The ACTION Support Centre was represented at the 4th International Africa Peace and Conflict Resolution Conference, organised by the Centre for African Peace and Conflict Resolution (CAPCR) of California State University, Sacramento, USA and the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD). The following statement was issued by the delegates:
The delegates take cognisance of the wide array of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms identified across the world and Africa in particular, and the potential of these mechanisms to bolster access to justice and contribute to building a global culture of peace.
In light of the recent passing of former South African President, Nelson Mandela, the delegates expressed their wish to dedicate this conference to the memory of the late great peacemaker and statesman.
Delegates acknowledge the role played by traditional conflict resolution practices across Africa, and how these practices are largely based on dialogue, mediation and negotiation.
They recognise the need to better understand such traditional practices toward greater conflict resolution across the continent.
They understand that traditional conflict resolution practices are context-specific and may thus require a pragmatic approach when seeking applicability in broader contexts.
The delegates agree that ADR is increasingly being regarded and understood as a common pillar of good governance and social justice.
They commend the fact that Africa has made significant progress in the area of peace and security, but remain cognisant that access to justice is a crucial consideration in sustaining this positive trend.
They thus agree on the need to mainstream ADR based on a wide array of identified positive dimensions associated with the practices of facilitated dialogue, mediation, conciliation and arbitration as well as their hybrid processes.
They affirm that ADR may indeed be more appropriate in most, but not all, cases.
They understand that issues surrounding training, certification and proper regulation are integral to quality assurance which requires greater attention, monitoring, and reflection.
They agree that access to justice for the most vulnerable groups in society is a crucial concern which affects all aspects of society and thus warrants serious attention and urgent action.
The delegates acknowledge that where there is limited access to justice there will most likely be an absence of any durable peace.
They agree that contemporary information technology is bound to play a pivotal role in the advancement of ADR, and as such they recognise the prospects and challenges of online dispute resolution.
They acknowledge that ADR as well as peace studies is a growing field and a constantly evolving process, and that it increasingly drawing attention from a range of actors and stakeholders – with particular regard to the traditional legal community and civil society organisations.
They expressed that a deeper engagement between ADR and peace studies should be further considered and reconciled.
They particularly acknowledged interdisciplinary developments in terms of youth leadership, the environment and electoral disputes vis-‘a-vis ADR.
They acknowledge the important role of woman vis-‘a-vis ADR.
They recognized the importance of the role that the youth will play in the future, so that by the time they are our age they will already be imbued with ADR lessons and best practices.
I. They commit themselves to the further rigorous study of traditional African conflict resolution mechanisms as well as their effectiveness and applicability to broader contexts.
II. They recommend a greater consideration of the link between traditional conflict resolution mechanisms and the theory and practice of alternative dispute resolution.
III. They wish to advance a broader understudying, acceptance and establishment of ADR amongst a greater cross-section of society through further study and advocacy.
Expression of Gratitude to:
– Conference organisers;
– Participating organisations