INDIA (NAGALAND): Growing concern over the future of the peace process after the death of the NSCN-IM leader
The death of the leader and founding member of the armed group NSCN.IM, Isak Chishi Swu, has led to growing concerns over the future of the peace process between the Indian Government and the possibility that the preliminary peace agreement reached in August 2015 may translate into a final peace agreement. Swu, aged 84, was in hospital in Delhi. Although Swu had been unwell since June the previous year, in August 2015 he signed the peace agreement. This fact was highlighted by members of the Indian Government in an attempt to highlight its legitimacy and potential divisions between Naga organisations in relation to the agreement, since Swu was a decisive figure and, in his absence, these divisions might grow. After Swu’s death, Kholi Konyak was appointed as the new president of NSCN-IM. (The Wire, 30/6/16)
ISRAEL – PALESTINE: International conference organized by France to spur the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations concludes with low expectations
Senior representatives of 29 countries and international organizations - including the EU and the UN - met in Paris on June 3 as part of the French-led initiative to relaunch the peace process between Palestinians and Israelis, which has been on hold since April 2014. The final declaration, which reflected the minimum common denominator of the participants, repeated that the two-state solution is the only way to achieve lasting peace, but no timetable was established for talks. The Paris document announced that a new international conference would be organized before the end of the year. Some of the media stressed that the French initiative to reactivate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process had initially pursued a much more specific approach that would involve the definition of parameters, mechanisms and a timetable for the achievement of objectives, which would all be included in a UN Security Council resolution. However, Paris ran into US resistance and Israeli hostility, and the initial ambition of the proposal was watered down. Analysts also noted that the presence of US Secretary of State John Kerry at the international conference could be taken to mean that Washington did not see the French initiative as a threat to its interests, but it was not necessarily backing the French Government’s plan. At the same time, the United States continued to discuss the possibility of presenting its own plan before the end of Barack Obama's term in January 2017, while Israel and Egypt have continued their contacts to establish a parallel course of action that would presumably be based on the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu questioned the French initiative and insisted that only direct talks between Palestinians and Israelis, and not international conferences, would be able to resolve the differences. However, the PA representative, Saeb Erekat, welcomed the French proposal as an important step towards resolving the conflict. At the end of June, the Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union – the 28 foreign ministers of the EU countries - gave their support to the French initiative. (Le Monde, 03/06/16; Al-Jazeera and Wall Street Journal, 05/06/16; Haaretz, 20/06/16)
MYANMAR: Women organisations call for greater participation in the peace process
A women’s conference is held in Naypyidaw, the country’s capital, to call for greater participation of women in the peace process and to make recommendations at the Peace Conference that is due to take place in August. The conference was convened by the Alliance for Gender Inclusion in the Peace Process (AGIPP) and the UN Women and counted with the participation of several women organisations and female MPs and politicians. Women groups have demanded a quota system to ensure 30% is reserved for women and to ensure an increased female political leadership. Besides conveying their demands to the Peace Conference where political and security issues will be discussed within the framework of the peace process, women organisations have also highlighted that they will contact the civil society forum for this very same reason; at this forum there are plans for discussing social, economic, environmental and educational issues, as well as issues relating to the return of refugees. In parallel, it is important to note that the eight opposition groups that signed the national ceasefire agreement met in Thailand to discuss the peace agenda and to evaluate the negotiations, although they did not issue an official statement. On the other hand, it is also important to mention that a Myanmar government delegation would have held contacts with three of the armed opposition groups that were excluded from the ceasefire agreement, i.e. the TNLA, AA and MNDAA, with the goal of allowing them to participate in the Peace Conference scheduled to take place in August. The Government would authorise their participation in the Conference and their inclusion into the ceasefire agreement if the groups accept to disarm and to cease their attacks on the Armed Forces. (The Irrawaddy, 30/06/16)
PHILIPPINES (MINDANAO-MNLF): President meets with the MILF and the MNLF to explore the future of peace negotiations and their support for a federal state
