A strategic and integrated approach to South African peace-building: the case of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO)
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This study considers a strategic and integrated approach to South African peace-building, but is limited to the South African Department of International Relations (DIRCO). South Africa‘s democratisation in 1994 was not only seen as a —new dawn for the oppressed in South Africa, but also as an example of a successful negotiated outcome between diverse interests, political agendas and ethnic groups. South Africa‘s successes placed a moral obligation on the country to share its experiences with other countries in conflict. This study considers the South African approach to peace-building, its successes, setbacks and short-falls and the possible role of the country as a future recognised international peace-builder. The first part of the study examines the international environment‘s impact on the peace-builder role of South Africa, particularly the fact that South Africa is not a traditional international powerbroker, such as the countries of the Permanent 5 in the United Nations Security Council. It, therefore, has to develop its reputation as an international peace-builder on the premise that the country will be able to contribute a unique, credible and successful peace-building approach to any peace process. This process of South Africa positioning itself in the global arena is assisted by a change in the international world order, with South Africa being a member of the BRICS formation as well as an important regional power. South Africa‘s unique approach and contribution to peace processes stems from its own successful democratisation process as well as the fact that the current world peace-building approach is not always regarded as successful or credible. In this context, South Africa‘s Ubuntu approach to peace-building is presented as that unique offering. This approach has been applied in Burundi where the focus shifted from narrow interests towards a —people-first approach. The study also examines the evolution of the concepts associated with conflict resolution, peace-making, peace management and post-conflict reconstruction and development. In this regard the researcher developed a conceptual model of the so-called peace-building continuum (referring to peace- and conflict-related processes), including conflict prevention, peace-making, peace-enforcement/peacekeeping and finally, post-conflict reconstruction and development. This conceptual understanding is depicted in a linear manner, which is then aligned with DIRCO‘s peace-building architecture. Although the linear depiction of the peace-building continuum directly opposes the complex nature of typical peace process, it provides a clear definition of the functions, mandates and phases, which is an important aspect of an eventual integrated approach. The challenge in DIRCO‘s peace-building architecture, however, lies in the fragmented nature of its organisational units such as Desks (bilateral and multilateral units), the Centre for Early Warning (CFEW), the Mediation Support Unit (MSU), the National Office for the Coordination of Peace Missions (NOCPM) and the African Renaissance Fund (ARF). All of these units are mandated to play a particular role within a coordinated and integrated peace-building contribution. Since there is limited coordination, alignment and integration of approaches, roles and functions between these different units, however, DIRCO (and by implication, South Africa) instead makes piece-meal contributions without leveraging the strengths from each unit towards a more integrated approach. Furthermore, South Africa does not have the resources of other more endowed countries vying for more important geopolitical roles and positions. A strategic approach to peace-building is, therefore, contained in the manner in which South Africa will prioritise its areas of maximum influence and impact. This in turn will lead to a more positive international reputation. Harnessing its own history and unique approaches towards this goal will ensure that South Africa continues to build on its international reputation as a peace-builder. Although this study only considers South Africa‘s peace-building approach from the DIRCO perspective, it does hint at the full South African peace-building architecture within Government, the private sector and civil society (e.g. think-tanks and academia). It is this area, beyond DIRCO, which provides ample opportunities for further study towards a better understanding and contribution to South Africa‘s peace-building approach.
- Humanities