FWDK Matthew Willman SML

The peaceful resolution of South Africa’s long-standing racial imbroglio 24 years ago seemed to show that even the most intractable disputes could be solved peacefully by compromise and negotiation. Our experience gave new hope to the world that it might be possible to mediate the impossible and that other long-standing disputes might also be resolved through peaceful negotiations.

Since then the world has, by and large, been disappointed by the failure to replicate the success that we South Africans achieved:  

What then were the factors that enabled South Africa to achieve success and that continue to elude the search for peace in other parts of the world today?  

First of all, I would like to deal with the reasons why we did not wish to enter negotiations on a one-man, one-vote process at an earlier stage. They included the following concerns:

These concerns – which we thought were reasonable – received little or no sympathy from the international community.  

Yet despite all this, within a few short years all the major parties had reached agreement on a new non-racial constitution – and 24 years ago on 10 May 1994 –  President Mandela was inaugurated as the first President of South Africa’s new constitutional democracy. 

Speech by former President FW de Klerk
20 April 2018