After 40 Years of Conflict, a Peace Agreement in the Philippines
March 30, 2014
The Nonviolent Peaceforce / Special to EAW
A new era is dawning in the Philippines as the forty-year conflict in Mindanao, Philippines, between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, reaches a turning point. The final signing of a peace treaty comes 17 months after it’s initiation in October 2012 and is the culmination of a peace process spanning 17 years. The Nonviolent Peaceforce played a small but significant role in the peace process that has led up to this signing.
MINNEAPOLIS and BELGIUM (March 27, 2014) -- Nonviolent Peaceforce has released a press statement about the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. Nonviolent Peaceforce has played a small but significant role in the peace process that has led up to this signing. We are a member of the official ceasefire monitoring mechanism in the Philippines. Delegates from our organization represented Nonviolent Peaceforce at the signing.
Nonviolent Peaceforce was founded in 2002. We have four country programs in Myanmar, the Philippines, South Caucasus and South Sudan. Our offices are in Minneapolis, MN and Brussels, Belgium.
Our unarmed peacekeepers are trained local community members and international civilians, who work in areas affected by armed violence. We are able to provide security and safety for civilians by building trusting relationships in communities. We also work by following the values of nonpartisanship. Our press statement is as follows:
The Philippines Statement on Comprehensive
Agreement on the Bangsamoro Signing
(March 27, 2914) -- A new era is dawning in the Philippines as the forty-year conflict in Mindanao, Philippines, between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), reaches a turning point; one that has the country directed toward sustainable peace.
Today, 27th March, 2014, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) was officially signed by both the GPH and MILF. The final signing of the CAB comes 17 months after it’s initiation in October 2012 and is the culmination of a peace process spanning 17 years.
This milestone solidifies the foundation for the Bangsamoro Sub-state, which will provide the region greater political and governing autonomy. It will also preserve the vibrant history, tradition and culture of the Moro people. Moreover, this epic achievement will bring an end to the decades of violence that have plagued Mindanao.
The MILF Peace Panel Chairman, Mohager Iqbal specifically relayed to Atif Hameed, Nonviolent Peaceforce Director of Programs, “The Final Signing of the CAB is a greatest hope for real peace. Its collective achievement of a life time and Nonviolent Peaceforce is very much part of this historical success.”
The peace process has been rife with challenges; three major wars and innumerable armed clashes contributed to the derailment of peace talks on multiple occasions. The multitude of challenges that have been overcome makes the achievement even grander. It also speaks to the unwavering dedication of both parties in seeking sustainable solutions which are in the best interest of the country and the people of Mindanao.
Both the GPH And MILF recognized the critical importance of establishing effective monitoring mechanisms on the ground to address the ceasefire and civilian safety. This will thereby create the necessary space for the Peace Panels to focus on resolution of the most salient and contentious issues in the peace talks. The signing of the CAB is the demonstration that resolution on these issues has been achieved.
Several steps remain before the Bangsamoro is a fully operational Sub-state, including drafting and ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. However, the foundation has been set and the future is bright.
The veteran civil society leader of Mindanao, Guimal Alim, who serves as Chairman of the Nonviolent Peaceforce Philippines Advisory Council shared that, “This is an initial victory in the long Bangsamoro struggle for self-determination. This political gain must be sustained to improve the socio-economic life of the Bangsamoro. The role of organizations like Nonviolent Peaceforce and others is very crucial to this end.”
Nonviolent Peaceforce has been in Mindanao, actively working to support the peace process since 2007. Nonviolent Peaceforce was initially invited by local civil society to foster efforts in improving human security.
This was specifically related to civilian protection and human rights issues using proactive and nonviolent methods. In 2010, Nonviolent Peaceforce had the privilege of joining the Civilian Protection Component (CPC) of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) at the invitation of the MILF and GPH Peace Panels.
The IMT is the mechanism charged with monitoring the ceasefire and overseeing humanitarian as well as human rights initiatives. As a member of the CPC, NP has focused on protecting the safety and security of non-combatants throughout the peace process, as well as the establishment of the Bangsamoro sub-state.
Nonviolent Peaceforce conveys its deepest respect and heartfelt congratulations to the parties, as well as the people of Mindanao for their perseverance and strength of spirit. This is not only a resounding triumph for Mindanao and the nation of the Philippines, but it is also a great model that can help many other countries facing similar issues. This serves as a brilliant reminder that dialogue, negotiation and dedication have the power to bring about real and lasting change. This is a real victory for peace.
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