Nelson Mandela as a Third Side

William Ury

Director of the Global Negotiation Project, Program on Negotiation, Harvard Law School

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

Q: So, ok, but now, the idea of violence as an alternative in terms of bolstering the power of - or at least the position of -- the less powerful seems like it's still looming. I mean the idea of terrible injustice, and that it's not going to change unless we have a revolution, or unless there's some sort of violent protest. And I think Nelson Mandela is also a consummate third sider and always had command over the street riots to say, "Ok, when this isn't working, we're going to the streets "

A: Right. Well see, Mandela to me is a great example of a third sider - he wasn't neutral, he was on one side and he stood for the whole. If you just look at his language, all throughout, from the very beginning - even back from the revonian trial??? Back in the '50s and early '60s was, "I stand for the whites and the blacks. I want the freedom of the blacks and the freedom of the whites and all of the other people in South Africa." And it's really interesting, I remember when he was released from prison after 27 years, and he goes and gives his first speech there, I believe it was in Parliament Square there in Capetown, and there's this huge everyone's paying attention - all these TV cameras, and his first words are in Afrikans, the language of his adversary. Because he's trying to say, "I am standing for a South Africa that includes you." So he [Nelson Mandela] very definitely is a model third sider and again he is an insider and he was helped by the outsiders.