Former State President of South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize winner, FW de Klerk, gave a rousing speech on mediation at the Desmond Tutu third International Peace Summit, held at Regent's, where he said that "the success of all our communities is dependent on our willingness to accommodate one another's reasonable concerns and interests".
The peaceful resolution of South Africa’s long-standing racial imbroglio 24 years ago seemed to show that even the most intractable disputes could be solved peacefully by compromise and negotiation. Our experience gave new hope to the world that it might be possible to mediate the impossible and that other long-standing disputes might also be resolved through peaceful negotiations.
Since then the world has, by and large, been disappointed by the failure to replicate the success that we South Africans achieved:
- a negotiated solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict appears to be further away than ever;
- Russia continues to pursue its national goals while showing little interest in negotiating workable solutions to the situations in the Ukraine and the Crimea;
- in the absence of meaningful negotiations between its complex ethnic, religious and political factions, Syria continues to tear itself apart.
What then were the factors that enabled South Africa to achieve success and that continue to elude the search for peace in other parts of the world today?