n African Journal on Conflict Resolution - The spirit of the National Peace Accord : the past and future of conflict resolution in South Africa

Volume 9, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1562-6997


This article seeks to examine the evolution of the conflict resolution community in South Africa through a combination of history and policy analysis. Each section roughly corresponds to the past and future of conflict resolution in the country. The connection between these sections is at times - in the sense that some events directly shaped the next - but more often - meaning that certain trends may be traced throughout the evolution of the community. Consultation with more than ten conflict resolution organisations and interviews with over twenty leading practitioners offer valuable insights to the investigation.

The article begins with an analysis of the rise and fall of the National Peace Accord. The study demonstrates that government endorsement of the Accord did not detract from the ability of the peace committees to furnish the nation with a reservoir of practical conflict resolution skills. Communication, aided in part by the South African Council of Churches, helped avert violence and steer the country clear of civil war. Peace work was more successful when national, regional, and local levels were coordinated. At the same time, the Accord's attempt to resolve greater structural inequalities in its peacebuilding initiatives fell short of its goals. The business community enjoyed managing the process, but offered little in terms of actual resources and training as it high-tailed it 'back to the balance sheets'.

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