ACCORD’s commitment to work with like-minded entities to contribute to the advancement of the practice of mediation was further illustrated when it hosted the 9th meeting of the Mediation Support Network (MSN). The MSN is a global network of primarily non-governmental organisations that support mediation in peace negotiations. The meeting took place in Durban, South Africa from 26-28 March 2014.
Recent debates and scholarly work on conflict management have pointed to the reality that conflicts have become more complex, with multiple issues, actors and dynamics. This has called on the need for practitioners to seek to address the root causes of conflicts, including economic and social disparities, and the need for strengthening efforts towards conflict prevention, peace-making, peace support, national reconciliation and post-conflict reconstruction and development. Vital to these efforts, is the promotion of conflict transformation – which is geared towards ensuring meaningful and sustainable peace through the improvement of social, economic and political structures and improved structural stability and security. It is against this backdrop that this meeting was organised with the aim of clarifying how mediation efforts could contribute to conflict transformation in order to support sustainable and constructive peace.
The meeting provided the MSN members with an opportunity to share experiences and exchange knowledge about the link between conflict transformation and mediation. It also provided a podium that enabled the review of some pertinent examples in conflict transformation, such as the case of South Africa, and the development of discussion points that could influence the mooting of effective mediation interventions. Participants at the meeting were also able to discuss philosophical, conceptual and practical dimensions of conflict transformation and mediation; which guided their deliberations on how the approaches so discussed could be integrated into MSN member initiatives.
ACCORD facilitated a stimulating debate on the South African mediation and conflict transformation experience which was presented by Dr Fholisani Sydney Mufamadi, the Director of the School of Leadership at the University of Johannesburg and Mr Vasu Gounden, the Founder and Executive Director of ACCORD. ACCORD will actively participate in future MSN meetings and contribute to the promotion of mediation and dialogue as a constructive tool for conflict resolution.