Managed Impunity in the Bangsamoro Peace Process

Stream: Panel 11 - International Relations: Transitional Justice in the Asia Pacific
Date: Monday, 26 September 2016
Time: 2.00 pm – 3.30 pm


On 27 March 2014, the President of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino III, and the Chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. This agreement marked the culmination of eighteen years of negotiations and twelve prior agreements, declarations, annexes, and addendums that had sought to bring an end to civil conflict on the island of Mindanao. Among the key features of the Comprehensive Agreement’s Annex on Normalization is both the establishment of a Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission committed to ending impunity for human rights violations and an amnesty, employed as a confidence-building measure. The Bangsamoro peace process thus brings into sharp relief tensions surrounding the place of amnesties in peace and post-conflict justice processes. This paper examines the Philippines’ attempt to navigate a path between competing expectations surrounding the pursuit of justice and impunity for human rights crimes. It argues that in the case of the Bangsamoro peace process, a desire to attain international legitimacy through adherence to international normative expectations surrounding accountability for human rights violations has vied for supremacy with demands for political stability, cultural expectations concerning non-confrontational behavior, a genuine desire to forgive and forget, and pragmatic acceptance of the idea that impunity provides an effective way of moving on from the past. In particular, however, it argues that despite growing demands for accountability in peace processes, in the context of intractable conflict, amnesties remain perceived as an effective and often necessary bargaining and confidence-building tool.


Renee Jeffery (Presenter), Griffith University