Summary of "Conflict Prevention: Strategies to Sustain Peace in the Post-Cold War World"

Summary of

Conflict Prevention: Strategies to Sustain Peace in the Post-Cold War World

By The Aspen Institute

This Article Summary written by: Conflict Research Consortium Staff

"Conflict Prevention: Strategies to Sustain Peace in the Post-Cold War World," (Aspen, Colorado: The Aspen Institute, 1996), pp. 23-31.

Participants at the 1996 Aspen Institute Conferences on International Peace and Security discussed strategies to sustain peace in the post-Cold War era.

Secession and Self-Determination

Czechoslovakia was made up of different ethnic groups. Slovakia in particular wished to secede. With the end of the Cold War Czechoslovakia was eager to avoid the sort of bloody collapse that Yugoslavia suffered. The Czechs used democratic processes to address their ethnic conflicts and avoid warfare. The central government negotiated with the breakaway Slovakian republic, but negotiations failed to produce an agreement. When negotiations failed the central government held a democratic referendum on the issue of Slovakian secession. The secessionists won the referendum and the resulting separation into the Czech Republic and Slovakia became known as the "velvet divorce."

Regional Intervention

Burma was taken over by a military coup. The ruling military junta renamed the country Myanmar,' and have been responsible for ruthless political repression and serious human rights abuses. The International community has moved to isolate Myanmar, in the hope that denying moral and political legitimacy to the regime will pressure it to undertake more democratic reforms. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) prefers a policy of constructive engagement. ASEAN hopes that political integration into the region will give the regime time to change, and that opening Myanmar's economy will lead to greater political liberty. By engaging with Myanmar ASEAN also hopes to prevent that regime form forging close ties with India and China.

Justice and the Rule of Law

South Africa succeeded in making a generally peaceful transition from a system of racial apartheid to democratic majority-rule. This success was due in large part to intense internal efforts to pursue justice through legal methods. The National Peace Accord provided for local level peace committees which were charged with ending violence. The peace commissions had extensive subpoena and search-and-seizure powers. To ensure that the inquiries were unbiased, senior police officers from the European Union were included on the commissions, and the UN was invited to observe. Foreign legal experts were also called in for special investigations. The de Klerk administration respected the authority of the peace commissions and did not intervene politically in investigations. The new parliament established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and appointed Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu to head the Commission. The Truth Commission was charged with investigating human rights violations and making reparations. The all-white, all-male apartheid era judiciary was also replaced.