December 4, 2008

HARRISONBURG—The Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI) in London, together with the Brenthurst Foundation, announced today that Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, is the winner of the 2008 Nelson Mandela International Essay Competition on African Security and Development.

The prize was established jointly three years ago by RUSI and the Brenthurst Foundation, with generous support from the Nelson Mandela Foundation. The annual competition is open to practitioners in the field, academics, government officials, and armed forces personnel who contribute new perspectives to the debate on African security and development concerns in a field selected by the Mandela Foundation. This year’s topic was “What Future for the Democratic Republic of Congo?” The winner receives a cash award as well as election to membership in RUSI.

The 2007 prize was awarded to Laurie Nathan of the London School of Economics and the University of Cape Town for his article “‘None But Ourselves’: Democratic Design of Security and Defence Policy in Africa,” while the inaugural prize was given to David Chuter, a veteran official of British Ministry of Defence, for his study “Feeling Good or Feeling Better: Options for Security and Development in Africa.”

Dr. Pham who, according to Daniel Sherman, RUSI’s media and communications executive, “won amidst stiff competition,” received this year’s Mandela Prize for his paper “Imagining the Congo Secure and Stable,” which proposes a hardheaded look at the constant crises which have beset Africa’s third largest country. The essay will be published at the end of the month in the RUSI Journal, the Institute’s flagship defense and security publication since 1857. Runners-up for the prize this year were Stephen Carter, Coordinator of the United Kingdom’s All Party Parliamentary Group on the Great Lakes Region of Africa, and Chris Wake, a British civil servant.

Founded by the Duke of Wellington in 1831 and housed in historic Whitehall, RUSI aims to work on the cutting edge of defense and security studies. Under the presidency of HRH the Duke of Kent, RUSI’s purpose is “to analyze, stimulate debate and identify options for all issues of national and international defense and security,” carrying on nearly two centuries of forward thinking, free discussion and careful reflection.

The Brenthurst Foundation is a Johannesburg, South Africa-based think tank devoted to strengthening Africa’s economic performance by creating an environment conducive to positive change.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation leads the development of a living legacy that captures the vision and values of former South African President Nelson Mandela’s life and work. Through the creation of strategic networks and partnerships, the Foundation “directs resources, knowledge and practice to add value and demonstrate new possibilities” while embodying the spirit of reconciliation, ubuntu, and social justice in a celebration of Mr. Mandela’s life.