Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement

About us

The Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement (ACDS) works primarily within three thematic areas: social need, the Centre’s network and experience, and a business nexus to pressing social challenges and their solutions in Africa.​

Areas of focus

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Business, conflict and development

Unlocking local development

Support for emerging scholars and practitioners

Commissioned research

Capacity building

Convening of stakeholders

What we do

As an interdisciplinary academic centre and platform for collaboration across the Western Cape’s public universities, ACDS exists as:

  • A forum for the exchange of ideas – ACDS convenes scholars and practitioners to promote cross-fertilisation and increase the relevance of scholarship to practice.
  • A focal point for action research – ACDS draws on its scholar and practitioner networks to design and conduct research for monitoring and evaluation, comparative learning and actionable insight.
  • A catalyst for the professionalisation of dispute resolution practice – ACDS acts as Secretariat for the Dispute Settlement Accreditation Council of South Africa (DiSAC). Information about DiSAC, its members, and training and accreditation standards for mediators and arbitrators is available at
  • A partner in capacity building – ACDS draws on its scholar and practitioner networks to ensure that context-appropriate training in dialogue, negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and related dispute resolution practices is available from the community to the international levels. Courses can be academically certified as appropriate.
  • A clearinghouse for teaching materials – ACDS develops innovative teaching tools, and makes curricula, case studies, simulations and other materials for the teaching of dispute resolution publically available.

The Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement operates under the patronage of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. The Centre is headed by Prof Brian Ganson​ who holds a Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School. Prof Ganson is an associate professor extraordinaire at USB.

International Mediation Institute Quality Assessment Programme


The Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement (ACDS) is a certified Quality Assessment Programme for the International Mediation Institute (IMI). This means that the ACDS can assess mediators practising in Southern Africa and certify that they meet the IMI requirements to be recognised as IMI Certified Mediators.


Why become an IMI Certified Mediator?

The IMI is a well-recognised independent, impartial, and international standard-setting body for mediation. It is a non-profit charity registered in The Hague, Netherlands, supported practically and financially by corporate users and by a group comprising the main international ADR service providers. The IMI is driving professionalism and international standards for mediation worldwide.

IMI Certification is a sign that a professional has reached international standards for mediation knowledge, skills, and practice, and for this reason, IMI-Certified individuals are highly sought after.

There are currently just over 550 IMI Certified Mediators in 45 countries.

Read more here about IMI Certification:


How do I become an IMI Certified Mediator?

All IMI Certification and Qualification is carried out by approved organisations. These organisations are referred to as “Qualifying Assessment Programs” (QAPs). These QAPs assess experienced mediators to become IMI Certified.

The ACDS is such an approved QAP and is certified by the IMI to assess mediators practising in Southern Africa for becoming IMI Certified Mediators.

The details and requirements of the ACDS’s IMI QAP can be downloaded here:


How does the assessment work?

If you decide to apply for IMI Certification, you can apply to the ACDS. In the application you will be required to:

  1. Provide evidence of the required levels of knowledge and experience of mediation. This includes:
    1. Confirmation that you have conducted at least a minimum of 200 hours and/or 20 mediations in the past two years.
    2. A detailed log of at least four mediations conducted in a two year period preceding the application, which log must provide information regarding the date of the mediation process, duration of the mediation, nature of the dispute and the methodology utilised in engaging with the dispute.
    3. At least three feedback forms completed by parties who participated in three different mediation processes in the two-year period preceding the application.
    4. Proof that you completed a foundation 40-hour mediator training course accredited by DiSAC or NABFAM.
    5. Proof that in the past two years you attended at least 12 hours of relevant continued education offered by the ACDS or a DiSAC / NABFAM accredited service provider, OR that in the past two years you conducted training and or assessment of mediators on a DiSAC / NABFAM accredited training course of at least 40 hours.
  1. Undergo an assessment of your mediation skills. The assessment will be in the format of a 45-minute online roleplay mediation and will be evaluated by two senior assessors appointed by the ACDS.

Applicants who wish to apply for assessment and certification as an IMI Certified Mediator are encouraged to compile the required evidence and submit an application via email. The application form can be downloaded here:



ACDS charges a fee of R5 000 (plus VAT) for the assessment of an application to become an IMI Certified Mediator. The fee is applied towards covering the costs of the assessment process. The fee is once-off, payable in advance, and is non-refundable.

Successful applications will be submitted to the IMI who will then set up a certified profile for the applicant on the IMI website. An annual listing fee of €125 is payable to the IMI to maintain your profile.


Contact details

Application Form

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