Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to thank the Asian Mediation Association for inviting me to address this distinguished audience. I warmly welcome this conference and its aims to further the knowledge and professionalism of mediation activities.
Asia can be described as a divided continent in terms of peace and security. Some parts are extremely prosperous and stable, but there are unfortunately also areas with ongoing conflicts. My intention today is to speak about the challenges and opportunities of peace mediation in Asia and I will discuss of three cases - examples of the successes and the failures of peace mediation in Asia.
I will begin with the successful mediation case from Aceh, Indonesia, where we have witnessed four encouragingly successful years after the signing of the peace agreement in August 2005 in Finland. In other places, there remain severe challenges. Burma/Myanmar is still very much an unwritten page in terms of mediation. It is of vital importance that the international community takes a close look at the situation and actively seeks for solutions. I would also like to express my profound concern over the situation in Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the long civil war.
In summing I will introduce few principles from my experience hoping that they trigger thinking and discussion during this conference and beyond.
There has been many analysis and explanations on the success of the Aceh peace process. One of the most common explanations has been that the tsunami that hit Aceh with its tragic consequences was the key factor behind the peace. Of course the effects of this traumatic incident cannot be underestimated, but even before the tsunami contacts had been established between the parties. The issue was introduced to me in late 2004.
In January 2005, the newly elected Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement, GAM, met in Helsinki to talk about the conflict that had lasted for almost 30 years. From the beginning of the talks I had a feeling that I was surrounded by people who realized that they had in their hands the power to stop further suffering of the Acehnese people. During the negotiations trust and confidence were gained gradually. Our starting point of the negotiations was “A peaceful solution with dignity for all.” We had an extremely crucial principle in the Aceh negotiations that “nothing is agreed before everything is agreed”. This meant that neither party could claim any victories during the process and use media to communicate their constituencies how successful they had been in the negotiations. All the agreements were included in the Memorandum of Understanding and published only in the end. This gave peace for the negotiators to work. I admired the discipline of both parties in this regard.
1 Governing of Aceh
1.1 Law on the Governing of Aceh
b) International agreements entered into by the Government of Indonesia which relate to matters of special interest to Aceh will be entered into in consultation with and with the consent of the legislature of Aceh.
1.1.3 The name of Aceh and the titles of senior elected officials will be determined by the legislature of Aceh after the next elections.
1.1.4 The borders of Aceh correspond to the borders as of 1 July 1956.
1.1.5 Aceh has the right to use regional symbols including a flag, a crest and a hymn.
1.1.6 Kanun Aceh will be re-established for Aceh respecting the historical traditions and customs of the people of Aceh and reflecting contemporary legal requirements of Aceh.
1.1.7 The institution of Wali Nanggroe with all its ceremonial attributes and entitlements will be established.
1.2 Political participation
1.2.4 Until 2009 the legislature of Aceh will not be entitled to enact any laws without the consent of the head of the Aceh administration.
1.2.5 All Acehnese residents will be issued new conventional identity cards prior to the elections of April 2006.
1.2.6 Full participation of all Acehnese people in local and national elections will be guaranteed in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia.
1.2.8 There will be full transparency in campaign funds.
1.3.1 Aceh has the right to raise funds with external loans. Aceh has the right to set interest rates beyond that set by the Central Bank of the Republic of Indonesia.
1.3.2 Aceh has the right to set and raise taxes to fund official internal activities. Aceh has the right to conduct trade and business internally and internationally and to seek foreign direct investment and tourism to Aceh.
1.3.5 Aceh conducts the development and administration of all seaports and airports within the territory of Aceh.
1.3.6 Aceh will enjoy free trade with all other parts of the Republic of Indonesia unhindered by taxes, tariffs or other restrictions.
1.3.7 Aceh will enjoy direct and unhindered access to foreign countries, by sea and air.
1.3.9 GAM will nominate representatives to participate fully at all levels in the commission established to conduct the post-tsunami reconstruction (BRR).
1.4 Rule of law
1.4.1 The separation of powers between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary will be recognised.
1.4.3 An independent and impartial court system, including a court of appeals, will be established for Aceh within the judicial system of the Republic of Indonesia.
