On Wednesday, 23 May 2007, the Founder and Executive Director of ACCORD, Mr. Vasu Gounden, welcomed Mr. Steven Uhlfelder, the Chairman of the Fulbright Foreign Scholarships Board (FSB), to ACCORD House. Accompanying Mr. Uhlfelder was the United States Consul General in Durban, Mr. Eugene Young and Ms Lucy Hoffman, the Coordinator of Fulbright Programmes at the United States Embassy in Pretoria.
L - R Mr. Eugene Young; Mr. Vasu Gounden; Ms Lucy Hoffman; and Mr. Steven Uhlfelder
Mr. Uhlfelder was appointed as the Chairman of the FSB in 2001 by President George W. Bush. All the members of this prestigious board are presidential appointments and supervise the policies and programs of the William J. Fulbright Programme, the Hubert Humphrey Fellowships and the South African Summer Education Training Institute (SETI). More than 1000 South Africans have participated in these programs over the past fifty years.
Mr. Uhlfelder was in South Africa to observe the Fulbright Programme and its impact on United States-South Africa mutual understanding and educational linkages.
Mr. Uhlfelder's visit to ACCORD was symbolic as the Fulbright Programme played a major role in the establishment of ACCORD. In 1989 Mr. Gounden was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship for academic excellence and leadership, which lead to him spending two years in the United States reading a Master of Law Degree at Georgetown University. It was during this time that Mr. Gounden was first introduced to dispute resolution and the idea of ACCORD was born. ACCORD was then founded by Mr. Gounden in 1992.
Today, fifteen years later, ACCORD is an internationally recognized conflict management institution, which:
- has been recognized by the United Nations as a model for peace in Africa;
- is the first African NGO to address the United Nations Security Council;
- published the first African Journal on Conflict Resolution;
- created the Africa Peace Award in 1993;
- has trained over 14,000 people in conflict management skills;
- has seen its Africa Peace Centre become a NEPAD-approved project;
- has its Africa Peace Centre as a lead project for the City of Durban, the home of the future Peace Centre;
- has facilitated the development of NEPAD's Peace and Security Programme in developing a policy framework for post conflict reconstruction;
- received the Tombouctou Award in 2006 for its work in gender mainstreaming on the continent;
- has contributed successfully to the peace processes of several African conflicts, including the DRC and Burundi; and
- has internationally recognized and respected programmes and publications.
In recognition of the Fulbright Programme's contribution to the establishment of ACCORD, during the visit Mr. Gounden presented Mr. Uhlfelder with a certificate making him an ACCORD 'Ambassador of Peace', in support of peace and development in Africa.
L - R Mr. Steven Uhlfelder and Mr. Vasu Gounden
Vasu Gounden has extensive international training experience and has conducted trainings for, among others, the South African Department of Foreign Affairs; the former Organization of African Unity (OAU); the United Nations (UN), the Folke Bernadotte Academy; and, the United Nations University's International Leadership Institute. He was a consultant to the Commonwealth Gender and Youth Division where he trained Parliamentarians, women and youth groups from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. He has also been involved in mediation work both in South Africa and on the continent, including Somalia, working with former President Nelson Mandela in facilitating the role of civil society in the peace process in Burundi and serving as an advisor on strategy to former President Masire on the InterCongolese Dialogue Peace Process. Mr. Gounden also worked with preparing rebel groups for the negotiation process in Burundi, facilitated by the South African Government. In 2000 he was elected by the World Economic Forum as one of their Global Leaders for Tomorrow (GLT).