There must be a better way
Conflict is a fact of life, but if managed properly disputes can be prevented or settled early, before resulting in costly legal battles, bankrupt businesses or shattered relationships.
This vision drives the African Centre for Dispute Settlement (ACDS), which forms part of the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB).
Under the patronage of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, the Centre has established itself as an academic hub for teaching and research on the theory and practice of dispute settlement.
Prof Barney Jordaan, ACDS director, explains: “We are working hard to bring about a paradigm shift, which will see greater emphasis being placed on dialogue, engagement, negotiations and mediation. The aim is to teach people to resolve their differences through means other than guns or litigation.”
A combination of academic excellence and practical, real-world experience enables the Centre to adopt a change agent role and alter the way in which people think and act in relation to dispute settlement.
The ACDS offers a Postgraduate Diploma in Dispute Settlement and shorter courses on negotiation, mediation, stakeholder dialogue, peacemaking and conflict leadership.
The Centre’s school mediation project in Delft, a violence-wrecked community on the Cape Flats, offers training to learners and educators in resolving conflict and disputes peacefully.
The community mediation projectin Elsies River entails training community members to apply their local knowledge and use peacemaking skills to resolve disputes.
The Peacemakers Project runs on a grander scale.
“There are people rushing around all over the continent dealing with disputes, many of whom have no background or training in peacemaking skills,” says Prof Jordaan.
“So, we are putting together an intensive training programme with role players from all over the world.”
Partners to be involved include:
- The Africa Forum, a network of former African leaders
- The Security Institute for Governance and Leadership in Africa (Sigla)
- Stanford University
- SU’s School of Public Leadership
- The Institute for Research and Education on Negotiation in Europe (Irene) at Essec Business School in Paris
- SU’s Department of Political Science
- Peacemaking professionals
Business for Peace programme
The Business for Peace programme brings together business, NGOs and government representatives to build capacity for better stakeholder engagement, conflict leadership and dispute resolution.
The Centre formulated a comprehensive Professional Accreditation Standard for Dispute Settlement Practitioners South Africa – a first for South Africa.