During our Friday Happy Hour this last week the topic of neutrality arose and sparked a fantastic discussion on the qualifications of the neutral professionals on our Collaborative matters and in our local practice groups. How important is it to ensure neutrals are properly trained in neutrality?
Merriam-Webster defines neutrality as not engaged on either side, not aligned with an ideological grouping, not decided or pronounced as to characteristics, indifferent. It is neither acid nor base. It is not electrically charged.
Britannica defines neutrality in the following way. As you read this definition think of the role of the neutrals in the Collaborative Process.
Neutrality, the legal status arising from the abstention of a state from all participation in a war between other states, the maintenance of an attitude of impartiality toward the belligerents, and the recognition by the belligerents of this abstention and impartiality. Under international law, this legal status gives rise to certain rights and duties between the neutral state and the belligerents.
The most important of the rights that result from a state of neutrality is the right of territorial integrity. Belligerents may not use a neutral’s territory as a base of operations or engage in hostilities therein.
A neutral also has the right to maintain diplomatic communications with other neutral states and with the belligerents.
So, let’s look at Britannica’s approach.
As neutrals we abstain from all participation in the war between other states. Our participation is in making peace. We work every day to maintain an attitude of impartiality towards the belligerents and toward their interests and concerns. It is critical that we earn the recognition of that neutrality by the belligerents.
We, the neutrals, have a right to territorial integrity. Oftentimes we must manage the clients to not allow them to use us against their spouse’s interests or in favor of their interest.
And the key to our role is the expectation that we will not only maintain communications with the belligerents, but that we communicate and work as a team with the other neutrals.