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This book explores theories of conflict and peacebuilding and applies them to case studies from the Asia Pacific region, seeking to shift attention to the inherency of conflict, the constant danger of re-emergence, and the need to establish mechanisms to resolve it. The authors argue that the central focus of peacebuilding should not be state-building per se, but rather the creation of effective mechanisms for peaceful resolution of both past and newly emerging conflicts. To do so, it is important to consider the entire process of creating peace, to contemplate the linkages between conflict, resolution, and post-conflict peacebuilding, rather than focus only on the period of institution-building.



Chapter 1. Introduction: From Conflict to Enduring Peace

This chapter argues that while analyses of conflict and mediation increasingly see conflict as inherent in all political systems, contemporary peace building approaches typically treat conflict as contingent, assuming that it can be resolved through the creation of effective political and economic structures. Contemporary peace building typically follows a hybrid approach, where major state institutions are developed by large powerful actors such as the UN, with little consultation or participation, while the creation of mechanisms for participation is left to much weaker actors, such as NGOs. Thus, the primary focus is on the creation of institutions by powerful actors, using "best practice" templates, with little local input, while participation is deferred and devolved onto weaker actors. While conflict transformation strategies have been a positive step in encouraging participation, and have begun to receive greater attention and funding, they also tend to gravitate to templates and focus on transforming a single conflict, rather than building ongoing mechanisms to resolve conflict. The chapter suggests greater attention be paid to the inherency of conflict, in particular calling for analysis to focus on the full conflict cycle, rather than only the peace building phase, and on employing that analysis in the development of permanent mechanisms for managing conflict.

James Ockey

Theoretical Perspectives


Chapter 2. The Tripartite Formula and Peacebuilding in the Asia-Pacific

This chapter investigates the liberal peacebuilding agenda’s tripartite formula of statebuilding, democracy promotion and economic liberalisation. It considers how these phenomena have fared in two countries in the Asia-Pacific before noting two alternative (and somewhat opposing) approaches that may help to reconceptualise future peacebuilding efforts. In doing so, this chapter speaks to the broad themes outlined in the introduction. In particular, it draws attention to the limits of a contingent approach to peacebuilding and further opens the door for a focus on considering how inherency might provide more nuanced initiatives.

Bethan K. Greener

Chapter 3. The Missing Link: Patterns in Leadership Changes and Mediation in Civil Wars

The nature of wars and warfare has changed dramatically since the end of the Cold Wars. The battles and proxy battles—fought between armed troops—that characterized the Cold Wars have given way to bloody and intercommunal conflicts in diverse places such as Angola, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Sudan, Iraq, Russia, Turkey, Rwanda, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Bosnia. The post-Cold Wars period has been characterized by an outbreak of nationalism and the accentuation of national and religious identity, and since the end of the Cold Wars, the types of actors involved in the major hot spots of violent conflict in the world have changed; the issues in dispute have shifted; the methods and technologies of warfare have evolved. Clearly, these trends have important implications for the ways actors in the international system behave in managing and, no less importantly, in resolving their disputes. We present some findings regarding the leadership change-mediation/civil wars settlement relationship based on systematic analysis of leader shifts in civil wars. Finally, we briefly discuss the impact of leader changes on mediation in civil wars as it has manifested in conflicts in Asia, specifically the Philippines and Myanmar.

Carmela Lutmar, Lesley G. Terris

Case Studies


Chapter 4. Making Peace in the Southern Philippines: Negotiated Settlements and the Search for a Durable Peace

The long-running Muslim insurgency that emerged in the 1970s in the Southern Philippines has preoccupied successive Philippine governments. Previous attempts at negotiations between the leaders of the minority Muslim community and the Philippine government have not succeeded in bringing about durable peace. While the government achieved important milestones in peace negotiations with one Muslim group, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), with the creation of an autonomous Muslim region in 1990 and the signing of a peace agreement in 1996, long-term grievances over territory, economic and political marginalisation continued to persist. This chapter addresses the various attempts made by the government to engage the other large Muslim group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and focuses on peace negotiations between 1997 and 2014 culminating in the signing of a major peace agreement, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. It explores the dynamics of peace negotiations through several stages in the conflict and the calculations of actors in crafting formulas for continued engagement. The inherent nature of the conflict puts enormous pressure on the various actors, undermining their ability to seize opportunities, improve their bargaining position and resolve their differences.

Naimah S. Talib

Chapter 5. Powersharing and Power Dividing in the Asia-Pacific

Executive power sharing has been practised widely in the Asia‐Pacific region, in both formal and informal ways. This chapter examines the theory and practice of these various approaches to the sharing or dividing of governing power across the region. I look first at the broad issues of executive structure and the distinction between presidential and parliamentary systems across the region, at the divergent approaches taken to both formal and informal practices of executive inclusion and at the empirical relationship between these variables and broader goals of political stability. Following this, I construct an “index of power sharing” to compare the horizontal sharing of powers across the region over time. Finally, I look at the experience of vertical powersharing via measures such as federalism, devolution and autonomy.

