The path to peace in Bangsamoro

Signing of the peace treaty
President Aquino and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (center) applaud as peace panel chairs exchange copies of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. Teresita Quintos-Deles stands on the right. Photo: LYN RILLON

In early 2014, following 17 years of stop-start negotiations and 150,000 deaths over four decades, the government of the Philippines and the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed a historic peace agreement recognizing the new autonomous Bangsamoro region. For Teresita Quintos Deles, whose life’s work has centred on these peace efforts, it signified the start of a new era for her country.

"No more war. No more children scampering for safety. No more evacuees. No more lost school days or school months. No more injustice. No more mis-governance. No more poverty. No more fear and no more want," Deles said to reporters at the signing. "We are all tired of it.”

Asia remains home to some of the world’s longest-running conflicts, with over 130 million people in in the region living in conflict-affected areas. It is against this backdrop that UNDP’s Asia-Pacific Regional Centre launched the N-Peace network in 2010, connecting more than 800 individuals working to advance women, peace and security issues in the region.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Only 3% of signatories of major peace accords over the last 20 years have been women
  • There has never been a woman appointed chief or lead mediator in UN-sponsored peace talks.
  • The 2011 Oslo Joint Statement (signed by both the Philippines Government and the MILF after peace talks in Oslo) included 33% women signatories and 35% women delegation participants.
  • The conflict in Mindanao, which first began in the 1960s has killed about 150,000 people.
  • Since 2000, almost 3 million people have been displaced as a result of violence in Mindanao.

The work of N-Peace to support women’s leadership and participation in peace processes has been essential for ensuring women are recognized as positive agents of peace and not only as victims. Teresita, who was recognized with an N-Peace award in 2012, is one of a number of women who have made important contributions over the years to the Philippines’ peace process.

Through the annual N-Peace Awards campaign, the network addresses the lack of recognition that exists for the roles women peacebuilders play. The N-Peace Awards provide an opportunity each year to shine a light on the many ways women throughout Asia are building peace and transforming their communities.

Since the adoption of a United Nations Security Council resolution 14 years ago, women and women’s priorities remain poorly represented in peace processes around the world. The current participation statistics are startling, with less than 8 per cent of peace process participants and only 3 per cent of peace accord signatories being women.

Fellow N-Peace Awardee Irene Santiago  is another Filipina who has persistently called for more women’s voices to be heard throughout the long and often interrupted peace negotiations.

 “At the signing of the peace agreement at Malacanan Palace, I was elated but I couldn't stop thinking also about the long road ahead. For those of us who work on women’s rights, it is even more important to press on and continue to be vigilant.   Our issues are so easily set aside in the heat of the political maneuvering that follows the signing of any agreement,” Santiago said.

In recognizing and strengthening the capacity of women in conflict and post-conflict affected communities throughout Asia, N-Peace aims to see many more women like Irene and Teresita take leading roles and fully participate in building peace and security in their countries.

As Irene says, “Recognition for our work, like the N-Peace awards, makes visible the significance of gender in the resolution of deadly conflict but, more importantly, in improving the quality of peace.”

Our work with women peacebuilders
The N-Peace Network

N-Peace is a multi-country network of peace advocates in Asia seeking to advance Women, Peace & Security (WPS) issues. It supports women’s leadership for conflict prevention, resolution and peace building, and promotes the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325, and related resolutions, at regional, national and community levels.

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