Politicians and diplomats gathered at the United Nations in New York for a gala screening of the critically-acclaimed documentary ‘Plot for Peace.’
Pierre Oba, Minister of Mining for the Democratic Republic of Congo, attended the showing:
“Today, the fact that the United Nations has taken ownership of the film – meaning it will be put in the organisation’s archives and added to its heritage – gives the event true recognition,” he told euronews.
The documentary presents the previously untold story of the secret negotiations and parallel diplomacy which led to the signing of the 1998 Brazzaville Accord for peace in South Africa and, ultimately, Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.
‘Plot for Peace’ sees directors Carlos Agullo and Mandy Jacobson bring together testimonies from former heads of state, generals, diplomats, spies and anti-apartheid activists.
At the centre of the plot for peace was French businessman Jean-Yves Ollivier, known as ‘Monsieur Jacques’ in classified documents.
He spoke to euronews:
“What has made the documentary work well is that it shows another way of brokering peace. And that, at the end of the day, what happens on an official level is not always what is going on behind the scenes. I think that’s the fundamental reason for the interest in and the credibility of the film.”
Ollivier built trust among African leaders, offering to mediate prisoner exchanges among six countries (South Africa, Angola, Cuba, Congo-Brazzaville, Mozambique and the United States) and three liberation movements. All were involved in the Cold War struggle to liberate Angola from the Cubans.
Ismael Gaspar Martins, Angolan Ambassador to the UN, also attended the screening.
“The major threat to peace today in Africa is terrorism, which is spreading all over,” he said. “It’s already in Libya, it’s already in the Sahel, it’s already in the Central African Republic and we must stop it.”
The UN: a ‘key role’
The UN played a key, behind-the-scenes role in supporting the major parties in the conflict. Ultimately, the peace deal was signed before the UN Secretary General in New York on December 22, 1998.
Known as the ‘Tripartite Agreement’, it involved Angola, Cuba and South Africa and paved the way for southern African nations to negotiate a peaceful transition to democracy.
Many hope that the work of ‘Monsieur Jacques’ will serve as a blueprint for future peace deals in Africa and beyond, as euronews correspondent, Stefan Grobe, explained.
“The screening of ‘Plot for Peace’ here at the UN shows us that the memory of the Mandela legacy is still alive. And so is the spirit of those who worked secretly for his release from prison. A spirit that can serve as an inspiration for future peace makers.”