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Building Trust and Supporting Human Rights in Apartheid South Africa

In 1988, a formidable coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans passed the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act (CAA) over President Reagan’s veto. Months later, USAID sent Timothy Bork to South Africa to implement this highly controversial legislation. During Bork’s tour, Nelson Mandela and other leaders remained imprisoned as violent confrontations erupted in townships across South Africa. At […]

The United States and South Africa: The Binational Commission in the Years Following Apartheid

Directly following the election of Nelson Mandela as President of South Africa in 1994, the U.S. government began to work closely with the new South African leadership to facilitate development efforts. Before Mandela’s election, South Africa’s apartheid system and U.S. laws hindered U.S. aid. However, after the election of President Mandela, the binational “Gore-Mbeki Commission” […]

USAID’s Work with an Unsung Hero of the Fight Against Apartheid in South Africa: Dullah Omar

USAID worked intensively with the new South African government after the fall of apartheid in 1994.  William Stacy Rhodes was at the heart of these efforts, serving as Mission Director from 1998-2002.  He recalls working closely with Dullah Omar, Nelson Mandela’s lawyer in the darkest days of apartheid and the first Minister of Justice in […]

South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission

After nearly 50 years of brutal apartheid in South Africa, it is almost impossible to imagine how people could coexist peacefully. However, the new, post-apartheid government demonstrated the power of reconciliation, which eventually served as a blueprint for similar initiatives throughout the world. Apartheid, the racial segregation system in South Africa, lasted from 1948 to […]

Building a Country from Scratch—The South Sudanese Transition to Independence (2005-2011)

Creating a country ex nihilo is never an easy feat. How does one construct functional government institutions from scratch in a land that has been in conflict for decades? Ethnic tensions and former colonial administrations make this uphill battle even steeper. South Sudan faced this very situation after signing the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). […]

The Fall of South Vietnam and Operation Babylift

The fall of Saigon and the chaotic evacuation of the U.S. Embassy is one of the most infamous episodes in American diplomatic history. For Mary Lee Garrison, it was also part of her first job. At age 22, Garrison arrived in Saigon in June 1974 to an internal political consensus that the conflict was winding […]