A brief report on the 2008 International ODR Forum in Victoria, British Columbia as I return home. For those who were not able to attend, many of the presentations can be accessed via http://www.odr.info/victoria and the rest will be put online shortly. This will include the keynote speeches by Dr. Vinton Cerf and by President Jose Ramos Horta of East Timor, a former Nobel Peace Prize winner. The whole program book is also online as are photos of the event.
Dr. Cerf’s recognition of the significance of ODR was most gratifying but equally gratifying was the large attendance and the participation of delegates from over thirty countries. The topics debated ranged from whether we should find a more accurate phrase for our field, one that focuses more on technology than on the use of the word “online,” to discussions about strategies for peacemaking and for facilitating ecommerce in both developed and developing countries. Also receiving attention were new applications and the subjects of education and training, best practices, and particular issues relating to ODR and ombudsmen.
We owe an extraordinary debt of gratitude to Frank Fowlie, who was the ideal host and organizer. Frank not only secured funding to enable fifteen persons from developing countries to attend but also used his professional skills to resolve visa difficulties that many of these persons experienced. It was Frank who deserves credit for securing the participation of Dr. Cerf and Dr. Horta and it is Frank who was responsible for the first forum in North America being one that will have an influence on the future of the field. We have had discussions about the location of the next Forum but if anyone wishes to propose a site, please contact me soon.
By Ethan Kash