Oct 2012

The Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro reached today between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signals an end to more than four decades of armed conflict in Mindanao. With the facilitation of the Government of Malaysia and the support of the International Contact Group (ICG) – of which Conciliation Resources is a member – one of the most protracted conflicts in the world is being brought to a close after 15 years of negotiations. We congratulate the parties who have persevered to reach this peaceful conclusion.

 
With its commitment to accommodate Bangsamoro demands for greater self-rule, the Philippines is following a global trend of increased decentralisation in response to the diverse and multiple identities of its people. At the same time, MILF’s pragmatism and negotiation skills challenge prejudice that all too often links political Islam to radicalism and violence. Both parties have shown courage and determination in settling the demands for self-determination for the Muslim population in southeastern Philippines. 
 
“The Philippines is demonstrating new ways to address old wars – a sign of hope for other places with protracted armed conflict, such as Myanmar and Kashmir. The key to successful implementation now will be local ownership and public participation.” – Kristian Herbolzheimer, Philippines Programme Director, Conciliation Resources
 
The Framework Agreement is not the final step of the peace process. It rather signals a new phase by which the Government and MILF now work as partners in the implementation of its provisions. This is the most fragile step in any peace process. Expectations for rapid change are high while structural reform inevitably takes time. Inclusive, cross-sector public participation in the process must be maintained. Civil society, religious leaders, media, the business and the security sector all have a key role to play in securing a sustainable peace.
 
We call upon the international community to maintain a smart and respectful support to the agreement’s implementation: allow for local ownership and guidance; assess the right balance and timing for political, technical, and financial support; coordinate to avoid doing unintended harm; and keep a long-term perspective in mind. 
 
The Mindanao peace process has learned the hard lessons of past failures. It has thereby developed an innovative peace-support architecture that can inspire other peace processes elsewhere:
  • A hybrid facilitation support body, with both states and international NGOs.  
  • A hybrid monitoring body on the ground, bringing together internationals and locals, civilian and military, states and NGOs.  
 
Negotiating panels agreed to provide early ‘peace dividends’ by setting up a Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) back in 2002. Earlier this year a Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) was set up to provide training to strengthen the governance capacities in the future self-governing region. Additionally, the Philippines is probably the country that is taking women’s participation most seriously, in the process responding better than anyone else to the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on the agency of women in peace processes. Women play a leading role at all levels: in politics, in the negotiations, in business, in media, in civil society. 
 
“The agreement ushers in a new chapter in the search for peace. We praise and support those who have led the way to this commitment.” – Emma Leslie, member of the International Contact Group on Mindanao
 
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Conciliation Resources is an independent organisation working with people in conflict to prevent violence and build peace. In the Philippines, we work with all sections of society from grassroots communities to the political elite, enabling individuals and organisations to play a constructive, problem-solving role in developing peace. 
We place special emphasis on empowering women as a key approach for a just and lasting peace. www.c-r.org
 
Further info: Clare Richards | Media & Communications Officer | Mobile: +44 (0)7436 102 514 | crichards@c-r.org