Owning the process: Public participation in peacemaking
Publication date: 
2002
Accord issue: 
13
Author: 

Whilst South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy was not as peaceful as is often thought, the National Peace Accord (NPA) was critical in reducing the violence and providing a safety net for the negotiation process. The article describes the role of church leaders and a business community organisation, the Consultative Business Group, in supporting the NPA. 

The exposure of tens of thousands of people to conflict resolution methodologies made a difference in the way many chose to respond to conflict.

Chris Spies

The NPA created national, regional and local structures that drew on volunteers to monitor the behaviour of its signatories and address issues of justice and local conflict mediation.

Despite its limitations – dealing with the symptoms of violence rather than its causes and lacking legal force – the NPA helped contain violence, altered the attitude of the security forces and introduced an element of public accountability and pressure for peace.