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Roundtable on 'Enhancing Global and Regional Mechanisms for Conflict Management and Conflict Resolution'

Date: 15 April 2013 (Monday)

Venue: RSIS, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Nanyang Avenue, Block S4, Level B4, Seminar Room 5, Nanyang Avenue, Singapore 639798

Time: 9.30am – 1.30pm (Lunch will be served from 12.30-1.30pm)

Speaker: 

  • Professor Ibrahim Gambari, Distinguished Visiting Fellow, RSIS; and former Joint Special Representative of the Africa Union/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).

Panellists:

  • Dr Jusuf Kalla, former Vice President of Indonesia.
  • Associate Professor Mely Caballero-Anthony, Head of the RSIS Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies.
  • Mr Marc Probst, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue.

 

Introduction

The end of the Cold War has brought new imperatives for conflict management and resolution into the international system. The root causes of conflicts have become more complex: there are myriad actors pursuing varying goals, and the effects of conflicts are increasingly transnational in nature.

While the UN and regional organisations have developed more robust frameworks for civilian protection based on respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law, agreeing on collective responsibility, multilateral action and global solidarity in the context of a number of conflicts globally remains highly challenging. There is thus a need to examine the following: In what ways can we enhance existing mechanisms? Are new frameworks and policy options needed? What roles do international, regional, national and local actors play, and how can divergent aims be reconciled? What efforts can better support mediation efforts? These questions were the focus of the Roundtable.

 

Context and challenges of conflict management and resolution
Presentation by Prof. Ibrahim Gambari

 

The concept of collective security that the UN embraces is manifested in the form of common responses in the spirit of global solidarity to threats to peace and security that occur worldwide. With 193 member states, the organisation thus plays a major role in efforts towards peaceful resolution of a number of conflicts across the world. The UN has had a number of successes in negotiating and attaining peace. Nevertheless, with the nature of conflicts becoming increasingly more complex, a review of current UN strategies in producing negotiated and durable peaceful solutions to conflicts is needed. 

A critical first step would be to increase the UN’s capacity to understand, and address, the root causes of the conflicts in question. Past failures in the UN’s mediation efforts are largely attributed to the zero-sum game attitude adopted by conflicting parties as well as the one-size-fits-all approach pursued by the UN. Since each conflict is unique, a well-tailored solution specifically designed for a particular conflict would render a higher probability of success.

Producing sound analyses of conflicts have become increasingly difficult with the presence of interconnected state and non-state actors that have differing agenda and interests. Furthermore, many interlinked determinants – such as domestic variables, economic and social factors, political will as well as external dynamics – need to be incorporated into and accounted for in peace processes. It is imperative therefore that mediators are adequately equipped with the knowledge and insight to help them understand the conflicts they are dealing with. 

Another challenge to conflict resolution is in the management of spoilers. Spoilers deliberately position themselves as stumbling blocks to peace processes, and the right strategies aimed at altering their behaviours are critical to the success of peace efforts. Stedman in his 1997 article on ‘Spoiler problems in peace processes’ proposes several types of approaches to spoilers: inducement, socialisation and coercion. Each type of approach, when implemented in the UN’s past peace efforts, has produced different results in different conflicts. This further testifies to the need for a high degree of familiarity with the conflicts at hand if negotiators are to be able to formulate the best strategies. 

At the regional level, the African Union (AU) has been actively involved in collective responses to conflicts. The AU possesses the most developed instruments for conflict management, as evidenced by the development of the African Standby Force, the deployment of a peacekeeping and peace-enforcement mission in Somalia, a joint AU/UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur and the Panel of the Wise. This stands in contrast to ASEAN, where the idea of developing a regional peacekeeping capability is met with perceptible trepidation. 

The framework that global and regional peacemakers need to observe in peace processes is the critical nexus between peace, security, development and human rights. The inextricable link between peace and development calls for comprehensive solutions that address these goals concomitantly. However, implementing this principle often faces significant challenges as allocation of resources tend to favour peace and security rather than development. Additionally, there is a need to incorporate the politics of inclusion in peacemaking efforts as the root causes of conflicts are often found in strong resentment over power-sharing and wealth inequality, as well as a dysfunctional law and justice system. 

The UN’s mediation efforts in Cyprus, Myanmar and Darfur are reflective of the difficulties faced in conflict management and resolution. In Cyprus, the prolonged conflict between Greek and Turkish Cypriots that has been going on since 1963 is attributed to the lack of willingness and urgency on the part of the conflicting parties to come to a peaceful agreement. Mediation efforts in Myanmar were marred by distrust and lack of confidence between the government and the opposition. The protracted warfare in Darfur is partly due to the presence of multiple armed groups who lack the willingness to be part of ongoing peace processes. 

