Almost from its inception, the FW de Klerk Foundation sought to promote reconciliation and understanding by organising dialogues between government and civil society organisations. It hosted four such dialogues with delegations led by President Thabo Mbeki and the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation between October 2002 and August 2005.

“In our quest for peace, we should constantly ask ourselves what we should do to create conditions in which peace can prosper.” FW de Klerk


The 1993 Constitution made the following provision for National Unity and Reconciliation:

“This Constitution provides a historic bridge between the past of a deeply divided society characterised by strife, conflict, untold suffering and injustice, and a future founded on the recognition of human rights, democracy and peaceful co-existence and development of opportunities for all South Africans, irrespective of colour, race, class, belief or sex.

The pursuit of national unity, the well-being of all South African citizens and peace require reconciliation between the people of South Africa and the reconstruction of society. The adoption of this Constitution lays the secure foundation for the people of South Africa to transcend the divisions and strife of the past, which generated gross violations of human rights, the transgression of humanitarian principles in violent conflicts and a legacy of hatred, fear, guilt and revenge.

These can now be addressed on the basis that there is a need for understanding but not for vengeance, a need for reparation but not for retaliation, a need for ubuntu but not for victimisation.”


In 1996, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established “to promote national unity and reconciliation in a spirit of understanding which transcends the conflicts and divisions of the past by establishing as complete a picture as possible of the causes, nature and extent of the gross violations of human rights which were committed during the period from 1 March 1960 and December 1993, including the antecedents, circumstances, factors and context of such violations, as well · as the perspectives of the victims and the motives and perspectives of the persons responsible for the commission of the violations, by conducting investigations and holding hearings.”

FW de Klerk’s tumultuous relationship with the TRC is set out here.


FW de Klerk’s views on reconciliation and forgiveness were set out in a speech that he delivered at Coventry Cathedral in the United Kingdom on 2 September 1997.

FW de Klerk’s last public statement shortly before his death included, once again, an impassioned apology for apartheid.