The new President, Rodrigo Duterte, met with the primary leaders of the MILF and one of the factions of the MNLF in Davao to address prospects for peace in Mindanao. After the meeting, which all parties described as very affable, both the MLNF and the MILF supported Duterte’s plans to transform the Philippines from a unitary state to a federal state, deeming that this could bring about an improvement in transparency, accountability, peace and security. The MILF, however, considers that the passing of the Bangsamoro Basic Law–the act that should regulate the creation of a new entity called Bangsamoro, replacing the Autonomous Region of Muslim MIndanao and which should incorporate the principal commitments set out in the peace agreement reached by the MILF and the government in 2014–must be prior to the establishment of a federal state; otherwise, too much time would elapse before the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro could be implemented. Recently, the new President of the House of Representatives, a figure very close to Duterte, indicated that the new Congress would not be addressing the passing the aforementioned law in the short term, deeming that the underlying concept of the law could also be achieved through a federal state. The MNLF made no statement on this issue. In any event, days after the meeting with Duterte, both the MILF and the majority faction of the MLNF showed their willingness to closely cooperate on the review of the Bangsamoro Basic Law and to establish a convention on this issue, which should submit its conclusions to the new President. (Philstar, 18/06/2016)
SYRIA: The UN special envoy announces plans to revive the talks on 1 August
Amidst a climate of growing violence in Syria, the special envoy of the UN and the Arab League recognised that the scenario is not conducive to resuming the negotiations, but underscored that it is urgent to resume talks in early August. According to the diplomat, it is essential that the next round of negotiations leads to concrete measures to launch a political transition and put an end to the armed conflict. However, media reports highlighted that the 1 August deadline announced by De Mistura for resuming the talks is a step backwards from the schedule set by the International Syria Support Group. This timetable provided for an agreement on a political transition in the country to be ready before early August. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed the urgency of reaching at least the preliminary agreement in early August. In this regard, De Mistura is expected to hold informal talks about the details of a possible transition, including issues like the future of the Syrian Army and government institutions. In late June, the diplomat stressed that discrete diplomacy was under way and that the third round of negotiations in August had to be very well prepared to provide concrete results. De Mistura has emphasised that he does not aim to convene a conference just for the sake of it and that guarantees are required for what options to advance. (The New York Times, 09/06/16; UN News, 29/06/16)
SOUTH SUDAN: The government continues to block effective implementation of the peace agreement
In a co-written article published on 7 June in The New York Times under the headline “South Sudan needs truth, not trials”, Salva Kiir and Riek Machar proposed to remove the clauses on justice and accountability for crimes committed during the war from the peace agreement. The establishment of a hybrid tribunal to try war criminals and of a separate commission on truth and reconciliation is one of the key provisions of the peace agreement signed by Machar and Kiir in August 2015, where it appears in chapter 5, article 3. Machar later distanced himself from the article. Human Rights Watch called on the African Union to set up a hybrid tribunal forming part of the agreement to try the war crime suspects. Meanwhile, the government of Salva Kiir has made different moves against the peace agreement, which jeopardise its implementation. On the one hand, President Kiir has refused to sign the resolution to establish quartering sites for the armed forces of the SPLA-IO. This led to the outbreak of SPLA-IO attacks against government forces in Kajo Keji on 11 June and in the city of Raja on 15 June to demonstrate the need for quartering sites and the unification of the military or the implementation of disarmament programmes in those areas. On the other hand, the president also failed to reach an agreement on the terms of reference to appoint the 15-member committee that will be in charge of reviewing the controversial administrative reform of the 28 states. Festus Mogae, the chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), condemned President Kiir directly for the ceasefire violations that threaten to sink it. Finally, early in the month the UN Security Council unanimously renewed its sanctions against Sudanese leaders that it perceives as obstructing peace, security and stability in the country. The sanctions, which will be effective until 31 May 2017, include a travel ban and the freezing of assets. The announcement was met with dismay by the South Sudanese government, which through its representative at the UN, Joseph Moum Majak Ngor Malok, repeated its frustration regarding the resolution, insisting that the government has made progress in implementing the peace process and warning that the sanctions could cancel out those efforts. (VOA, 01, 09/06/2016; NYT, 07/06/2016; The Guardian, 08/06/2016; Radio Tamazuj, 09/06/2016; Sudan Tribune, 09, 24/06/2016)
TURKEY (SOUTHEAST): The government reaffirms its rejection of any dialogue with the PKK, despite the PKK’s willingness to talk
