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Conflict Trends: Issue 3, 2012 - ACCORD at twenty years

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The Beginning

Over the past twenty years, the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) has evolved into an organisation that successfully promotes reflection, education and intervention in African conflicts.

At our inception in 1992 we put forward the ambitious and progressive mission to ‘encourage and promote the constructive resolution of disputes by the peoples of Africa and so assist in achieving political stability, economic recovery and peaceful co-existence within just and democratic societies’. Achieving this goal has required ACCORD’s constant evolution so as to best anticipate and navigate Africa’s continually changing socio-political climate. Our experiences reflect the fundamental reality that conflicts on the continent are complex and multi-faceted.

These require a confluence of skilled intervention, practical knowledge and determined political will.
ACCORD initially emerged as an institutional and societal response to South Africa’s democratic transition between 1990 and 1994. Following extensive consultations with political, business and grassroots leaders of all affiliations, we recognised an implicit shift in the mood of the country that took us away from the violence that marred the Apartheid era. There was both a need and a space for an organisation that could traverse the confines of the country’s suffocating socio-political framework to shepherd a paradigm shift towards dialogue and negotiations. After situating our offices across five South African universities1 we set about accomplishing three crucial goals in the then rapidly changing South Africa.