madrasa in Companyganj, Noakhali found that AnindoSaha, a purohit of Companyganj Shiv Mandir has posted an offensive post regarding the BoroHujur of the Madrasa. He calls upon all the students of the Madrasa and ordered them to attack the Shiv Mandir and to bit AnindoSaha and other Hindu purohits. You are a FoRB activist of the locality.


1.       Do you think you can curb the tension through Mediation?

2.       If the answer is ‘yes’, then which format is more suitable and why?

3.       In a pandemic situation, which format will be the best one? Why?

Fact Finding

What is fact-finding?

Fact-Finding refers to an alternative dispute resolution mechanism in which a neutral third party examines documents and interviews witnesses to determine, as best as is reasonably possible, what happened, so parties (and their attorneys, if they are involved) can then determine the appropriate course of action.[48] Fact-Finding merely provides the party or parties an understanding of what at least one neutral observer would conclude had occurred.[49] The Fact-Finder’s job is to weigh the relative credibility of the witnesses and documentary evidence, to reach a conclusion as to what happened.[50] It is then up to the party or parties to decide what, if any, legal consequences arise from those facts. Fact-finding is mostly used as a prelude to mediation. According to Schultz (2003), fact-finding is best suited for resolving historical disputes between two or more faiths or groups of people.[51]

Fact-finding is important because information plays a crucial role in disputes.[52] Available facts in a dispute can itself be controversial and in certain cases, the parties to the dispute may agree to the facts, but may disagree on the interpretation of facts.[53] Sometimes facts play a crucial role in a dispute; sometimes it can play a secondary role when the dispute is essentially over non-factual issues.[54]

Reflection 1: Are Facts Crucial? (Fictitious)

In Nasirnagar, Brahminbaria, a large number of Muslim fanatics attacked the house of a Christian teacher alleging that he has used obscene language against Islam in his Facebook status. The teacher claimed that he never had a Facebook account, the account the fanatics are claiming are not his account.


1.       Do you think fact is important for resolving this dispute?

2.       What kinds of facts are important?

Reflection 2: Pagoda or Church – which will be built?(Fictitious)

In Khagrachori Town, Friends of the God (FoG), a Christian missionary group,has taken a lease of a property from the Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Khagrachori for 49 years. DC did not consult with the Headman of the town before giving the lease. Now-a-days Khagrachori is a Muslim majority town and earlier it was a Buddhist majority town. FoG decided to build a church on the land. While excavating, wreckage of an old establishment similar to a Pagoda was found. Subsequently, 15 to 20 people along with the Headman came to that land and ordered the workers to stop the excavation claiming that it is a 200-year-old Pagoda and FoG cannot continue digging. They also submitted an application to the DC requesting him to cancel the lease.


1.       What will you do to solve this problem?

2.       What kind of role fact will play?

Principles of Fact Finding:

Fact-finding is generally organized by the concerned groups jointly. For example, in both the reflections mentioned above cannot be solved with a fact-finding group comprised of members from one faith group will only; you will need members from all the groups for fact-finding. Schultz in another blog[55] mentioned a number of principles of fact-finding, which are:

  1. Experts, decision makers, and key stakeholders from opposing sides work together.
  2. Information and resources will be shared between all the parties.
  3. The end result is a single text embodying the sum of the joint efforts.

Pros and Cons of Fact-Finding:

Fact finding can be considered as a strategy for resolving factual disputes. Though this way is a positive way, it has some pros and cons[56] also.


  • It provides comparatively easy way to resolve factual disputes.
  • It strengthens the idea of team work.
  • It provides a stage for open communication.
  • It creates a friendly environment. Because when a group of persons trying to achieve a common goal, the whole environment becomes more friendly.
  • It improves the relation between the conflicting parties.
  • It diminishes trust issues between the conflicting parties.
  • It provides a comparatively neutral set of topics that conflicting sides can address.
  • It holds the potential for great benefits in terms of agreeing on facts.


  • It can be concluded as a ‘faulty communication’ because it can go a long way in resolving a factual dispute.
  • It makes key pieces of evidence available.
  • It is not appropriate for every conflict scenario. For instance, if there exists drastic power differentials, extreme mistrust or hatred of the other side, fact finding may be impossible.
  • Though it provides a comparatively neutral set of topics that conflicting sides can address, it has some chances to become a faulty communication if it has not been executed well or if it provides wrong context.

7.6.4 When to use joint-fact finding to settle a dispute:

Co-operation can be considered as a key element of fact finding. It can provide a multi-tiered process for bringing together parties in technical disputes. When any dispute arises, disputants begin by setting a fact- finding agenda and process. Then parties work together to find or select one or more advisers. After doing this, advisers present their analyses and various courses of action to all parties involved. Fact finding can be considered as wrong choice if the other party is more powerful and knowledgeable who are seeking to use it as an advantage to maintain the power imbalance. For instance, if the village council already strongly supported the condominium project, residents might not be benefited from a fact finding process.


