Difference Between Conciliation and Mediation

Conciliation vs Mediation

Many different methods are adopted for resolution of conflicts and disputes in modern societies. While physical combat was the only way to decide on the winner in a dispute before the advent of civilization, the introduction of law courts and judiciaries have led to development of many methods of resolution of conflicts amicably to arrive at a decision or solution that is acceptable to the parties at loggerheads whether they are individuals, families, companies, organizations, or even governments. Conciliation and mediation are two dispute resolution methods that are very similar confusing people. This article attempts to highlight the differences between these two mechanisms to enable readers to go for the more appropriate one when required.


Conciliation is a dispute resolution mechanism that classifies as an alternative dispute resolution method (ADR). As the name implies, the parties in dispute are encouraged to arrive at an amicable solution acceptable to both of them with the help of an official called conciliator. Today it has dawned upon all that to take a dispute into law courts is to incur a lot of expenditure in terms of fees of the courts as well as attorneys. Also, contesting a dispute in a law court involves a lot of time. This is where conciliation that involves improving communication to lower tensions among the parties at a dispute in a bid to negotiate a settlement out of court comes in handy.

One thing to keep in mind is that conciliation as an ADR has no legal standing and the conciliator awards no decisions in favor of one or the other party. The conciliator, however, is an expert in guiding the warring parties towards a settlement.


Mediation is another alternate dispute resolution mechanism that is commonly adopted by parties involved in a conflict. Mediation is a process that involves employing the services of a neutral third party to help parties at dispute to arrive at an amicable and acceptable solution to all of them. Mediation can be facilitative or evaluative, but it is in no case a mechanism where the mediator can give a decision on his own accord.

A mediator tries to facilitate dialogue between parties in a dispute in such a manner that they arrive at an amicable solution to the dispute themselves. The mediator tries to make parties have a clearer look at their own interests and needs so as to make them realize the futility of taking the dispute to a law court. Though the mediator does not impose his will, he makes use of negotiation and communication techniques to help warring factions to arrive at a peaceful resolution of their dispute.

What is the difference between Conciliation and Mediation?

• On the looks of it, there seem to be no major differences between conciliation and mediation. However, as the names imply, conciliation is a much more formal mechanism of dispute resolution than mediation.

• Though, just as in mediation, the opinion of the conciliator makes no difference in the process of conciliation and the warring parties, there seems to be unanimity among the people that a conciliator has more powers than a mediator who is at best, a mediator between warring parties.

• A conciliator also happens to be an expert in the field in which he tries to adjudicate the matters. On the other hand, a mediator is an expert in the techniques of communication and negotiation as he tries to make the parties arrive at an amicable solution.

• A conciliator seeks concessions from the parties at dispute whereas a mediator tries to make the parties see their own interests and needs in a better light.