The government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have conducted on-off peace negotiations since 1997. These protracted negotiations have allowed an innovative and increasingly complex peace-support architecture to develop, with three core pillars:
- The facilitator: Malaysia, since 2001
- The International Monitoring Team (IMT), deployed since 2005, with participation of Malaysia, Libya, Brunei, Japan, Norway and the EU.
- The International Contact Group (ICG), established December 2009
The ICG is comprised of four countries: Japan, UK, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and four international NGOs: Muhammadiyah, The Asia Foundation, the HD Centre and Conciliation Resources. It is the first of its kind where NGOs and diplomats work together in a formal and permanent setting.
Role of the International Contact Group
The ICG has been able to provide quiet, thoughtful, balanced and respectful support to the parties, the facilitator and the overall talks, ranging from simply witnessing the talks to actively shuttling between the parties to ease deadlocks and suggest ways forward.
The hybrid nature of the ICG is proving to be an effective model in supporting the peace talks and ensuring they stay on track. International NGOs have technical expertise and also the flexibility to engage with a wide range of actors and explore new ideas; at the same time diplomats provide essential leverage and political and economic support for the peace process.
Thank you for your sterling performance in the Kuala Lumpur talks this week.
Mary Ann Arnado, Executive Director of the Mindanao People’s Caucus, August 2011