Mediation as a tool for conflict transformation : a comparative analysis of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Rwandan Gacaca courts

Shewell, Emma Anne (2020-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2020.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Within the broad field of conflict resolution, mediation has traditionally been conceptualised as a tool for conflict management or settlement. In other words, in both theory and practice, mediation is assumed to be a process of interest-based negotiation facilitated by a third party with the aim of arriving at a tangible agreement. Whether the agreement be in the form of a ceasefire, partial settlement or signed peace treaty, this outcomes-based approach has traditionally dominated the mediation discourse. In African practice this trend remains, with most mediation efforts being restricted to the elite level in the form of political negotiations between high-profile leaders. This study aims to extend these assumptions of traditional mediation concerning the conflict resolution potential of the mechanism. Given that mediation brings disputants together in communication that is otherwise unlikely to have taken place, it opens a unique possibility for dialogue and improved mutual understanding. By developing a newer model of mediation, that of ‘process-based’ mediation, this study resituates the mechanism as a tool for holistic conflict transformation. This approach prioritises the process of mediation as an end in itself, as opposed to a means to settlement ends. When formulated according to the five characteristics of the process-based model, mediation projects are argued to engender transformations of conflict at their root cause by improving the quality of relational interaction between disputants. These characteristics are community participation, context-specificity, the use of an Insider-Partial mediator, limited resource pressure, and a relational focus. Through a comparative case study analysis of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Rwandan gacaca courts and using the process-based model as an analytical framework, the study demonstrates the applicability of this model in cases of protracted conflict on the African continent. In comparing the relative manifestation of the model within these cases and their subsequent transformative success, the study provides support for the use of process-based mediation as a conflict response in Africa. The case comparison finds that the five characteristics of the process-based model are in many ways linked, with the most important transformative elements being community participation and a relational focus. By demonstrating the transformative potential of mediation practice, the findings contribute to a contemporary movement in mediation literature away from its limited traditional conceptualisation.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In die breë veld van konflikoplossing is bemiddeling tradisioneel gekonseptualiseer as 'n instrument vir konflikhantering of oplossing. Met ander woorde, in beide teorie en praktyk, word aanvaar dat bemiddeling 'n proses van onderhandeling is wat deur 'n derde party gefasiliteer word op grond van belang, met die doel om tot 'n tasbare ooreenkoms te kom. Of die ooreenkoms in die vorm van 'n wapenstilstand, gedeeltelike skikking of ondertekende vredesverdrag bestaan, oorheers hierdie uitkomsgebaseerde benadering tradisioneel die bemiddelingsdiskoers. In Afrika-praktyke bly hierdie tendens voort, met die meeste bemiddelingspogings beperk tot die elite-vlak in die vorm van politieke onderhandelinge tussen hoëprofielleiers. Hierdie studie het ten doel gestel om hierdie aannames van tradisionele bemiddeling rakende die konflikoplossingspotensiaal van die meganisme uit te brei. Aangesien bemiddeling geskille bymekaar bring vir kommunikasie wat andersins onwaarskynlik sou plaasvind, skep dit 'n unieke moontlikheid vir dialoog en verbeterde wedersydse begrip. Deur die ontwikkeling van 'n nuwer bemiddelingsmodel, naamlik 'proses-gebaseerde' bemiddeling, word hierdie meganisme hervat as 'n instrument vir holistiese konfliktransformasie. Hierdie benadering prioritiseer die bemiddelingsproses as ‘n doel op sigself, in teenstelling met 'n middel tot skikking. Wanneer bemiddelingsprojekte geformuleer word volgens die vyf kenmerke van die proses-gebaseerde model, word daar geredeneer dat bemiddelingsprojekte transformasie van konflik tot gevolg het by hulle kernoorsaak, deur die kwaliteit van die verhoudingsinteraksie tussen disputante te verbeter. Hierdie kenmerke is gemeenskapsdeelname, konteks-spesifisiteit, die gebruik van 'n “Insider-Partial” bemiddelaar, beperkte hulpbrondruk en 'n verhoudingsfokus. Deur middel van 'n vergelykende gevallestudie-analise van die Suid-Afrikaanse Waarheids- en Versoeningskommissie en die Rwandese gacaca-howe, en die gebruik van die prosesgebaseerde model as analitiese raamwerk, toon die studie die toepaslikheid van hierdie model in gevalle van uitgerekte konflik op die vasteland van Afrika aan. In die vergelyking van die relatiewe manifestasie van die model in hierdie gevalle en die daaropvolgende transformatiewe sukses, bied die studie ondersteuning vir die gebruik van prosesgebaseerde bemiddeling as konflikrespons in Afrika. Die gevalvergelyking vind dat die vyf eienskappe van die prosesgebaseerde model op baie maniere gekoppel is met die belangrikste transformerende elemente, gemeenskapsdeelname en 'n verhoudingsfokus. Deur die transformatiewe potensiaal van bemiddelingspraktyk te demonstreer, dra die bevindings by tot 'n kontemporêre beweging in bemiddelingsliteratuur en beweeg weg van die beperkte tradisionele konseptualisering.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/108034
This item appears in the following collections: