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1. Introduction

As a result of the valuable resources and high level of human activity that characterize coastal areas, there are inevitably competing and conflicting claims over the allocation and use of such resources. The different priorities of different institutions in a sectoral or poorly integrated coastal area management system also tend to produce institutional conflicts. One of the fundamental goals of integrated coastal area management (ICAM) is `anticipating, avoiding or resolving conflicts that dissipate the value of coastal resources and environments', and `typically [ICAM] is concerned with resolving conflicts among many coastal uses and determining the most appropriate use of coastal resources', (Sorensen and McCreary, 1990).

The resolution of conflict is one of the central concerns of any legal system and courts may have an important part to play in resolving disputes in coastal areas. Appropriate legislation will be indispensable to the creation of institutional arrangements and the establishment of procedures that reduce the potential for conflict and facilitate the resolution of conflicts when they do arise.

However, traditional `top-down' legislative processes and litigation through the courts have often proved to be ineffective methods of regulating competing interests and addressing conflicts concerning natural resources and the environment. Dissatisfaction with conventional litigation and rule-making processes has led to a growing trend in favour of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) techniques in the context of natural resource and environmental management. These techniques include arbitration, mediation and direct negotiation, and alternative means of regulating to avoid or manage conflict, such as negotiated rule-making. Since these techniques aim to engage the disputants actively in seeking a result acceptable to all the parties involved, they are likely to be more effective in the ICAM context.

This part of the guidelines is intended to give those involved in coastal management an overview of various alternative dispute resolution mechanisms and to identify the circumstances in which such approaches can be usefully adopted. Section 2 sets out a conceptual framework for discussing conflict resolution. This is followed by a discussion on an international trend towards collaborative (as opposed to adversarial) methods of resolving conflicts in Section 3. Section 4 describes and compares various ADR techniques, and Section 5 deals with the processes involved and the issues that are typically encountered. Finally, Section 6 deals with legal and institutional mechanisms for promoting conflict resolution in the context of ICAM.

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