From Military Peace to Social Justice? The Angolan Peace Process

Thursday, January 1, 2004
Southern Africa

On 26 February 2003, the United Nations Under-Secretary for African Affairs and then Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Angola, Ibrahim Gambari, said the country's “experiences in conflict resolution and post-conflict peacebuilding would… provide valuable lessons for the rest of the world”. At first glance, it is difficult to see which lessons Mr Gambari may have been referring to. Firstly, the resolution of the Angolan conflict was largely achieved through a relentless military campaign by the government forces against their National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) adversaries. Peace was only achieved after UNITA's historic leader, Jonas Savimbi, was killed on the battlefield on 22 February 2002, just a year before Gambari's comments. What valuable lessons would such a strategy of ‘peacethrough- war' contain, besides the realization that the world is a wild and dangerous place in which force and violence are in the end the only factors that count? Not to mention the fact that the secessionist war in the enclave of Cabinda has still not come to an end. Secondly, Angola's experiences with post-conflict peacebuilding are still very rudimentary and there are at least signs that things are not going as smoothly as one might wish, as some of the contributions to this volume amply illustrate. In this light, doing an Accord project on the Angolan ‘peace process' is something of a challenge. Having decided to take on this challenge, a word of explanation may be required.

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ACCORD, From Military Peace to Social Justice? The Angolan Peace Process, 2004