2 Human rights
2.1 GoI will adhere to the United Nations International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
3 Amnesty and reintegration into society
3.2 Reintegration into society
3.2.6 The authorities of Aceh and GoI will establish a joint Claims Settlement Commission
to deal with unmet claims.
3.2.7 GAM combatants will have the right to seek employment in the organic police and organic military forces in Aceh without discrimination and in conformity with national standards.
4 Security arrangements
4.1 All acts of violence between the parties will end latest at the time of the signing of
4.6 The relocation of non-organic military and non-organic police forces will begin on 15 September 2005 and will be executed in four stages in parallel with the GAM decommissioning immediately after each stage has been verified by the AMM, and concluded by 31 December 2005.
4.12 Members of the Aceh organic police force will receive special training in Aceh and overseas with emphasis on respect for human rights.
5 Establishment of the Aceh Monitoring Mission
5.3 A Status of Mission Agreement (SoMA) between GoI and the European Union will be signed after this MoU has been signed. The SoMA defines the status, privileges and immunities of the AMM and its members. ASEAN contributing countries which have been invited by GoI will confirm in writing their acceptance of and compliance with the SoMA.
5.4 GoI will give all its support for the carrying out of the mandate of the AMM. To this end, GoI will write a letter to the European Union and ASEAN contributing countries expressing its commitment and support to the AMM.
5.5 GAM will give all its support for the carrying out of the mandate of the AMM. To this end, GAM will write a letter to the European Union and ASEAN contributing countries expressing its commitment and support to the AMM.
5.6 The parties commit themselves to provide AMM with secure, safe and stable working conditions and pledge their full cooperation with the AMM.
5.7 Monitors will have unrestricted freedom of movement in Aceh. Only those tasks which are within the provisions of the MoU will be accepted by the AMM. Parties do not have a veto over the actions or control of the AMM operations.
5.8 GoI is responsible for the security of all AMM personnel in Indonesia. The mission personnel do not carry arms. The Head of Monitoring Mission may however decide on an exceptional basis that a patrol will not be escorted by GoI security forces. In that
case, GoI will be informed and the GoI will not assume responsibility for the security of this patrol.
5.9 GoI will provide weapons collection points and support mobile weapons collection teams in collaboration with GAM.
5.11 AMM reports to the Head of Monitoring Mission who will provide regular reports to the parties and to others as required, as well as to a designated person or office in the European Union and ASEAN contributing countries.
5.12 Upon signature of this MoU each party will appoint a senior representative to deal with all matters related to the implementation of this MoU with the Head of Monitoring Mission.
5.13 The parties commit themselves to a notification responsibility procedure to the AMM, including military and reconstruction issues.
5.14 GoI will authorise appropriate measures regarding emergency medical service and hospitalisation for AMM personnel.
5.15 In order to facilitate transparency, GoI will allow full access for the representatives ofnational and international media to Aceh.
It is essential to understand that trust can only be created if one party sees the other keeping its promises and to do as was agreed. I made it clear to both parties that if genuine peace is the goal; both sides have to be prepared to make concessions. Looking back at the situation, it is evident that both sides actually gained much more than they had to give up.
I was assisted in the Aceh peace negotiations by a non-governmental organization called the Crisis Management Initiative, CMI, which I established after my Presidency in 2000. CMI’s efforts would not have been possible without a solid backing from the international community. The Aceh peace agreement would not have been possible without the combined efforts of many different actors: the European Union and ASEAN, several supporting governments, local civil society, research organisations and international NGOs whose expertise CMI used in several occasions. The official, Track One diplomacy, while not in the forefront in the negotiation process, provided invaluable support during the negotiations, and emerged as the leading track during the peace implementation phase.
The peace process in Aceh has also shown how important it is that a country’s political leadership is committed to finding a solution to an internal conflict. Joint efforts by the political leadership in Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement resulted in a peace agreement. However, it was only a start. Social and economic reforms can only progress if both negotiating parties and the population at large are committed to them in the long term. This year we witnessed relatively peaceful elections which allowed local party participation for the first time in Indonesia. Partai Aceh, the party born as a successor party of Free Aceh Movement, won 43 per cent of votes. Now it is up to them to lead the work on building a prosperous Aceh within Indonesia.
