This book challenges the conventional understanding of South Africa’s transition to democracy as a home-grown process through a comparative analysis of Commonwealth and United Nations mediation attempts.

Approaching power transition through the lens of South Africa, Zwelethu Jolobe raises questions about how methods and types of mediation are understood, and their appropriateness for certain stages of negotiation processes. International Mediation in the South African Transition calls into question the generalisations about the determinants of success by international third parties in resolving internal conflicts. It moves from the position that the success of a mediation effort depends on the examination of the time horizon of a conflict and on the contribution the mediation effort plays in improving the relationship between the belligerents. The book argues that the international community, particularly the Commonwealth and the United Nations, played a profound and beneficial role in the political transition to end apartheid.

International Mediation in the South African Transition will be of interest to students and scholars of African politics, conflict resolution, international relations and global governance.

chapter 1|6 pages


chapter 2|15 pages

International mediation

chapter 3|35 pages

Historical background

The structure of the South African conflict

chapter 4|41 pages

Getting to the table

The mission of the eminent persons group

chapter 5|38 pages

Getting to agreement

The United Nations Observer Mission to South Africa

chapter 6|13 pages

Contrasting roles in international mediation

Lessons from South Africa