Founder & Executive Director
Vasu Gounden is the Founder and Executive Director of the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD). He is a mediator, trainer and researcher in the field of conflict resolution.
Vasu studied at the University of Durban-Westville where he was President of the Students Representative Council (SRC) during the State of Emergency in 1985/6. He obtained a LL.B. degree in South Africa in 1986 and practiced as a human rights and trade union lawyer. In 1989 he took up a Fulbright Scholarship to complete his LLM at Georgetown Law School in Washington D.C. In 1990 he served as a Senior Fellow at the National Institute for Dispute Resolution in Washington D.C. In 2000 Gounden completed the Senior Executive Programme of the Harvard and Wits Business Schools.
He has served on several Government commissions and independent bodies. In 1992 he was appointed as an expert advisor to the South African National Peace Secretariat. In 1994, during the first democratic election in South Africa, he was appointed as Head of Information Analysis by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and to manage the relations among the political parties contesting the election in the Province of Kwa-Zulu Natal. In 1999 during the second democratic elections he was appointed by the IEC as a mediator for the KwaZulu Natal Province.
In 1997 he was appointed to the Future Challenges Commission to assess South Africa's technological needs in the future. He was one of two persons nominated by the South African Government to serve on the "Good Offices of the Secretary General of the Commonwealth" to mediate in international conflicts. In August 1998, Gounden was appointed by the South African Minister of Safety and Security to serve on a five-member Independent Committee to investigate racism in the South African Police Services.
He is an experienced Conflict Resolution Trainer, having been an active trainer in the field since 1990. 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; the United Nations University's International Leadership Institute; and was a consultant to the Commonwealth Gender and Youth Division where he trained Parliamentarians, women and youth groups from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.
Gounden has 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 with former President Masire on the DRC. Gounden also worked with preparing rebel groups for the negotiation process in Burundi, facilitated by the South African Government.
In September 2005 Mr. Gounden was the first member of an African NGO in the history of the United Nations Security Council to address the Council. This was the second out of three presentations that Mr Gounden made at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York within a five month period in 2005. In July 2005 Mr Gounden provided one of the closing addresses for the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) Conference which was held at the UN and in December 2005 he was invited to address the UNSC at its seminar on cooperation between the UN and African regional organisations in the field of peace and security.
Apart from his professional commitments, Gounden also serves on several Boards. In 2001 Gounden was appointed by the Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry to serve on the Board of Umgeni Water. In 2005 Gounden was re-appointed to serve a second term in the capacity of Vice Chairperson of the Board. He also serves on the Boards of the Gandhi Development Trust; and is a member of the International Advisory Board of the International Negotiation Journal and a member of the editorial board of the Peace and Conflict Studies Journal. In 2007 Gounden was appointed onto the International Advisory Board of the Finnish based Crisis Management Initiative. Past Boards on which Gounden has served includes the governing board of the former University of Durban-Westville, on the Council of the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN), which resulted out of the merger between the University of Natal and the University of Durban-Westville; the International Center for Eyecare Education; the Artists for Human Rights; Alliance Française, Durban Chapter; and as a founding Board member on both the International Eco-Peace Village (Cyprus) and the International Forum on Early Warning and Early Response (FEWER).
Mr. Gounden's achievements have led the World Economic Forum to elect him as one of their Global Leaders for Tomorrow (GLT). The GLT network represents the new generation of global decision-makers from business, Government, politics and civil society who have demonstrated responsible leadership vis-à-vis society, environment and socially responsible business.
Gounden has also had audience with several world leaders and was one of eight South Africans invited to attend a two hour closed roundtable conversation with the former President of the United States, Bill Clinton, during President Clinton's State visit to South Africa in March 1998.