n African Journal on Conflict Resolution - The mediator's moral dilemma : an essay in memory of H.W. van der Merwe

Volume 13, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1562-6997


'Today, with a democratic government in place, it is hard to remember how unpopular concepts such as negotiation and conflict resolution were even a decade ago.' H.W. van der Merwe, who wrote this in 2000 (110), was referring to the situation during the 1970s and 1980s in South Africa. The then South African government and the liberation movements both shared a common distrust of 'mediators' or peacemakers. The government had banned the liberation movements. Establishing contact or facilitating dialogue with these movements was not only illegal, it was treason. The liberation movements similarly rejected peacemaking. The reigning slogan was 'justice before peace'; and the dominant strategy non-collaboration and armed struggle. Would-be peacemakers, in their opinion, diluted their resolve to achieve victory.

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