In This Review

Burundi on the Brink, 1993-95: A U.N. Special Envoy Reflects on Preventive Diplomacy
Burundi on the Brink, 1993-95: A U.N. Special Envoy Reflects on Preventive Diplomacy
By Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah
United States Institute of Peace Press, 2000, 170 pp.

This instructive memoir by a senior Mauritanian diplomat examines the political situation in Burundi during the two years surrounding the 1994 genocide in neighboring Rwanda. Dispatched as a special U.N. representative with a mandate to mediate in Burundi's simmering civil war, Ould-Abdallah inserted himself with skill and determination into the country's fratricidal brew of bloodshed, suspicion, fear, and rumor-and achieved significant successes in crisis control and longer-term peacemaking. After his departure (which he says was occasioned by the politics of Boutros Boutros-Ghali's campaign for reelection as U.N. secretary-general), some but not all of these advances were reversed. Would-be mediators will find much wisdom and a depth of perception often missing in the memoirs of non-African diplomats in Africa. A good case study for students of conflict resolution.