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that the government has ruled out any possibility of dialogue with the PKK and has no interest in responding what he claimed was the group’s willingness to negotiate. Yildirim was referring to news that the group had directly or indirectly expressed a willingness to talk. Yildirim also accused the group of showing no recognition of sacred values by attacking during the month of Ramadan, in reference to the suicide attack in Istanbul in March claimed by the TAK that killed 12 people, including five civilians, and wounded over 30 people. Meanwhile, the Turkish president stressed again in June that he would prosecute city councils and mayors that give financial support to the PKK. In June, Erdogan signed a law recently approved by Parliament that eliminates immunity for MPs facing trial, which could open the doors to proceedings against 152 MPs in relation to 799 cases, including cases related to the pro-Kurdish party. Meanwhile, the co-leader of the HDP, Selahattin Demirtas, warned of the risks of an ethnic civil war in Turkey given the growing division between Kurds and Turks and expressed his willingness to meet with the president. (Hürriyet, Firat, 1-30/06/16)
UKRAINE (EAST): Disagreements about a possible new four-party presidential summit
The French government publicly positioned itself in favour of a new presidential-level summit between Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France, saying that progress has been made on this. Russia, on the other hand, expressed reservations stating that there was still no sufficient basis for such a meeting. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military pilot Nadiya Savchenko, who was released in late May by Russia and has become a symbol for part of the country, affirmed her willingness to speak directly with the leaders of eastern Ukraine, alleging that this would be more effective than negotiations in Normandy format (Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France). The leaders of Donetsk and Luhansk affirmed their willingness to speak with the military pilot, but only if she formally represents Ukraine as part of the peace process in Minsk. (The Guardian, RFE/RL, 1-30/06/16)
YEMEN: The UN special envoy announces the beginning of a new stage in the negotiations after a road map is defined
After weeks of negotiations in which the delegations discussed various political and security issues, the UN special envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, presented a road map to put an end to the conflict in the country. The plan provides for the establishment of a national unity government to ensure the revitalisation of the Yemeni economy and the provision of basic services to the population, hit hard by violence and the humanitarian crisis aggravated by the conflict. This new government would also be responsible for promoting a political dialogue that would help to resolve key issues like completing the draft Constitution, finishing the electoral law and supervising the transition. Both sides reportedly reacted positively to the proposal, but were unable to agree on the sequence and timing for implementing the different points. According to media reports, the deposed government of Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi has requested compliance with the provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 2216 of April 2015, including the withdrawal of the Houthis from the Yemeni capital and other cities and the delivery of heavy weaponry. However, sources close to the negotiations indicated that the Houthis first want to see the formation of a national unity government before any change is made to forces on the ground. At the end of the month, Ahmed stated that the principles that should guide the agreement were already defined and that the negotiations were entering a new two-week stage in which the delegations would meet with their respective leaders to identify practical recommendations about timetables for implementation. The meetings between the parties in Kuwait led to a release of prisoners by both sides in June. Saudi Arabia released 52 legal minors, while the Houthis, allied with the forces of former President Saleh, released 187 detainees. The negotiation also took place amidst acts of violence, with especially bloody episodes in cities like Taiz. In this city, the action of local tribes also led to an exchange of prisoners in June, swapping 76 pro-Hadi combatants for over 100 Houthi militiamen. (AP, 28/06/16; UN News, 21, 29/06/16; ICG 01/07/16)
ARMENIA – AZERBAIJAN (NAGORNO-KARABAKH): A new presidential summit facilitated by Russia with an agreement to expand the number of international observers
The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Serzh Sargsyan and Ilham Aliyev, met in Saint Petersburg at a summit facilitated by Russian President Vladimir Putin in the context of intensified diplomatic efforts following the escalation of violence in April. After the meeting, the Kremlin issued a joint statement in which the parties expressed satisfaction for the continuation of the ceasefire and agreed to expand the number of international observers in the conflict zone. It was the second direct meeting since the crisis in April, following the previous presidential summit in mid-May in Vienna, facilitated in this case by the OSCE Minsk Group, the main mediating body for the peace process. Meanwhile, the co-presidents of the Minsk Group met in May with the rotating chairperson-in-office of the OSCE, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and the personal representative of the chairperson-in-office in order to update information and evaluations of the summit in Saint Petersburg and to coordinate the next steps. They also urged the parties to comply with the agreements of the summits in Vienna and Saint Petersburg, including the elimination of obstacles to expand the office of the personal representative and the need to move forward for the agreement on an investigative mechanism for the OSCE. (OSCE, RFE/RL, 1-30/06/16)
