Alternative dispute resolutions offer alternatives to litigation in situations that would otherwise result in a lawsuit. The main types of alternative dispute resolutions are negotiation, mediation, conciliation, and arbitration.
In principled negotiation, also called Getting to Yes, disputing parties meet together with a neutral third party to identify concerns, explore options, and find a solution that they can both agree on. While it is the simplest form of ADR, this non-adversarial approach has been widely adopted worldwide in matters ranging from interpersonal conflicts to political and government disagreements.
Mediation is another form of ADR that involves a neutral third party helping disputing sides come to an agreement on their own. The mediator acts as an impartial guide, using shuttle diplomacy and keeping their own views hidden while allowing the parties to discuss issues in private sessions. A skilled mediator may be able to use both facilitative and evaluative techniques as appropriate.
Arbitration is the other primary form of ADR, in which a neutral third party serves as a judge and makes binding decisions on all aspects of a case. The decisions can be appealed, just as the decisions made in a court of law can be appealed. Some disputes are so complex that they cannot be resolved through any other means, and in these cases, arbitration is often the best choice.
The Department of the Air Force offers a website that provides resources and information about ADR processes, including mediation and arbitration. The site is intended to serve as a comprehensive resource for people who need ADR help and want more information about how to get started with the process.