Manila, November 13, 2009 — The Asia Foundation’s office in the Philippines announced it has accepted an invitation from the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to join the newly-formed International Contact Group (ICG). The ICG, agreed upon September 15, is tasked with supporting the next stage of peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the MILF to end conflict in Mindanao. The Asia Foundation will lend its reputation as a credible and reliable partner committed to forging a more peaceful, prosperous, and just Asia-Pacific region, as well as its 55-year track record of effective program design and management, trusted and extensive network of Asian partners, and dedicated staff.
The ICG, comprised of a select number of countries and international NGOs, will provide crucial support for the peace process. As stated in the ICG’s Framework Agreement, The Asia Foundation, as an INGO, will network with stakeholders in the negotiation, coordinate with the Facilitator (Malaysia) to provide research input, and give feedback and advice for the peace process.
For more than 30 years, The Asia Foundation has led successful programs in Mindanao and has identified peace and development there as among the highest priorities for the Philippines. Through its resident office in Manila, opened in 1954, and its satellite offices in Cotabato City and Zamboanga City, the Foundation has been working with local governments, civil society organizations, and private sector partners throughout Mindanao. The Foundation’s programs address issues related to conflict and development in Mindanao and building constructive relationships between Manila and Mindanao. Joining the ICG will enable the Foundation to play a direct, landmark role in the formal GRP-MILF peace process.
The Asia Foundation supports a variety of activities, drawing on its long-standing relationships with many actors throughout Mindanao, and utilizes its on-the-ground presence to work toward peace and development in the region. In cities from Zamboanga to Surigao and municipalities throughout Mindanao, the Foundation has helped to professionalize human resource management in government offices. Pioneering work with local partners on resolving clan feuds (rido) has led to the settlement of over 100 such conflicts, making communities more peaceful. The Foundation also supported private sector consultations among local chambers of commerce and a roadshow to Manila to devise how the private sector and its investments can contribute to peace.
The Asia Foundation supports local efforts to improve the prospects for peace in long-running sub-national conflicts. Our programs support the implementation of peace processes where there are formal peace agreements, such as in Nepal, Mindanao (Philippines), and Aceh (Indonesia). We also support peace-building efforts in other conflict-affected areas such as southern Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Timor-Leste. We work with governments, civil society, and conflict-affected communities to address the obstacles to peace, facilitate track two dialogues, and encourage key political reforms that will make peace more likely. Our programs also include efforts to reduce community-level conflicts through mediation and rapid response to impending crises.