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The Long Road to Peace in Northern IrelandPeace Lectures from the Institute of Irish Studies at Liverpool University$
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Marianne Elliott

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9781846310652

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846314155

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Some Reflections on Successful Negotiation in South Africa1

Some Reflections on Successful Negotiation in South Africa1

(p.44) Some Reflections on Successful Negotiation in South Africa1
The Long Road to Peace in Northern Ireland

Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert


This chapter presents an account of how the peace process got under way in South Africa. Trust was not part of the initial formula. Rather adversaries negotiated because they perceived their conflict to be unresolvable by any other means; they arrived at ‘a commonly perceived sense of deadlock’. The chapter traces the steps by which opposing groups arrive at a middling democratic solution. It cautions against the assumption that there is a magic formula to peacemaking, but highlights three factors: internal recognition of the lack of moral legitimacy of one's cause; the extraordinary qualities of the leadership — in the case of South Africa, most notably that of Nelson Mandela; and the importance of external forces, in this case the rapprochement between the United States and Russia and the ending of the Cold War.

Keywords:   peace process, South Africa, moral legitimacy, leadership, Nelson Mandela, external forces, United States, Russia

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