In 2005 the parties confirmed their commitment to a peaceful, comprehensive and sustainable solution to the conflict in Aceh with dignity for all. During the last four years Aceh has clearly stepped out of the wheel of violence. But we should not fool ourselves – the commitment to peace means hard choices every day. The often quoted World Bank study notes that “a country coming out of civil war has a 50 percent chance of relapsing into conflict in the first five years of peace”. I do not want to see Aceh as a part of those statistics. What makes me particularly happy is the active civil society in Aceh that has been of vital importance in the peace building and the democratisation processes. It is my sincere hope that the Acehnese civil society will get the support it needs from the international community.
Now I would like to move on to Burma/Myanmar which, as mentioned, is in quite a different phase of development. Even though I’m very well aware of the discussion and all emotions related to the country’s name, in this speech, I will use the present official name of the country, Myanmar.
The suppression of the Saffron Revolution by the government, the devastating effects of the Cyclone Nargis, the exodus of the Rohingya people, and the famine in the Chin State are all tragedies that have touched the international community. Sympathy towards the people of Myanmar, together with a principled conviction that the people of the country have the right to a state that could be an instrument for their wellbeing are the two driving forces of the international communities‘ action relating to Myanmar.
This sympathy and principle provide a good starting point, but in order to contribute to positive outcomes, the international community has to have a well thought, clear strategy to follow. My thinking on Myanmar is based on four strategic cornerstones:
1. Firstly, I think with all relevant forces, including the government, is necessary regardless of whether we consider these forces are legitimate or not. Peace must be made with the parties that can deliver it. The dialogue is important, but it should not be seen as a reward for a good behaviour, but Many countries find cooperation with undemocratic regimes difficult as these regimes do not really represent the nation and its people. Some even say that we should not endorse the illegitimate government in Myanmar by engaging them and thus acting as if they were the legitimate government.
I do not agree with this line of argumentation.
The fact that Myanmar is in the middle of several transition processes that the government is essentially in control of, makes dialogue with the government even more important. At the time of generational transition of the leadership, at the time of at least a fundamental declaratory political system transition, and at the time when most probably the majority of cabinet ministers are about to change within a year, there could be opportunities that should be explored. Since the government can do a lot to help its people - or harm them, if they so choose – it is a meaningful actor that needs to be taken into account.
2. Secondly, we should be willing to endorse and support dialogue between the government and the groups that have so far remained outside the constitutional process, regardless of whose initiative such dialogue is.
We should not only talk to the government and other relevant parties, but we should help reconciliation between relevant political forces, the government and the opposition, including the ethno-national groups. This does not mean jumping into the pocket of the government. On the contrary, we should naturally also support progressive initiatives of the opposition. The focus of our attention should not be on “who does”, but on “what is being done”. In order to alleviate the suffering of the people and to help the population, we should actively identify opportunities that each of the transition processes entails, instead of just focusing on whether a certain transition process is legitimate or not, or whether it will bring about perfect solutions or only small steps in the right direction.
3. Thirdly, in addition to supporting processes outside the government’s constitutional framework, supporting progressive developments inside the government’s constitutional setting is needed. This would not constitute supporting or endorsing all the aspects of the government constitution, but just some. In a study made by the Crisis Management Initiative for the European Commission on the constitutional quarrels in Myanmar, we discovered that many of concerns of the opposition about the constitution were related to the implementation of the constitution, rather than to the text of the constitution. To contribute to the solution of the problem of implementing promised democratic openings, more sophisticated diplomatic tools needs to be developed. The time of all-out-support or all-out-opposition as strategic options is over.
Dear friends, I am not a naïve person and I know that the political practice and implementation of the Constitution could turn out differently than central figures of the government have described. But instead of just being a realist who predicts events accurately, I want to seek opportunities to contribute to the progress, and ways to support the government’s own progressive initiatives in a democratic spirit.
4. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, addressing the needs of the people requires effective
In the course of the Sri Lankan conflict, my Sri Lankan friends have kept me informed about the situation and I have raised the issue in many of my discussions. Last week I met the Secretary General of the UN, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, who visited Sri Lanka just before our meeting, and discussed what can be done. Sri Lanka has suffered a devastating civil war for the past 25 years.
During the recent phase of the conflict, the Sri Lankan government and military were pushing for a military solution and final victory. It seems that to some degree they have reached their goal.
This, however, cannot be considered as an end state or an end of the conflict. In order to secure what the government may have succeeded militarily, they have to take the needs and demands of the Tamil population into consideration. They have to start a reconciliation process where the Tamils are treated equally as citizens of Sri Lankan state, not as the defeated party of the civil war. Reintegration of the Tamil minority into the society is of utmost importance. Otherwise the situation will risk to slide back to armed struggle or terrorist attacks as we have seen previously. There is a need for a dialogue at all levels of the society and it is vital that the rights of all groups and every individual are respected.
One should not forget the alarming situation of the civilians in Sri Lanka. There is a huge need for humanitarian aid as there are up to 300 000 internally displaced persons that have had to leave their homes due to the fighting. International community has and is pushing the government of Sri Lanka to manage the situation which had also been described to be violating many international conventions. The UN and other agencies should be given unrestricted access to the IDP camps.
In Sri Lanka, even though the guns are silenced, there is a long path to follow to peace. Sri Lanka needs all our support.
To summarise, I would like to raise few points that I consider to be important in peace mediation.
My first point concerns context: The role of a mediator must be understood as being only one part of a peace process. One can compare the role of a Mediator to that of a midwife: we can assist the parties to come to a peace agreement, but the child – peace – is owned by the parties. Sometimes such a process can take years. The conditions for peace need to be in place.
It should also be acknowledged that. Post conflict reconciliation is an equally vital part of the peace process. The hard work only begins after a peace agreement has been signed.
I would strongly argue that every peace process is This, however, is not to say that we could not learn from past peace processes. In fact I believe that to be courageous and to embark on the path of peacemaking. I believe Namibian peace process inspired South Africans to begin the process of democratic change.
My point concerns values. People consistently ask me what a good mediator is. As each conflict and each mediator is unique, this is a question that is not easy to answer. The answer is: it depends. The These values come from our upbringing and our beliefs, some of which maybe culturally bound, but many of which are universal. An important question is how to reconcile the values and principles of justice with those of peace. are not and
Nevertheless, we have seen specific cases, where mediators face very real dilemmas concerning the scope of peace agreements and their relation to international law. My own personal view is based on my experience as a mediator not as a jurist. And a mediator is not a prosecutor. Certainly no blanket amnesties for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity are acceptable but local solutions must be allowed to emerge and develop to allow reconciliation.
Peace mediation we very often deal with internal conflicts. Therefore the very principle of sovereignty is usually at stake. In the case of Aceh, Indonesian government turned to CMI instead of United Nations because they did not want to internationalise the conflict and regarded it as an internal issue.
I would like us to take a look at the future. Today, mediation is usually carried out by seasoned and experienced practitioners. We must now cultivate the future generation of peace-makers. Whilst my generation has practiced mediation more as an art, we should support its systematization, based on the understanding of needs. I know from my experience that a mediation process has many and in most crucial times technical aspects that the mediator alone cannot manage him or herself. The more readily available and tailored instruments and expertise we have, the more efficient we are. Mediation is a skill. There are outstanding young professionals in this field whom we need to mentor and give them an opportunity to practice, learn and build capacity.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am seriously concerned about the large number of conflicts that the international community has not solved. We should never accept and allow that some conflicts remain frozen forever, and in consequence people suffer. We have to be result oriented. Each unresolved conflict is to be seen as a vital challenge. We must, together, learn from our experiences: we need to reflect on our past efforts and capture them in a way that they can be easily shared and we need to continuously improve ourselves. Peace-making is a process of constant learning. Therefore the international community needs to invest in peace-making - this means more resources and more commitment.
No excuses should be accepted and we should demand that our political leaders act accordingly.
I thank you.