At this stage, the participants will stage a mock dialogue on the fact depicted in Reflection Nos. 1 and 2. They will stage this dialogue through role playing. They will decide which role they will play. At the beginning, the participants will decide the following matters between themselves:

1.       Who will participate in the dialogue?

2.       Who are missing?

3.       What are the issues to address in the dialogue?

4.       What kind of language they will use?

5.       What would be the guideline for the dialogue?

6.       What kind of techniques they will use for effective completion of the dialogue?

7.       What are the challenges they will face and how they will address them?

After deciding on these matters, the participants will make a group presentation on these issues. The participants will get 20 minutes to engage in the mock dialogue. At the end, the instructor will evaluate their performance and give them tips.


[1] Introduction to Dialogue between People of Different Faiths and Beliefs. Retrieved from;, Accessed on 24.02.2021.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ecumenical, Interfaith, Interreligious Relations. Retrieved from: Accessed on: 08.02.2021

[4]Public Religion Research Institute. (2014, July 10). The Morning Buzz. Retrieved from: Accessed on: 08.02.2021. Mehta, H. (2014, July 9). Minnesota Interfaith Group Changes Its Name to Become More Inclusive of Atheists. The Friendly Atheist. Retrieved from: Accessed on: 08.02.2021.

[5]Musser, D & Sunderland, D., War or Words: Interreligious Dialogue as an Instrument of Peace Cleveland. (2005). The Pilgrim Press.

[6] Ibid

[7]Mullins, J. (2011). Multi-faith Dialogue: Being Both Friendly and Faithful. Retrieved from: Accessed on: 08.02.2021.

[8] Ibid

[9] Ibid

[10] Ibid

[11]Fabris,A.(2015).Religious and Cultural Tensions and their Overcoming in Contemporary World. Retrieved from: Accessed on: 08.02.2021.

[12] Ibid

[13]Koch,B. (2019). Unmasking ‘Religious’ Conflicts and Religious Radicalisation in the Middle East.E-International Relations.


[15]Building Good Relations with People of Different Faiths and Beliefs (Code). (1993). Retrieved from:, Accessed on 06.03.2021.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Building Good Relations with People of Different Faiths and Beliefs (Code). (1993). Retrieved from:, Accessed on 06.03.2021.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Draft Hindu property succession law prepared. (2021, March 05).The Daily Star. Retrieved from:, Accesed on: 06.03.2021.

[22] The Abrahamic Faiths Peacemaking Initiative (AFPI) is a group of American clergy and religious activists who advocate peacemaking as an essential and defining mandate of three faith traditions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

[23]Guidelines for organizing interfaith meetings. (2018). Retrieved from:, Accessed on 06.03.2021.

[24]Dialogue and Difficult Issues. Retrieved from: Accessed on 06.03.2021.

[25]Orton, A, (2016).Interfaith Dialogue: Seven Key Questions for Theory, Policy and Practice. Religion, State and Society. Retrieved from:, Accessed on 06.03.2021.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid.

[30]Hoffstaedter, G. (2012). Interfaith Dialogue in Malaysia. New Mandala. Retrieved from: Accessed on 24.02.2021.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Kit, S. (2012). Religious Dialogue: Whose Responsibility? Part-I, New Mandala. Retrieved from: Accessed on 05.03.2021.

[34] Ibid.

[35]Dialogue and mediation. Retrieved from: Accessed on 07.03.2021.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Ibid.

[38]Tonima, T. K. Mediation in Bangladesh Makes Justice Accessible. International Mediation Institute. Retrieved from: Accessed on 07.03.2021.

[39] Ibid.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Judicial Portal Bangladesh. Retrieved from: Accessed on 07.03.2021.

[42]Tonima, Ibid.

[43]Bangladesh International Arbitration Centre. Retrieved from: Accessed on 07.03.2021.

[44]Model Standards of Conductfor Mediators. (2005). Retrieved from:, Accessed on 07.03.2021.

[45] Ibid.

[46]Shonk, K. (2020). Types of Mediation: Choose the Type Best Suited to Your Conflict. Daily Blog, Harvard Law School. Retrieved from:, Accessed on 07.03.2021.

[47] Ibid.

[48] What is Fact-Finding? Retrieved from:, Accessed on 07.03.2021.

[49] Ibid.

[50] Ibid.

[51] Schultz, N. (2003). Fact Finding. Retrieved from: Accessed on 07.03.2021.

[52] Ibid.



[55] Schultz N. (2003). Joint Fact Finding. Retrieved from: Accessed on 08.03.2021.

[56] Ibid