Legal versus Political Mechanisms of Conflict Management: South Africa and Northern Ireland Compared
Adrian Guelke (Queen's University of Belfast, Northern Ireland)

Consociationalism has emerged as a major means of external conflict management in the post-Cold War world.  The political settlement in Northern Ireland, despite frequent crises, stands out as a relatively successful use of this particular means of promoting political accommodation in a deeply divided society.  In the case of South Africa, by contrast, consociational devices have not played a significant role in sustaining liberal-democracy after apartheid.  The establishment of a Government of National Unity merely smoothed the path to majority rule.  Legal rather than political constraints have placed limits on the conduct of the Executive under a majoritarian system.  These include the bill of rights and the office of the public protector. The paper explains why such different approaches to the challenge of creating a legitimate dispensation in a deeply divided society were adopted in these two cases.  It also seeks to assess the pluses and minuses of the two approaches in their respective contexts.