ADR Dictionary

ADR Dictionary

ADR – Alternative Dispute Resolution – is a term used to describe a wide range of procedures and approaches other than litigation that aim to identify resolutions to conflicts that will be mutually accepted by the parties.

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) has evolved and been adapted to address conflicts in political and international affairs, civil and human rights, corporate and commercial interests, and community and family issues. In these areas, it is used in the processes of arbitration, conciliation, mediation, mini-trials, negotiation, peer review[1].

ADR includes many methods and institutions that can be used both in private, but also in public disputes. Below you can find a list of the most important vocabulary and definitions that will help you understand the ADR World.


The submission of a dispute to an unbiased third person designated by the parties to the conflict, who agree in advance to comply with the award—a binding decision to be issued after a hearing at which both parties have an opportunity to be heard[2].


1. (political science) The voluntary referral of a conflict to a neutral external party that either suggests a non-binding settlement or conducts explorations to facilitate more structured techniques of conflict resolution. Conciliation can also contribute to maintaining agreements and preventing future conflicts over other issues[3].

2. (international law) Amethodby which the differences between nations may be settled by means of a commission employed to consider and report upon such differences[4].


(political science)  Communication, usually governed by pre-established procedures, between representatives of parties involved in a conflict or dispute. As a technique in the management and resolution of conflict, negotiation is conducted on various grounds: to identify common interests and develop cooperation, to de-escalate a conflict situation, or to formulate mutually satisfactory solutions. The voluntary nature of negotiation grants the parties direct control over the process and outcome. The process involves numerous skills and tactics, including bargaining, compromise, and concessions[5].


A process of negotiations supported by an additional – third – party, typically neutral and impartial to the parties and the matter in dispute.


A discussion between two or more people or groups, especially one directed towards exploration of a particular subject or resolution of a problem[6].


A disagreement or argument[7]. (legal) a conflict of claims or rights; an assertion of rights, claim, a demand; the subject of litigation[8].


1. (political science) From the Latin for ‘to clash or engage in a fight’, a confrontation between one or more parties aspiring towards incompatible or competitive means or ends. Conflict may be:

  • manifest, recognisable through actions or behaviours,
  • latent, in which case incompatibilities are unarticulated or are built into systems or such institutional arrangements as governments, corporations, or even civil society[9].

2. (psychology) the arousal of two or more strong motives that cannot be solved together that can lead do distress, anxiety or relief.


A variety of approaches aimed at resolving conflicts through the constructive solving of problems distinct from the management or transformation of conflict. Conflict resolution refers to a process, a result as well as an activity in which persons and communities engage every day without ever using the term. The antagonisms in question may involve interpersonal relationships, labour-management issues, business decisions, intergroup disputes, disagreements between nation-states, or international quarrels.

Conflict resolution involves recognition by the clashing parties of one another’s interests, needs, perspectives, and continued existence. Conflict resolution can also be practiced with cooperation, non-confrontation, non-competition, and positive-sum orientation[10].


(political science) Changes in all, any, or some combination of the following matters regarding a conflict, such as: the general context of the situation, the parties, the issues at stake, the processes or procedures of conflict resolution, the structures. Conflict transformation aims to generate opportunities for conflict resolution and ultimately more equitable outcomes, particularly where a conflict has encountered an impasse[11].

[4] ; For more information consult:
[9] For further reading, see Peter Wallensteen, Understanding Conflict Resolution: War, Peace and the Global System (London, Sage Publications, 2002).
[10] For further reading, see Peter Wallensteen, Understanding Conflict Resolution: War, Peace and the Global System (London, Sage Publications, 2002).