Making Choices for Peace: Aid Agencies in Field Diplomacy

alt Opongo, Elias
Published by: Kenya: Pauline Publications Africa, 2006
ISBN: 9966-21-145-3

Reviewed by: Raymond Aina, MSP PhD Candidate, Faculty of Theology, Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven, Belgium
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 7 No. 1, 2007

Peace is a journey, starting from the interior of the persons involved, but aimed towards a re-creation of the community for the sake of justice and wellbeing after disasters. So, in (proactive) intervention during a humanitarian crisis, ‘aid delivery’ is not enough. Aid agencies need to embrace comprehensive peace-building. That is the principal thesis of Opongo in his Making Choices for Peace. So, he proposes ‘field diplomacy’, a vital tool in post-conflict peacebuilding, as integral to aid agencies’ activities.

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.

Integrated Peacebuilding: Innovative Approaches to Transforming Conflict

Craig Zelizer 
Westview Press, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-0813345093

Acknowledging that the field of peacebuilding has grown from a small group of scholars, practitioners and organisations on the margins of international affairs to a phenomenon that is now beginning to influence official policy and practice in the halls of Washington DC, Paris, Addis Ababa, Geneva and elsewhere, Craig Zelizer magnificently interweaves a peacebuilding narrative from 15 academics and practitioners researching and working across a myriad of sectors, to highlight innovative approaches to transforming conflicts. This makes the case for integrated peacebuilding. The outcome is a compilation of 10 chapters that link different sectors to peacebuilding.

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.

Guarding the guardians: Civil-military relations and democratic governance in Africa

Houngnikpo, Mathurin C.
Farnham (Surrey, UK) and Burlington (VT, USA), Ashgate 218 pp.
ISBN-13: 9781409404149

 According to the author, the thrust of this book is to explore the question 'whether African militaries can ever accept civilian control' (p. vi). The fact that he phrases the essence of this publication in the form of a question – on the first page of the preface – reveals the probing way in which he approached his crucially important topic. His orientation towards searching for understanding is underlined by the first part of the title, which is based on a Roman satirical poet's ever-relevant question of twenty centuries ago: 'Who will guard the guardians?'