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Resolving domestic conflict in South East Asia: how to build a sustainable peace

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Key issues arising included:

  • Context is all important, as well as understanding the complexities of conflict situations. No one model or solution fits all, and different types of conflicts and conditions require different measures. There is also a need for flexibility, and adaptation as a peace process evolves.

  • Senior figures in the parties to a conflict must demonstrate leadership, while they also need to remain in touch with their constituencies and consult conflict-affected communities on their needs and aspirations, building peace from the bottom up.
    Persistence and resilience are also important qualities in leadership.

  • It is important that formal negotiations are accompanied by informal channels, to enable a better understanding of opponents’ views and what they need to be able to move forward in a peace process. Informal communications are also an important safety net when official negotiations break down and at other times of tension in a peace process.

  • Maintaining security throughout a peace process, and in the aftermath, is a critical issue. Monitoring of ceasefires and implementation of agreements is vital, and third parties can play an important role in this, providing support and contributing to confidence building.

  • Peace-making is a personal journey for the leaders involved and you cannot legislate for this. It is perhaps one of the most vital of ingredients in a successful peace process, and yet one that cannot be ‘organised’ or ‘managed’. At the same time, third parties can assist, facilitating dialogue and making important contributions.

  • Peace-building takes time and needs long-term commitment, whether in developing the institutions needed for a sustainable peace or changing mind-sets.