dws-colombiaOne of the contributions that we South Africans can make to the international community is to show that even the most bitter, complex and intractable problems can be solved peacefully, through negotiations.

South Africa’s road to peace will not necessarily be the same as the road that Colombia will take. However, I would like to share some of our experiences  – and leave it to you to decide what is, or is not, relevant to the situation in your country.

25 years ago South Africa was caught up in a seemingly unsolvable conflict. Indeed, it was difficult to imagine parties that were further apart than the ruling white National Party, the Zulu-based Inkatha Freedom Party and the African National Congress.

What enabled these parties – and the 20 other parties that joined them in the multi-party negotiations – to bridge the enormous chasms that divided them? I should like to suggest the following. There was common acceptance that: