Review: From War to Peace: A handbook for peace activists with negotiating ambitions

Caroline Guinard, with foreword by Oscar Arias

By Viktor von Buchstab (reviewer)

This compact book provides a succinct to-do list for entering various stages of the peace-negotiating process. Its case studies cover a span from the resolution of the 1977 Biafran conflict to the current attempts to restore human rights in Burma. It delivers a short history text, dwelling on the causes and events of wars, their resolutions, and their aftermaths. TIt is a practical field-manual, with philosophical rationales behind the peacemaker's agenda. An inspiring introduction by Dr. Oscar Arias, former president of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace laureate, declares, "Peace is not a dream; it is hard work." The book, then, shows how such hard work may be made more productive; and it addresses how to achieve peaceful conditions in shorter time frames (a point sometimes overlooked by visionaries whose event horizon extends beyond the patience of those needing help). The author notes that when, "after many years of conflict, one party changes its policy and desires to pursue a peace process, they are often handicapped by a lack of experience, especially of alternatives to war."

The peace process is divided into three phases: a) Pre-negotiation - agreement to talk about talks; b) Framework & substantive agreement-a module devoted to hammering out a working document to pave the way to a lasting peace; and c) Final stage - implementation of the agreement. The author's exposition of the necessary steps required to get the protagonists to the negotiating table (and how to decide whom to include) are as important as the actual negotiations. Readers can download the text in Adobe Acrobat format from www.nonviolenceinternational.net/ seasia/dowload/war_to_peace.pdf. The table of contents yields a useful overview. This is a valuable handbook for fostering peaceful resolution of conflicts.

Peace Magazine Oct-Dec 2003

Peace Magazine Oct-Dec 2003, page 30. Some rights reserved.

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