“. . . In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us that all his disciples can be ‘peacemakers’ (Matthew 5:9). Peacemakers are people who, through making peace with God, have finally learned how to admit flaws and weakness, how to surrender their pride, how to love without the need to control every situation. These new skills have enormous power to defuse conflicts, to facilitate forgiveness and reconciliation between people. Christians should be fanning out into the world being peacemakers, agents of reconciliation among the races and classes, among the members of families, and between neighbor and neighbor.” Timothy Keller, Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ, pp. 110-111 (2016) Viking.

Nelson Mandela: Greatest Negotiator

By Susan Hackley

Nelson Mandela was “the greatest negotiator of the twentieth century,” wrote Harvard Law School professor and Program on Negotiation Chair Robert H. Mnookin in his seminal book, Bargaining with the Devil, When to Negotiate, When to Fight. In his chapter on Mandela, Mnookin cites Mandela’s patience, tenacity, pragmatism, and strategic thinking.

“He rejected the simple-minded notion that one must either negotiate with the Devil or forcibly resist. He did both. He was willing to make concessions, but not about what was most important to him. With respect to his key political principles, he was unmovable.”

Mnookin admired Mandela’s ability to persuade his adversaries.

“He ultimately achieved through negotiation an outcome that could never have been accomplished solely through violence or resistance. “

(From the Program on Negotiation Daily Blog.)

Mandela – A Titan Remembered

By Art Hinshaw

“With the death of Nelson Mandela, without doubt the most significant political leader in my lifetime, lots has been written about his impact not only on South Africa but also on the world. And plenty is still to be written. Mandela’s impact comes in many ways large and small, but more importantly it still resonates today. One of my most rewarding experiences in my life has been meeting members of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. And of course, without Mandela the TRC would not have existed. Mandela is/was a true titan.

Earlier today FOI Charlie Craver (George Washington) sent out an email on the ADR listserv describing his work as a mediator in South Africa while the terms of both the Interim Constitution and the fall 1994 elections were being negotiated. I asked him if he would take the time to discuss his experience further and here’s what he’s sent along.


South Africa was a most unusual country. A small group of wealthy white persons completely dehumanized millions of individuals solely because of their race. When I met with white leaders, it was as if they had no idea how blacks were living. I had a discussion with two Conservative Members of Parliament who emphasized the fact their families had gone back 350 years in South Africa. When I politely suggested that black South Africans had gone back somewhat further, I could tell from the looks on their faces that they had never even considered this fact. Our subsequent discussions became much more productive after this exchange.

The worst day of my professional life was when I spent a day in Soweto. The conditions in many areas of that Township were unconscionable. Many homes had no sewage, no electricity, and minimal water. A huge percentage of residents were unemployed and without monetary support. When I had lunch, I could hardly eat. Although the food was lovely, I could not eat in an area surrounded by so many persons who were treated in such a subhuman manner.

South Africa was able to finally achieve true democracy because of an extraordinary man named Mandela. He spent twenty-seven years of his life in cruel prison cells fighting for the freedom of all South Africans. Although the government tried on several occasions to talk him into accepting something less than true democracy in exchange for his freedom, he made it clear that he would never accept such terms. He and Gandhi were two of the most exceptional leaders of the past century. I only wish that they could have lived on forever to the benefit of all citizens of the entire world.”

(From the ADR Prof Blog.)

Nonviolent Alternatives in Syria

News Release – War Prevention Initiative Advocates Nonviolent Alternatives in Syria:

For Immediate Release: August 28, 2013

Contact: Patrick Hiller: (541) 490-4485,

War Prevention Initiative Advocates Nonviolent Alternatives in Syria

Portland, Oregon nonprofit cites Global Peace System trends as opportunities to prevent military intervention and avoid further escalation of violence in Syria and the Middle East.

The War Prevention Initiative promotes continued nonviolent approaches to address the escalated violence and atrocities in Syria. Experts point to several factors against the use of military intervention:  (1) the potential grave consequences for this already unstable region, (2) the lack of serious negotiations between the United States, Russia, China and Iran to end the violence, (3) the still ambiguous and unconfirmed information on the use of chemical weapons, (4) the extremist nature of the opposition in the armed conflict, and (5) the current division on this topic within the Arab League.

An evolving Global Peace System offers many opportunities to address the escalated violence and atrocities against civilians. Options include, but are not limited to:

  • Supporting the UN investigation to establish culpability of war crimes, in particular the recent chemical attack
  • Prosecuting the parties responsible for atrocities as criminals through the International Criminal Court rather than waging war against a country and its civilians
  • Invoking targeted economic and political sanctions through the UN Security Council
  • Supporting local nonviolent campaigns
  • Supporting diplomacy, mediation, negotiation or reconciliation to include:
    • Within Syria: the regime, all opposition parties and all societal sectors
    • Globally: Alliances currently backing the regime and the opposition respectively (USA, China, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, etc.)
  • Initiating a peace conference with all internal and external stakeholders (including civil society organizations) leading to a ceasefire agreement, an immediate moratorium of all arms transfers in the region and the process of disarmament
  • Engaging conflict resolution experts in the media to report on the effectiveness of nonviolent conflict transformation

We assert that there is no quick and single solution – as we have seen in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is proven that nonviolent approaches will be more effective and less costly than any kind of military approach.  We urge national and international decision-makers to recognize that it is time to shift from military responses toward the existing, tested and proven nonviolent alternatives to alleviate human suffering.

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War Prevention Initiative, (, is committed to advancing the global peace system by supporting, developing and collaborating with peacebuilding efforts in all sectors of society. The global peace system is evidence of the emergence and effectiveness of trends toward peaceful conflict resolution and justice for all.