Hailing from Belarus, I spent most of my UN career working in Africa, or on issues related to the continent. From 1992-1994, for instance, I was part of the United Nations Observer Mission in South Africa (UNOMSA) that helped facilitate both a democratic dispensation and the presidential election of Nelson Mandela. My other positions—which included leadership roles at the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), the UN Advance Mission in the Sudan (UNAMIS), and the UN Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS)—brought me to the forefront of crisis settlement negotiations in some of Africa’s most contested disputes.
Since the 1990s, there has been a very large number of peace processes in Africa—many of which I was part of. They are an important part of the continent’s modern political history. However, at the time of this writing, I am unable to locate any aggregate set of statistics on them. This incomplete scope of basic evidence means that critical data is not being systematically utilized as the basis of research, even though a comprehensive systemization should be the most desirable outcome of any academic inquiry into peace processes. Systemization would help create a set of best practice guidelines and a list of lessons learned for practitioners to utilize. Regrettably, both products are rare commodities for Africa’s peace processes.
I hope to help overcome this shortage, however, by donating my personal archives to the World Peace Foundation.
My notes, memos, and research from my Africa-focused UN career are ideal for helping to produce a systemic set of best practice guidelines and a list of lessons learned. Existing archives and databases, such as the Peace Accord’s Matrix administered by the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and the Ceasefire Database administered by the International Law and Policy Group, have a global scope.
With the archiving of my work at the World Peace Foundation, I hope to spur an initiative that focuses solely on the unique opportunities and challenges to peace processes in the African context. Lessons can certainly be learned, as almost every known type of peace process—from large-scale multilateral initiatives to community-based approaches—can be stamped “Made in Africa.”
Researching these peace processes systemically, especially in quantifiable terms, would greatly increase our understanding of what does and does not work in Africa, and around the world. My wish is that those who utilize my archives will inquire into the following research areas: (1) the methodological parameters of peace processes; (2) the critical mass of circumstances and substantive factors that ensure the success of a peace process; (3) the human factor of those who participate in peace processes; (4) the question of the efficacy of the confidentiality of negotiations; and (5) the best practices for archiving peace processes and disseminating valuable information from them.
In good faith, I gladly donate my personal archive to the World Peace Foundation for the equal purposes of preserving history and advancing the foundation’s three interconnected forms of activity: research, education, and policy engagement.
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