Looking Back, Reaching Forward: Reflections on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa

alt Villa-Vicencio, Charles and Verwoerd, Wilhelm
Published by: University of Cape Town Press, Cape Town Zed Books Ltd, London, 2000
ISBN: 10: 1856498190 13: 978-1856498197

Reviewed by Jaap Durand
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 2 No. 1, 2001

Referring to the Zimbabwean crisis caused by the occupation of farms by war veterans of the struggle for freedom from colonial domination in the old Rhodesia, a political commentator in an Afrikaans newspaper observes that it would not have happened if Zimbabwe, instead of giving amnesty to violators of human rights in the old Rhodesia, had set up a truth commission similar to the one in South Africa. This is a remarkable acknowledgement in a newspaper that consistently had shown itself as a severe critic of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). This indicates that the debate on the TRC is not yet over and that, as the time goes on, new perspectives on the work of the TRC will open up. In this respect, the collection of essays on the TRC in Looking Back, Reaching Forward can play an important role, because here we have the remarkable story and a debate triggered by it from the inside – in the words of the editors: an “internal critique”.

Kofi Annan: A Man of Peace in a World of War

alt Meisler, Stanley
Published by: John Wiley & Son, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey, 2007
ISBN: 9780471787440

Reviewed by: Theo Neethling, Department of Political Science, Faculty of Military Science (Military Academy), Stellenbosch University
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 8 No. 3, 2008

In Kofi Annan, A Man of Peace in a World of War, Stanley Meisler presents a biography of Kofi Annan as a man who rose from schoolboy in Ghana to world statesman and Nobel prize winner, and of the joys and despair that marked his decade as leader of the United Nations (UN). The book is not an authorised biography and Annan did not read the manuscript before publication, but he was aware of the biographer’s intentions and co-operated with the project. He also encouraged his staff and friends to meet with Meisler.

Invisible Stakeholders: Children and War in Africa

alt McIntyre, Angela (ed.)
Published by: Pretoria: Institute for Security Studies, 2004

Reviewed by: Annie Derges, Senior Documentalist, SAPES Books
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 6 No. 1, 2006

When you hear the words ‘child soldier’, do you conjure up (as I admit to having done) the image of the child-abductee holding an AK-47 and dressed in cast-off scraps of uniform? Or the tramp of small feet of the children of Northern Uganda, portrayed in a recent documentary film, who make their way each night from the villages to the safety of towns? Or, as you approach a road junction in your car, in almost any city of Africa, and that child approaches, hand outstretched, do you think: if war broke out, that child would be better off as a soldier.

Human Cargo: Journeys Among Refugees

alt Author: Caroline Moorehead
Published by: Chatto & Windus
ISBN: 10: 0099492873 13: 978-0099492870

Reviewed by: Melita Sunjic
In Conflict Trends Issue 3 of 2005

Caroline Moorehead has been a journalist covering human rights issues for more than twenty years. In this capacity, she heard hundreds of refugee stories from all over the globe, some tragic, some with a happy ending, but all of them charged with emotions and human suffering.

Moorehead captures the essence of her book in these words: “a record of what happens to people when their lives spiral out of control into horror and loss, of the lengths they will go in order to survive, of the extraordinary resilience of ordinary men, women and children when having to accept the unacceptable, and also an account of how the modern world is dealing with exoduses that far exceed in complexity and distance anything the world has known before.”

Gulliver’s Troubles: Nigeria’s Foreign Policy after the Cold War

alt Adebajo, Adekeye & Mustapha, Abdul Raufu (eds)
Published by: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, Durban, South Africa, 2008
ISBN: 10: 1869141482 13: 978-1869141486

Reviewed by: Reviewed by Garth le Pere, Executive Director of the Institute for Global Dialogue
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 8 No. 2, 2008

This elegant book covers an expansive thematic mosaic. Its sixteen chapters provide incisive analytical coverage, conceptual insights and empirical richness, pointing to the factors and imperatives which have shaped Nigeria’s foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. That it succeeds so admirably is a tribute to the editors and well-chosen authors. Each chapter helps to impose order on this complex mosaic.

Getting In: Mediator’s Entry into the Settlement of African Conflicts

alt Mohammed O. Maundi, I. William Zartman, Gilbert Khadiagala and Kwaku Nuamah
Published by: United States Institute of Peace, 2006
ISBN: 10: 1929223625 13: 978-1929223626

Reviewed by: Venashri Pillay, Senior Researcher at ACCORD
In Conflict Trends Issue 3 of 2007

This clearly-written and well-organised book sheds light on the previously unexplored area of mediation initiation and entry in violent and protracted African conflicts. By addressing the critical entry stage of mediation (including decisions to invite, initiate and accept such intervention), the authors have filled a significant gap in the existing mediation scholarship, which has largely focused on the mediation process and settlement outcomes.

From Warfare To Welfare

alt Edited by Marie Muller and Bas De Gaay Fortman
Published by: Royal Van Gorcum, 2004
ISBN: 10: 902324043X 13: 978-9023240433

Reviewed by: Senzo Ngubane
In Conflict Trends Issue 3 of 2004

Undoubtedly, the question of security in Southern of security in Southern Africa will continue to be one of the main issues for discussion around regional cooperation among member states that belong to the Southern African Development Community (SADC). This is the case for a number of reasons. These include the fact that the sub-region does not seem to have been able to define in clear and concrete terms what approach it ought to take when it comes to its security. Or, where attempts have been made to define that approach, the responsible policy makers and other relevant actors have not been able to take the necessary steps to ensure implementation. This reviewer has argued elsewhere that, among other challenges that exist around the discourse on security in Southern Africa, there seems to be a gap between the academic thinking on the one hand and the policy approaches and decisions on the other. To put the matter differently, there is a plethora of academic thinking about a need for an alternative approach to security in the region. Such a gap is found specifically within the concept which has come to be known as human security.

From Soldiers to Citizens: Demilitarization of Conflict and Society

João Gomes Porto, Chris Alden and Imogen Parsons
Aldershot. Ashgate, 2007, 192 pp.
ISBN 978-0-7546-7210-4

Reviewed by Grace Maina, Acting Manager of the Knowledge Production Department at ACCORD
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 10 No. 1, 2010

The focus of this book falls into the greater discussions of peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction. This book provides an in-depth analysis of the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) process and delves into an even deeper conversation about the concept and practice of Reintegration. The authors use empirical research on the Angolan DDR process to assess the merits and challenges of our understanding of the process of reintegration.