A Memorandum of Agreement for the collaboration between Conciliation Resources and The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) has been signed in Cotaboto City, Philippines on 30 November.
This new agreement will provide a framework for the sustained collaboration between Conciliation Resources and the BTC, leading to increased consultations with the people of Mindanao on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. The Commission was established earlier this year following a Framework Agreement between the Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and will spend until mid 2014 drafting the Basic Law to determine the powers of a new autonomous political entity. The collaboration with Conciliation Resources will initially focus on assistance in developing a communications strategy and tools for public consultations, as well as conducting some of these consultations through local partner organisations.
To help facilitate the transition and support the BTC, Conciliation Resources has secured funding to run two parallel and complementary projects, which aim to empower women and wider grassroots populations through public participation in governance. Funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Entrenching Women’s participation in the Basic Law of Muslim Mindanao project, aims to secure provisions that will cement women’s participation in politics and governance. The Basic Law will pay special attention to indigenous women who represent a minority population within the new majority Muslim Bangsamoro political entity and there will be dialogue meetings between different indigenous tribal communities.
The second EU-funded project: Building Peace in Mindanao through public participation in governance, will be assisted by a diverse group of local project partners such as Mindanews, a media cooperative composed of independent, professional journalists. Mindanews will provide technical assistance to the BTC communications team. Other partners will also initially contribute to the BTC communications strategy with recommendations on how to reach out to the grassroots communities and other sectors in society.
As a member of the International Contact Group for the Mindanao peace negotiations, Conciliation Resources has to date had significant involvement in the process and is well placed to provide support to the next phase. The biggest challenge to the implementation of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro is weak governance capacities and a short time frame. These projects will help to ensure combined support to the transition institutions with demand for delivery. All project partners will engage with different sectors of society through consultations and peace summits. Partners will conduct more than 150 consultations, promoting dialogue and active participation of more than 7000 people. They will also engage in advocacy campaigns with sectors that may be initially opposed or sceptical to the peace process.There are also opportunities to expand into other areas of collaboration upon mutual agreement on both sides.