Peace Talks and Negotiation


Why is peace in Aceh successful?

We often hear of unsuccessful peace talks, but seldom are exposed to the factors necessary for success. The unique case of Aceh in Indonesia is an example of a successful peace process. This short report by Hamid Awaluddin, who was Indonesia’s chief negotiator in the peace processes, explains why the talks were so successful. The opposing sides had a change in attitude following a powerful tsunami that killed almost 200,000 people. While that exact situation cannot, and should not, be replicated abroad, there are lessons that can be taken away from this situation.  Both sides defined clear goals after the tsunami. In addition, the media was not involved in the process, so as not to further entrench the two sides. However, the basis of the success was primarily the cultivation of personal relationships. Talking, listening, and recognizing each other’s shared humanity allowed the rebel groups and the government to reach lasting peace.  Although this form of conflict resolution sounds simplified, empathy is a powerful tool for peace that cannot be understated.

Awaluddin, Hamid. “Why is peace in Aceh successful?” Accord. Web. November 2013. <>.


Colombia’s Peace Processes: Multiple Negotiations, Multiple Actors (Pgs. 22-26)

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars published this report on the Colombia peace process, and includes words from leading experts such as Jaime Bermudez, Colombia’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs. Although much has happened in Colombia since this report was written in 2006, Bermudez gives a brief look at recent conflicts in Colombia. Most importantly, he explains the government’s perspective on what is needed most in order to move closer to peace. Bermudez believes that the country should work towards building renewed confidence by providing security to its people, and if necessary, will use military threat or coercion against criminals such as terrorists. However, many critics would argue that an influx of military power could do more harm than good. When involved in a peace process, a government must find a balance between diplomacy and military power. And while reconciliation is vital to the rebuilding process, determining who is a criminal and who isn’t must be decided on a case by case basis, rather than by a rigid law. These challenges are not unique to Colombia. Any government with the goal of initiating peace talks must balance power and reconciliation.

Arnson, Cynthia J. et al. “Colombia’s Peace Processes: Multiple Negotiations, Multiple Actors.” Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. December 2006. Pgs. 22-26. Web. November 2013. <>.


Role of Third Parties in Mindanao Peace Process

This paper was written from the perspective of the Bansamoro liberation fronts. The report was presented at the 2006 “International Conference on Peace Building in Asia Pacific: The Role of Third Parties” in Kohn Kaen, Thailand. Although a biased perspective, the author does a good job of contrasting three different examples of third party involvement in peace talks, specifically the Organization of Islamic Conference, Malaysia, and the United States. The paper presents a clear definition of different degrees of involvement. A great example of successful third party mediation is Malaysia’s role as facilitator between the Philippine government and the Bangsamoro group. A third party mediator must strike a balance between influence and neutrality in order to play a positive, and sometimes crucial, role in a peace settlement. It is a reminder that these global conflicts often involve multiple parties, some of who may not even be directly involved in the conflict.

Syed M. Lingga, Abhoud. “Role of Third Parties in Mindanao Peace Process.” July 2006. Web. 11 November 2013. <>.


Uganda–Lord’s Resistance Army Peace Negotiations: Addressing Dead Ends in a Maze

John Siebert, Executive Director at Ploughshares, writes about the Juba peace talks between the government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army. Although these peace talks ultimately failed, Siebert identifies key “dead-ends” that are still present today. He begins by recognizing that the Ugandan government itself has committed war crimes, and peace would require the acknowledgment of those crimes and for them to be addressed. Siebert’s main concerns are questions of legitimacy and the need for “public processes of acknowledgement and punishment” of ex-combatants. He goes on to address the issue of sacrificing justice for peace. In places of drawn-out conflict, many locals would prematurely opt for peace even if it meant forgoing holding their enemies accountable. He argues, “It is better to have peace talks that go on for years than a peace accord that quickly unravels.” While Siebert fairly illustrates the downsides to a speedy negotiation, he fails to mention the dangers of a stalled peace process.

Siebert, John. “Uganda–Lord’s Resistance Army Peace Negotiations: Addressing Dead Ends in a Maze.” The Ploughshares Monitor. Vol. 28. No. 4. 2007. Web. November 2013. <>.


Peace Talks with the Lord’s Resistance Army Are Unrealistic, For Now

Ledio Cakaj, a field researcher specializing on the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), criticizes the option of entering peace talks with the LRA. Cakaj argues that Kony, the leader of the LRA, would not have any intention of seeking real peace and would use the time to rebuild his army.  Cakaj believes that a better option would be to use political, military, and humanitarian influence. However, the author does not propose other specific solutions for peace. Kony’s refusal to cooperate with peacebuilders along with his demand for amnesty has paralyzed peace efforts and has caused some, including Cakaj, to call for different ways to address the conflict.

Cakaj, Ledio. “Peace Talks with the Lord’s Resistance Army Are Unrealistic, For Now.” Huffington Post. 21 May 2010. Web. November 2013. <>.

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