Against this backdrop, it is essential for global and regional institutions to improve their existing conflict management and resolution mechanisms. There is a need for an increase in the number of competent and knowledgeable mediators and support teams, sufficient and sustainable resources, better capability to balance peace agreements and accountability measures, women’s participation in negotiations, appropriate exercises of leverage in supporting peacemaking and conflict prevention, and good cohesion among mediators and the UN’s good offices. 

 

Panel discussion 
With Dr Jusuf Kalla, Associate Professor Mely Caballero-Anthony and Mr Marc Probst

The significance of mediation efforts in bringing conflicts to a peaceful end had been evident in Aceh, Poso and Ambon. In Poso and Ambon, peace agreements were made possible by the incorporation of the power sharing principle. In Aceh, the 30-year insurgency movement finally came to an end with the signing of the Helsinki peace accord between the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, or GAM) and the Indonesian government in 2005. The negotiation processes were facilitated by former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari through his non-governmental organisation (NGO), Crisis Management Initiative (CMI). 

The recent emergence of NGOs in conflict resolution efforts across the world has provided alternatives, allowing for informal mechanisms to play a part in otherwise formal state-initiated peace settlements. Private actors offer several advantages, including, but not limited to, their flexibility in accessing areas off-limits to government officials and their capability in preparing the ground for fruitful negotiations, building trust among conflicting parties as well as considering and formulating negotiated segments. The proliferation of private actors and the resulting possibility of competition and duplication of efforts, however, warrant joint consultative mechanisms among the different institutions so as to ensure effective coordinated approaches. 

Another key determinant in negotiation processes is the level of unity among belligerent parties. In contrast to Aceh, Poso and Ambon, where the parties behind the conflicts were more united, the situations in southern Thailand and southern Philippines continue to remain turbulent as a result of highly factionalised rebel groups. Tenuous relationships among these groups lead to difficulties in identifying the most important and influential actor(s) with which to negotiate peace settlements. Reaching an agreement with certain groups does not necessarily guarantee peace because breakaway groups may undermine the agreement by independently starting fresh rounds of violence. 

Although there are numerous intra-state conflicts taking place in Southeast Asia, ASEAN’s mechanisms for conflict management and resolution are still at early stages of development. In the wake of the 1997 economic crisis and the 1999 East Timor independence, ASEAN made the unprecedented move of looking at pro-active measures for conflict prevention, manifested in the ASEAN Political-Security Community Blueprint and the formulation of ASEAN Charter. The ASEAN Charter provides the basis for ASEAN’s active engagement with conflict resolution efforts and it has special provisions for the protection of human rights as well as the protection of women and children. ASEAN’s initiative is further buttressed by the establishment of the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation which aims to promote a culture of peace in the region. 

The apparent positive initiatives notwithstanding, some deficiencies still hinder ASEAN’s progress into a well-developed regional mechanism for conflict resolution. In the case of the Cambodia-Thailand dispute in 2011 for example, the confidence that the UN gave to ASEAN by referring the case back to the regional organisation, as well as the call by the International Court of Justice to ASEAN to monitor troop withdrawal at a provisional demilitarised zone, failed to bring peace to the affected area. Similarly, the imperative of peace and security (in the name of enhancing development) is often used as a pretext to enact order and impose human rights restrictions. Such moves and their effects could undermine the entire peace effort. Another challenge that needs to be addressed is the extent of the mandate given to the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation. Extending the scope of work to member states’ domestic affairs as well as allowing them to supervise the work of the institution might potentially be seen as interference. The presence of normative champions within ASEAN who would be able to keep the momentum going and push the conflict management and resolution agenda forward is therefore critical. 

 

Discussion 

Current global and regional mechanisms for conflict management and resolution face a number of challenges. As seen in Sudan, Myanmar and southern Thailand, a deep understanding of the grievances is critical in mediation efforts. With many of the issues rooted in cultural identity and definitions of citizenship, cultural sensitivity and excellent local knowledge need to become inseparable parts of conflict analyses and peacemaking strategies. Additionally, it is imperative that peacemakers and negotiators remain impartial throughout the peace process. Impartiality is the currency in negotiations, and the credibility and legitimacy of mediators could come under question if their impartiality were compromised. It is also essential for global and regional peace mechanisms to preserve their impartiality in order to stay relevant in peace processes. 

Monitoring of the implementation of peace agreements is another important challenge in ensuring sustainable peace. Ethnic and religious conflicts emerging in the aftermath of national reconciliation in Myanmar could be attributed to a failure in broadening the mandate for promotion of human rights and democracy to the wider community. The continuation of conflict despite the willingness of the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) to enter into negotiations may be a result of the government’s shortcoming in delivering its promises. The reconciliation may further be undermined by the KIO’s unrealistic demands. An intermediary who oversees the progress of post-peacemaking therefore plays a significant role in assuring continuing peace. 

