Relational Peacebuilding Initiatives (RPI) facilitates behind the scenes consultations which aim to help turn major political conflicts into lasting and satisfactory settlements. Through sustained and comprehensive experience in its peacebuilding initiatives in South Africa, Rwanda and Sudan, RPI has developed a Track Two peacebuilding methodology which is applicable in many conflict-situations in the world.
THE SOUTH AFRICA BREAKTHROUGH
From 1986, a relational peacebuilding methodology was developed and implemented within the context of what then became known as the Newick Park Initiative (NPI). This continued until April 1991 and helped to ensure the peaceful transition there from white supremacist rule to fully racially-inclusive democracy.
The process involved both the original participants and leading to the involvement of senior members of the ANC together with SA Government officials. Through regular meetings held in England and South Africa, NPI provided a safe context in which discussion on difficult problems could be carried out amicably and informally, but also objectively, without the media pressure to make partisan statements.
NPI was an evidence-based process founded on the building of trust and the honest and open sharing of insights with the goal of a just and fully-inclusive peace. Each of the conferences was underpinned by detailed research and, as the process continued, drew on top-level expertise from leading South African and international experts.
Through these meetings goals and strategies were identified on which there could be a high degree of consensus on the basis of shared values, and at the same time narrow down areas of conflict and disagreement where further research and consultation was needed to bring the parties to the negotiation process closer together. NPI provided a crucial contribution to the peace process in South Africa and helped to ensure the peaceful transition there from white supremacist democratic rule.
A similar process was set in train in 1994 with a peacebuilding programme in post-genocide Rwanda, running until 1999. The Rwandan peacebuilding programme made important contributions in the areas of justice and agriculture.
The peacebuilding process in Sudan ran from 1999 until 2004, contributing to the key breakthrough at Machakos in July 2002 which led to the end of the Sudanese Civil War.
Our process starts with a careful identification of the main parties in the conflict and their competing interests and aspirations.
A group of participants identified as being close to the central protagonists, and yet not directly in the public eye, should be invited in their personal capacities and a programme undertaken to set out the issues to be considered. The focus of the discussions will be on middle- to long-term questions, looking beyond the immediate conflict to a long-term basis for its resolution and the associated benefits for all parties.
The process draws on widely inclusive ‘Relational’ principles drawn from the Christian and Jewish faith traditions, but not exclusive to them. These Relational principles can provide a key and distinctive point of entry for the Track Two initiative which is proposed.
The aim is to draw in high-level experts and people of influence for a series of consultations over 2-3 years, each of whom has a deep knowledge of the political, economic and strategic issues, and who are sufficiently close to the principals, but attending in their personal capacities. The objective is the creation of a body which can act in two ways:
1. as a catalyst, to resolve the key sticking points and so help to build confidence across the current divides and
2. as a consensus-builder, to draw on the non-partisan principles and our independent research to inform their principals.
For more information, visit the RPI website.
Chairman of Relational Peacebuilding Initiatives Michael Schluter recently visited a centre where traditional Korean values of filial piety are taught to elementary school children. Michael is currently undertaking a peace initiative in the Korean peninsula through Relational Peacebuilding Initiatives (RPI),
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