AJCR 1999/1

Foreword

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Starting a Journal is an undertaking which implies a determined and sustained commitment. Accepting such a responsibility presupposes the conviction that there is a definite and ongoing need for the envisaged Journal.

At ACCORD we are convinced that such a need does exist, and that we should add our contribution towards fulfilling it. We are of course aware of the fact that acknowledging this need points in more than one direction.

Firstly, it points to the reality of our human situation. Accepting the need for regular literature on conflict resolution means accepting the unremitting presence of conflict itself. This can be done, however, in a responsibly realistic way, without surrendering to the pessimism of those with an authoritarian mindset. At ACCORD we prefer to regard the prevalence of conflict as an absorbing and challenging reality, which should be approached frankly and constructively.

The second direction in which the need for conflict resolution writings points, is the entire dimension of responding to conflict. This is the fascinating field in which we as an ACCORD team are rendering our services to fellow human beings. We remain committed to work as constructively and effectively as possible in each and every situation where we can be of help.

We realise that this work does not only need creativity in every unique conflict situation. It also calls for open-mindedness in more than one sense. There is, for instance, the inclusive openness of accepting the presence and good work of many other organisations and individuals in the same field. There is also the receptive openness to academic achievements and research findings with regard to conflict and conflict resolution.

It is with such open-mindedness that we are launching this Journal.

  • We are modestly and non-competitively, but nevertheless assertively, adding it to the large and growing family of conflict studies journals. We do trust, however, that our contribution will manage to share something special about insights and skills from South Africa and Africa.
  • At the same time we are affirming our receptivity to scholarly work in the conflict studies field. In addition to all our practical work of training and mediating, we maintain our involvement in presenting and promoting academic courses. The Journal is intended to supplement and enhance this academic project. It will serve as a communication channel for articles of a more academic nature, while our recently launched magazine, Conflict Trends, is meant for the more topical, practical and newsworthy articles.
  • This does not mean, however, that the Journal will be made up of high-flown theoretical study and research material, or of that only. Neither does it mean that the magazine will be of little interest to academics. (As a matter of fact, in one of the articles in this edition of the Journal material from Conflict Trends has already been referred to.) We are therefore open to submissions ranging from those on a purely theoretical wavelength to those in which theory and practice are interrelated in a cross-fertilising way.

The five articles selected for this first issue may serve as good examples of the diversity of topics, approaches and writing styles that can be expected in the wide, inclusive field of conflict studies. (Both genders are not represented this time, but will be next time!) These articles comprise issues and inferences relating to our past, present and future. Time-proven traditions are reviewed. Current efforts to become liberated from a fallacious disaster of the past are discussed. A case study shows how an environmental conflict can arise and be addressed. Recommendations are made about civilian contributions to security matters. And guiding suggestions are given for political conflict resolution in the Africa of the future.

With sincere thanks to the authors who have made their articles available, and to our Advisory Board who have assessed them and recommended improvements (also to the authors, who were willing to incorporate these suggestions), we now pass on the following pages to all who wish to read (some of) them. We trust that our readers will read receptively but critically, and will be able to make meaningful use of some new, or adapted, or endorsed, insights in discussing, planning and performing the valuable work they are doing.

We are of course open to criticism, comments and suggestions from our readers. We sincerely wish to make this Journal as meaningful, useful and user-friendly as possible. We are therefore looking forward to what readers will tell us about their interests and needs with regard to topics, and their preferences with regard to more theoretical and/or more practical writing styles. All kinds of feedback will be most welcome indeed, and will be taken seriously. Wherever we can improve the quality and value of this Journal, we will be most willing to do it.

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