Lastly, regional and global peacemaking institutions need to improve their capability and effectiveness in addressing the interconnectedness between peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. Regardless of the fact that peace and justice cannot survive without development, and vice versa, peacebuilding remains a difficult challenge. The UN Peacebuilding Commission, for example, has been deemed to fail to deliver tangible results. Developed countries have also tended to channel their financial resources to bilateral relationships instead of enhancing the capacity of regional and global institutions in advocating peacebuilding. 

In conclusion, the many real challenges in peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts necessitate the strengthening and improvement of existing mechanisms for conflict management. Fostering coordinated responses from the many different peacemakers in certain conflicts, acquiring excellent knowledge of the conflicts and ensuring impartiality are key to global and regional efforts to resolve conflicts. 

 

 

 

About the Speaker

Ibrahim A. Gambari is Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University. He was previously the Joint Special Representative of the Africa Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), the world's largest international peace-keeping operation. In July 2011, he was designated Joint Chief Mediator, ad interim, in-charge of the ongoing negotiations between the Government of Sudan and the Darfur opposition movements.

Professor Gambari has held several leadership positions including Chairman of the UN Special Committee Against Apartheid (1990-1994), Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Africa (1999-2005), Resident Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the UN Mission to Angola (2002-2003), and Under-Secretary-General of the UN Department of Political Affairs (2005-2007). In the latter position, he served as the Special Envoy on Cyprus, Zimbabwe and Myanmar. He was also Special Adviser on the Iraq Compact and Other Issues (2007-2009).

Before joining the UN, he served his country as Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN (1990-1999). He was also Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria (1984-1985).

Click here for the roundtable programme.
 

 

About the panellists

Dr Jusuf Kalla was the tenth Vice President of Indonesia and Chairman of the Golkar Party for the period 2004–2009. When his term as Vice-President ended, Dr Kalla was appointed Chairman of the Indonesian Red Cross (Palang Merah Indonesia, PMI) for the period 2009–2014.

While serving as the Coordinating Minister of People’s Welfare in President Megawati Sukarnoputri’s administration in 2001, Dr Kalla acted as mediator in several of Indonesia’s communal conflicts such as those between Christians and Muslims in Poso in Central Sulawesi and in Maluku Province. Efforts at peace mediation resulted in the Malino I Accord (December 2001) and Malino II Accord (February 2002) respectively. In both peace talks, Dr Kalla was part of the government delegation which consisted of high-level Jakarta-, provincial- and district-level officials. He is also instrumental in developing plans for talks. 

Dr Jusuf Kalla, as Vice-President in Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s administration, was also instrumental in bringing about an end to the conflict in Aceh. Although he did not partake in direct negotiations, he was in charge of assembling the team that negotiated with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and also provided them directives throughout the negotiation process. The result was the signing in Helsinki of the 15 August 2005 peace agreement between the Government of Indonesia and the GAM. 

In view of his experience in conflict management and resolution, in August 2012, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono appointed Dr Jusuf Kalla as Indonesia’s special envoy to Myanmar in the conflict between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims.
 

Dr Mely Caballero-Anthony is Associate Professor and Head of the RSIS Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Until May 2012, she served as Director of External Relations (ASEAN Political and Security Community) at the ASEAN Secretariat. She is also a member of the UN Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters, a member of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Agenda Council on Conflict Prevention and Secretary-General of the Consortium of Non-Traditional Security Studies in Asia (NTS-Asia).

Dr Anthony’s research interests include regionalism and regional security in the Asia-Pacific, multilateral security cooperation, politics and international relations in ASEAN, conflict prevention and management, as well as human security. She has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals on a broad range of security issues in the Asia-Pacific. Her latest publications, both single-authored and co-edited, include: ‘The Responsibility to Protect in Southeast Asia: Opening Up Spaces for Advancing Human Security’ (Pacific Review, 2012), ‘ASEAN and Climate Change: Building Resilience through Regional Initiative’ (Routledge, 2012), Energy and Non-Traditional Security (NTS) in Asia and Rethinking Energy Security in Asia: A Non-Traditional View of Human Security (both Springer, 2012).

Dr Anthony is a member of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (CSCAP) Study Group on the Responsibility to Protect, and also a member of the International Advisory Board of the Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (APCR2P), and the Global Consortium on Security Transformation (GCST). Her current research focus takes on the broad theme of Governance and Non-traditional Security issues. She is also working on a project on Revisiting Regionalism in Asia.
 

Mr Marc Probst is Project Manager with the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD Centre) where he is in charge of designing, leading and managing mediation projects and advising on peace processes in the region. The HD Centre is one of the world's leading conflict mediation organisations. Since 1999, the HD Centre has been helping to prevent and resolve armed conflict, and to alleviate the suffering of those affected by violence. Its mission is to use the tools of private diplomacy to expand the space for the non-violent resolution of armed conflict.


Posted on: 15/4/2013 9:30:00 AM  |  Topic: Internal and Cross-Border Conflict


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