COLOMBIA: The government and the FARC sign the “end of conflict” agreement
In what has been considered an irreversible step to putting an end to the armed conflict that has shaken Colombia for 52 years, on 23 June the Colombian government and the FARC guerrillas signed an “end of conflict” agreement and the mechanism for a popular referendum to ratify it. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon joined many other leaders in expressing his admiration for the negotiating teams, which showed that it is possible to achieve a dignified peace among all parties. The agreement signed in Havana after three years of negotiations, which is assumed to be the final step before signing the definitive peace, defines the functioning of the ceasefire and the cessation of hostilities, stipulates the process to lay down weapons, contains guarantees for security and for preparing for the reintegration of FARC troops into civilian life, establishes 23 quartering sites and eight smaller locations where the FARC can concentrate their forces and adopts the Constitutional Court’s decision on the mechanism of the popular referendum to ratify the final peace agreement. The items on the agenda that remain pending include the agreement on the “reintegration” of the FARC into civilian life and their transformation into a political movement and mechanisms to monitor and implement all the commitments. (PBS, 22/06/2016; Euro News, 22/06/2016; DW, 22/06/2016; BBC, 22/06/2016; UN News, 23/06/2016; CNN, 24/06/2016; Al Jazeera, 24/06/2016; ICG, 30/06/2016)
CYPRUS: The peace talks between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders resume with a new round after the process was cancelled in June
Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci met under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General’s special advisor Espen Barth Eide. This was the first meeting after the brief crisis in May, when Anastasiades cancelled the talks to protest what he considered attempts to gain international recognition for the Turkish Cypriot administration. According to Eide, the meeting, which was held on 8 June, included a highly constructive exchange of views on the methodology of the process and both parties agreed to intensify the talks. Therefore, they committed to meet twice per week starting on 17 June to resolve pending issues in the negotiations. The meeting on 8 June was preceded by a gathering of both leaders that coincided with the celebration of Children’s Day in Nicosia, which mobilised children from both administrations. With regard to the rest of the month, the meeting planned for 21 June was cancelled due to the serious situation of fires in Greek Cypriot territory. Akinci showed understanding and expressed support and condolences. Meanwhile, a delegation of the Nordic Women Mediators’ Network visited Cyprus between 26 and 31 May and met with the Gender Equality Technical Committee, a two-community body created as part of the peace process with representatives of the UN, civil society members and gender activists. (UN, Hürriyet, Sigmalive News, 1-30/06/16)
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO - UGANDA: Both countries hold talks to promote cross-border security
Representatives of the DRC and Uganda hold a meeting to enhance security and promote peace and unity along their common border, a region that has been witness to many local conflicts that have taken on a regional and international dimension. On June 13, delegations from both countries met in the Congolese town of Mahagi to discuss how to manage military incursions by their respective troops in neighbouring territories and the illicit trafficking of natural resources and goods. (Daily Monitor, 16/06/16)
MOZAMBIQUE: The government and opposition agree to international mediation
After the talks between the Mozambican government and the opposition party RENAMO began last May in order to prepare for the bilateral meeting between President Filipe Nyusi and RENAMO leader Afonso Dhlakama, the mediating team accepted the participation of international observers in the process after the fifth joint session. The opposition had made the same demand previously. In statements broadcast on television, on 16 June President Filipe Nyusi, who had been opposed to international mediators, announced that he accepted their presence to try to put an end to the crisis gripping the country. The proposed team of mediators is composed of the Catholic Church, the European Union and South African President Jacob Zuma. During the meeting of the negotiating commission at the end of the month, both sides decided to expand their negotiating teams on each side, from the current three to six. The three new members appointed by the government’s team were Antonio Hama Thai, a veteran of the war for independence, former chief of staff of the Mozambican Armed Forces and current MP of the FRELIMO party; Alfredo Gamito, a former minister of state administration; and Edmundo Galiza Matos Junior, the current spokesman for the FRELIMO parliamentary group. The three new mediators announced on the RENAMO side were Jeremias Pondeca, a former Mozambican MP; Leovigildo Buanacasso, a former RENAMO candidate for mayor of the city of Cuamba; and María Joaquina Inacio, a former member of the National Electoral Commission (CNE). (Europa Press, 17/06/2016; AIM, 18, 28-29/06/2016; Nyasa Times, 18/06/2016)
