UK politicians to share insights from 1998 Belfast Agreement for Mindanao peace process

October 4, 2011 9:34 pm 

By Gloria Jane Baylon

MANILA, Oct. 4 -— Following up on the United Kingdom’s advocacy of helping with the Mindanao peace process based on experiences that led to the 1998 Belfast Agreement, British lawmaker Paul Murphy on Thursday will address a public forum on “post-settlement and power–sharing in divided societies” at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) in nearby Makati City.

Murphy will speak on the “critical challenges legislators and government executives in Northern Ireland faced as they worked towards a systematic process of disarmament and demobilization, and an effective power sharing arrangement in the Northern Ireland Assembly.” “Whilst recognizing the differences between the situation in the Philippines and the United Kingdom, we believe that there are some significant lessons from the Northern Ireland peace process that can be applied in Muslim Mindanao,” said British Ambassador Stephen Lillie of the forthcoming forum.

The decades-long conflict in Northern Ireland was eventually politically settled through the 1998 covenant, which is also known as the “Good Friday Agreement.”

This was announced by the U.K. embassy in Manila, which is a member of the International Contact Group (ICG) of the drawn-out Mindanao peace process.

The British Embassy in Manila organized the forum in cooperation with the AIM Center for Development Management (AIM CDM), TeaM Energy Center for Bridging Leadership, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), and International Alert.

According to the embassy, the forum will tackle the processes that led to the signing of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and the status of the covenant more than 20 years after it was signed in Belfast.

A panel of reactors, headed by Catholic priest and peace process consultant, Fr. Eliseo Mercado, “will reflect on a potential decommissioning, devolution, and power-sharing process that may be achieved in the Philippine context,” according to the embassy.

"In the spirit of friendship and cooperation between our two countries, we have since 2008 undertaken a program of activities to share the experiences of the peace process in Northern Ireland. Paul Murphy’s visit is the latest in a series of visits and exchanges between those involved in the Mindanao peace process and UK experts,” said Lillie.

As former Cabinet Minister responsible for Northern Ireland, Murphy “is well qualified to speak not only on how the historic Good Friday agreement was achieved, but also on how implementation was made possible despite continuing political and security challenges. These are very relevant issues here in the Philippines,” said Lillie.

Murphy visited Davao on Monday to meet with the Bishops Ulama Conference, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) negotiating panel, Mindanao-based civil society organizations, business leaders and local government officials.

In Manila, he will also visit government officials, including those involved in the peace process and security, and key politicians.

International Alert, which has established an office in the Philippines, is a UK-based non-governmental human rights and peace building organization that works to build sustainable peace in countries and communities affected by violent conflict.

AIM is a pioneer in international management education in Asia. It is committed to making a difference in promoting the sustainable development of Asian societies by developing professional, entrepreneurial, and socially responsible leaders and managers.

The forum is co-sponsored as part of the institution’s ‘Development-at-Work’ series aimed at creating a venue for intelligent exchange among known experts in development issues and AIM students. (PNA)

DCT/GJB

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