On 1 February 2013 Dr Dieter Lünse, Head of the Institute of Conflict Management and Mediation based in Hamburg, Germany, was the guest presenter at an Internal Staff Seminar held at ACCORD House in Durban. Dr Lünse's presentation focused on discussing the effectiveness of non-violent action and civic courage in bringing about social change and resolving conflict.
Dr Lünse explained that in the conflict management field, violence and displays of strength are often regarded as the only viable solutions to successfully resolve disputes, while the power of non-violent action and activism is ignored. Drawing on Egypt, the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) and Liberia as case studies, Dr Lünse reflected on how civic participation in non-violent action was effective in these countries in achieving social transformation and conflict resolution. He argued that more effort should be made to study the influence of non-violent acts and campaigns in diffusing potentially volatile situations.
The presenter shared the findings of research that he and his colleagues have conducted with school children in Germany. This research studied the effectiveness of teaching non-violent conflict resolution methods in schools to impact levels of bullying. The results of these studies have been applied to the development of programmes which teach children various non-violent mechanisms to help change their behaviour and approaches to dealing with conflict.
Dr Lünse's presentation provided a valuable opportunity to engage on alternatives to violent conflict and the peaceful resolution of disputes through dialogue and institutional development. The event formed part of ACCORD's Internal Staff Seminars, which aim at providing a platform for knowledge sharing and exchange among members of staff on a variety of conflict-related issues.