PHILIPPINES (NPA): The government and the NDF pursue exploratory peace talks, the first since the election of Rodrigo Duterte as President of the Philippines
Exploratory peace talks have resumed in Oslo between the NDF and the government where both parties agreed on the agenda for the formal negotiations which should start in Norway in late July: the ratification of the agreements achieved thus far (more than 20); a timetable for negotiations on the three main aspects of the substantive agenda (social and economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, and the cessation of hostilities), with a commitment from both sides to speed up the pace of negotiation; the reformation of the list of individuals covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG); amnesty for political prisoners; and a cessation of hostilities. In addition, both parties also agreed that the governmental panel would advise the President to immediately release the so-called NDF advisors and other individuals being held who, according to the NDF, are covered by the JASIG in order for them to take part in the aforementioned formal negotiations, and to release several prisoners on humanitarian grounds. The joint statement following the conclusion of the exploratory talks was signed by the Presidential Advisor on the Peace Process, Jesus Dureza, by the panel leader, Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello and by panel member Hernani Braganza. In the past, the three of them had played an important role in the peace process with the NDF. On behalf of the NDF, the statement was signed by CPP and NPA leader and founder Jose Maria Sison, by panel leader Luis Jalandoni and by panel member Fidel Agcaoli. However, the contents of the aforementioned statement will need to be ratified by the new administration of Rodrigo Duterte, due to be sworn in on 30 June. As in previous years, the Norwegian government held the role of dialogue facilitator. The government, the NDF and the process facilitator, Elizabeth Slattum, remarked on the trust and closeness between the parties that had overridden the two days of talks and also expressed their optimism regarding the future of the peace process. In this regard, Jesus Dureza announced that the enormous expectations which have been created around the likelihood of reaching a peace agreement with the NDF compared to other previous processes lie with the political will of Duterte in fostering and concluding peace negotiations. (CNN, Mindanews y Philippine Star, 15/06/16; GMA News, 14/06/16; Reuters, Rappler, 21/06/16; Inquirer, 23/06/16)
SOMALIA: The Federal Government announces that a new Parliament will be elected in August using a system to be decided by all regional leaders
The Presidential Office announces that the country will choose a new Parliament in August and that the president and the regional leaders will meet on June 20 to discuss how the future members of parliament will be chosen. They continue to stand by their July 2015 decision to not hold direct elections because the country does not yet meet the necessary security conditions and is unable to conduct a proper election census. In May Parliament failed to approve a road map establishing how the next elections should be run. The president’s office stated that one of the premises when discussing the procedures is that there will be no further extension of the government’s term and that the elections will take place on schedule. In 2012, 135 elderly clan leaders elected the members of parliament. Under the new draft plan, 13,750 people from all of the states will elect the 275 members of parliament, and an upper chamber will be created with 54 senators that will be chosen by the federal states. (Garowe Online, 06/05/16;, 06/17/16)
SUDAN (SOUTH KORDOFAN AND BLUE NILE): The government declares a temporary unilateral ceasefire
President Omar al-Bashir declared a four-month ceasefire starting on 18 June in the states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan, where the Sudanese government and rebel forces have been fighting since December 2011. The government has declared that the ceasefire initiative was produced with the intention of allowing the rebel movements that did not sign the Doha Document for Peace to join the peace process in Sudan and is also an appeal to all political forces and armed movements in the country to join the national dialogue before the general congress is convened on 6 August. The Arab League, the African Union, the UN Secretary-General and the US government all congratulated the country on the ceasefire declaration made by the government and urged the rebel groups to join it and allow humanitarian access to the civilian population affected by the war. Local organisations like the Council of Darfur Peace Movements welcomed the president’s decision on the ceasefire, describing it as a success. (Sudan News Agency, 17, 19-20/06/2016; Al Jazeera, 18/06/2016; Sudan Tribune, 19, 22/06/2016; UN News, 22/06/2016)
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