Benjamin Reilly

Chapter 6. Buying Peace in Timor-Leste: Crisis, Side-Payments and Regime-Building

Since the historic 1999 referendum, through which the East Timorese people escaped the 24-year grip of a brutal Indonesian occupation, the country has been through two major cycles of peacekeeping (re-establishing and maintaining order), peacemaking (agreement about the mechanisms and terms of resolution), and peacebuilding (encouraging adversaries to accept democratic processes and the promoting trust). The first of these lasted from 1999 through 2004, and the second from 2006 until 2008. While much of the existing literature has focused on UN peacekeeping, which is generally viewed as successful, and peacebuilding, which has had decidedly mixed results, far less attention has been paid to how peacemaking relates to regime formation. This chapter explores the Gusmão government’s strategy of buying peace in response to the 2006 internal ‘crisis’ and how, enabled by increasingly large state budgets drawn from the Petroleum Fund, this became a ruling strategy that involved buying-off potential spoilers, providing side-payments and direct cash transfers to the general public, and government contracts to elites.

Douglas Kammen

Chapter 7. Conflict Resolution and Political Change in Tonga

The Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific, population ca. 100,000, has never been engaged in external conflict, nor in civil war since the 1850s. This essay is therefore a study in avoidance of conflict during a period of political change during which a hereditary oligarchy voluntarily conceded executive and legislative powers to an elected parliament. The constitution adopted in 1875 reposed executive and legislative power in a council elected on a limited franchise to collaborate with the head of state. With amendments, the constitution remains in force. A popular reform movement arose in the 1980s but achieved virtually nothing in the face of regal and aristocratic intransigence until co-opted by a new king in 2006. A destructive riot in that year postdated the announcement of reforms but was followed by no further unrest. The peaceful transition to a more democratic form of government may be attributed first to the close alignment of cultural traditions with political structure and behavior and second to the role of powerful individuals in the hierarchy who recognized and embraced the need for change. Democracy as such was not a factor in either maintaining peace or achieving reform.

Ian C. Campbell

Chapter 8. Peace and Conflict in Samoa: The Role of Tradition and Traditional Institutions

This chapter aims to provide a more comprehensive analysis of why and how Samoan tradition, and in particular traditional institutions, promotes peace. It argues that the relationships between different parts of the traditional Samoan sociopolitical system are structured in a way that promotes peaceful relations within society. In particular, the system divides power between different political actors, both individual and corporate, so that none can claim paramount control, and each is made accountable to the other. This dispersal of power is the key feature of the system and one which contributes significantly to peace. It is a feature that also pervades processes that are part of the system. However, the chapter also argues that traditional institutions are not only conduits for peace, but also conflict, a feature that is often ignored in analyses of peace in Samoa.

Iati Iati

Chapter 9. From Conflict to Peaceful Participation: A Case Study of the Ongoing Conflict in Southern Thailand

This chapter examines the relationship between conflict and violence in the Deep South of Thailand and the political participation of people in the conflict areas. It considers how local people, when the conflict and violence are part of deep-rooted cycle, turn the conflict into incentives to participate in both electoral and non-electoral politics. Three modes of political participation, including electoral participation, participation through the state, and participation through civil society are discussed in this chapter. Based on statistical data and interviews with people from different backgrounds in the southernmost provinces of Thailand, this chapter suggests that there is a relationship between level of violence and level of political participation. People in the conflict areas of the Lower South illustrated that the negative experiences during the conflict, instead of leading only to grievances and violent actions, also can turn into an incentive for participation, perhaps contributing to a way out of the cycle of violence. This chapter found that trust, or a lack of trust, is the most important underlying issue of the conflict. Only when institutional trust is created can political participation in the Deep South be expanded more effectively.

Thanikun Chantra

Chapter 10. Resident Evil at the Gate of the Holy Land: Brewing Socio-politico Tensions in Post-conflict Aceh

The post-conflict status conferred to Aceh constitutes a paradox due to the existence of different forms of contestation on the ground that fuel tensions and minor violence because of the existence of absence of a context-specific conflict transformation mechanism in post-war environment. This chapter argues that conflict is ever-present, therefore, inherent, despite the disappearance of insurgency and the demobilization of GAM as a militant organization in Aceh. Using rich and original ethnographic data, this chapter exposes the various pockets of conflict and tensions at the community level in post-war Aceh. The grievances of excluded minority groups are often neglected due to their powerlessness and minor political value from the viewpoint of the ruling elites. This chapter concludes that although the grievances of powerless groups may have legitimacy, they do not have the agency to wage violence and destroy the current state of peace in Aceh. The Government of Indonesia is apparently in control of the politico-security landscape and has indisputable military capacity to curtail potentially emerging rebellion or security threats in Aceh—a situation similar to the period before settlement, but with weaker groups facing repression.

Jovanie Camacho Espesor



Chapter 11. Conclusions

This volume has focused on the conditions that foster successful peace building in various countries in the Asia-Pacific that underwent internal and external conflicts. We aimed at explaining the factors that help peace building efforts take hold in certain cases as opposed to others. We show that in order for peace building to succeed many conditions need to happen, and those vary by country, conflict type, actors, and, most importantly, institutions. Peace building is a very complex and multifaceted process, and we hope that this volume enhances our understanding on the role of institutions in constructing stable peace and in explaining key areas of the process.

Carmela Lutmar


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