The Southern African Defence and Security Management (SADSEM), jointly with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, organised from the 17th to the 18th of October, its security dialogue in Gaborone, Botswana, under the theme “Mediation as a Tool for Conflict Transformation: Its Use, Effectiveness and Lessons”. The security dialogue gathered academics, security experts and NGO Representatives who wanted to discuss mediation issues and how academics can bridge the gap between theory and practice, thus helping decision makers in mediation and peace keeping processes.
The importance of the role of mediators, of coherence, legitimacy, and understanding of African politics, was continuously highlighted. Currently, it is believed that mediation missions fall short of being fulfilled as most African countries lack 1) coherence, 2) legitimacy in their action, 3) representativeness, and 4) correct intentions. Moreover, further emphasis was placed on the role of mediators, which is often overlooked. Mediators possess the responsibility to use their knowledge of the dynamics of conflict, to contribute to its de-escalation. These mediators cannot be merely people in decision making positions but should also include everyday citizens who have knowledge and contact with the community and their needs.
It was agreed that there should be continuity on the topics referred to as priority by the SADSEM Network through the creation of a reflection group that would plan action points for an effective research agenda.