Standards on Cultural Mediation in Protection



Mixed migration movements bring people from different regions, who speak different languages, usually languages of lesser diffusion, and who belong to different cultures and might have different needs – they can be refugees or belong to a group of international migrants. The first step in assisting them is providing them with tools for expressing their thoughts, needs, fears, concerns, feelings, etc. and making all of them understandable to the host community.

In order to achieve this, it is necessary to establish understanding between individuals who belong to two or more distinctive groups and comprehend cultural differences and similarities, to relieve prejudices and biases and also to sensitize them when addressing people of different cultural and social backgrounds. This is something that cultural mediation strives to achieve by providing information about cultures, cultural orientation, facilitating communication and promoting mutual understanding. And for achieving this goal it is also necessary for cultural mediators to review their own perceptions to diversity of cultures too, as “cultural beliefs are not homogenous and permanent, but are always being renewed and reshaped by conflict, displacement, education, media and deliberate efforts to influence values through revisions of laws or government policies” (Emergency Preparedness and Response Section (EPRS) 187).

In humanitarian context, cultural mediation can have an important role in the protection of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants (later in the text beneficiaries), especially because mixed migration movement exposes beneficiaries to different protection concerns.

A model of protection through cultural mediation has been developed by Crisis Response and Policy Centre (later in the text CRPC) and described in the Handbook of Protection through Cultural Mediation. The application of this model has been observed in the fieldwork in the context of Serbia as one of the Western Balkan migration route countries, but it can be applied to other contexts as well, for example to addressing the issues of marginalized ethnic groups or migrants and refugees whose inclusion and integration were not successful despite having lived in a certain society for a long time (Vještica and Sjekloća 5).

The increased demand for cultural mediators (later in the text CMs) has raised the necessity for developing standards for cultural mediation in this context. These standards define protection through cultural mediation and the role of CMs as protection actors, principles and goals applicable to CMs as protection actors, tools and techniques and standards of cultural mediation in different settings.

Standards for cultural mediation in protection are intended for CMs and persons who want to become CMs, for organizations, agencies or institutions that are engaging CMs and interpreters/translators, as well as service providers and all humanitarian practitioners in general, that need to communicate with the assistance of CMs.