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Victor Dlamini

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Podcast with Peace-Maker and ex-US Congressman Howard Wolpe

Howard Wolpe Howard Wolpe brings to peace-making and diplomacy a refreshingly skeptical approach, one that implicitly questions the ability of standard diplomacy to resolve conflict in areas where trust is low. Howard is the Director of the Africa Program and the Project on Leadership and Building State Capacity at the Washington DC-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. In the work that he has done in some of Africa’s hotspots, such as Burundi and the DRC, Howard explains that he prefers an approach that avoids quick fixes and instead he focuses on employing methods that are slower, but that in the end are more likely to result in sustainable peace processes.

One of the things that gave me pause for thought, concerning Howard’s views, is his emphasis on placing a great deal of responsibility on the affected parties to make a lasting peace. This in stark contrast to overemphasizing the role of the facilitator – as can be seen in the views expressed by many analysts who have criticized President Mbeki’s insistence that Zimbabweans must find a lasting solution to their problems themselves.

Howard WolpeJoin me on The Victor Dlamini Literary Podcast as I chat to Howard about his truly original and fascinating views on post-conflict leadership training and how this training provides an important foundation on which to build peace. In our conversation, he explains that one of the major pitfalls of the standard approach is that often the leaders from opposing sides are brought in and it is suddenly expected that they will begin their peace making process by going straight into the very issues that separate them. Howard believes that such an approach can make it impossible for them to make any progress; by contrast, his approach involves learning new skills upfront. Get the leaders into the first room and establish a basis for meaningful dialogue through post-conflict leadership training. Then start to negotiate.

Howard’s views, which are backed up by the success of his methods in Africa’s Great Lakes Region, is a timely and important reminder that there can be no sacred cows in change- and peace-making. If standard approaches get in the way of real progress, they must be cast aside.

Amongst his many roles, Howard served as President Bill Clinton’s Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region of Africa, where he participated in the Arusha peace talks that were held to end civil war in the war-torn nation of Burundi. He is held in high esteem as a highly knowledgeable specialist in African politics.

Howard WolpeIn a long and distinguished career, Howard has taught at Western Michigan University, Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, and has served as a Visiting Fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies Program of the Brookings Institution. He served as a Congressman in the United States House of Representatives from 1979 to 1993, where, among other things, he chaired the Subcommittee on Africa of the House Foreign Affairs Committee for 10 years.

For more information on Howard’s life and work, click here. Please tune into our fascinating conversation on conflict resolution in Africa:

  • Play now: use the widget links below, or click the link under Latest episodes in the sidebar on the right.
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