June 20, 2020
On May 23, 2020, the third author workshop of the JICA Ogata Sadako Research Institute for Peace and Development (JICA Ogata Research Institute) research project, “Contextualizing International Cooperation for Sustaining Peace: Adaptive Peacebuilding Pathways”, took the format of a video conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors that were able to travel to the respective field research sites presented their preliminary research findings on cases related with Syria, Palestine, Mozambique, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in the Philippines, and Colombia. The workshop also included presentations that introduced a case study on China’s peacebuilding efforts in South Sudan and public policy perspectives on peacebuilding and sustaining peace.
Ako Muto, senior research fellow at JICA Ogata Research Institute, examined the significance and challenges of future peacebuilding actions in Syria. Muto highlighted the instrumental role of the National Agenda for the Future of Syria (NAFS), not only because it served as a platform for members of Syrian people to work together and develop evidence-based documents which will be the resources of the reconstruction of post-war Syria, but also due to its close relation with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA). The complex nature of Syria’s protracted conflict results in considerable challenges for NAFS to achieve swiftly the objectives of its mandate. However, Muto argued that NAFS adaptive approach offers valuable insights for future peacebuilders to find effective ways to address the contextual demands of Syria’s case.
Ryoji Tateyama, professor emeritus at the National Defense Academy of Japan, presented his study on the case of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) in the West Bank, addressing in particular its peacekeeping and peacebuilding role in a context of structural asymmetry. The TIPH peacebuilding approach is based on the principle of impartiality and international humanitarian law. Most evaluations of the TIPH’s performance are unfavorable, demonstrating “little impact” or “no impact” on the situation in Hebron. However, since the withdrawal of TIPH, the number of injured Palestinians increased by 4.5 times from February to December 2019 compared to 2018, indicating that the TIPH provided Palestinians with a relative level of safety. Considering this, Tateyama further analyzed how, despite their mandate to ‘only monitor and report,’ the TIPH did provide the Palestinians with a certain level of protection and hence, contributed to peace in the West Bank region.
Rui Saraiva, research fellow at JICA Ogata Research Institute, examined the emerging complexity of recent peace challenges in Mozambique resulting from a small-scale recurrence of conflict, between 2013 and 2019, and the emergence of an Islamic insurgency in Cabo Delgado since 2017. In this context, Saraiva analyzed the peacebuilding actions of international non-governmental organizations, such as the Community of Sant’Egidio and the Aga Khan Development Network, which in collaboration with local actors, the Mozambican government, and international donors, such as Japan, have a fundamental role to sustain peace in the country. Saraiva concluded that their adaptive nature and contextualized methods enabled them to achieve more effective and long-term peacebuilding outputs in an increasingly complex environment.
Miyoko Taniguchi, JICA’s senior advisor on peacebuilding, examined international cooperation and adaptive peacebuilding in the case of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the Philippines. Taniguchi analyzed the role of key international actors in the peace process, underlining JICA’s long-term commitment to peace and development in the region since the peace agreements signed between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Taniguchi also assessed the importance of cooperative relations among various stakeholders with the capacity to strengthen vertical and horizontal relations through mediation by outsiders and insiders, while generating trust-building and sense of unity among all parties. Taniguchi concluded that key determinants for sustainable peaceubuilding in the Bangsamoro context were likely to lie in the political capital of the president, the level of any form of support given by international community, and the engagement of civil society organizations in the peace continuum.
Lina Penagos, Ph.D. candidate at the University of Paris-Est, examined the significant experiences of adaptive peacebuilding within the implementation of the 2016 peace agreement signed between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed forces of Colombia (FARC). Penagos’ analysis focused on the reincorporation process in cities as well as in the Territorial Training and Reincorporation Spaces (ETCR), where government institutions, local populations, and international cooperation actors have converged to support former combatants into civilian life, as concurred in the peace agreement. In this context, despite the challenge that results from ongoing political tensions, budget restrictions and former combatants’ expectations, Penagos underlined the importance of local, hybrid, and adaptive peacebuilding practices under the National Reincorporation Policy in Colombia, led by the presidential Agency for Reincorporation and Normalization.
Miwa Hirono, associate professor at Ritsumeikan University, introduced the background of her case study on the analysis of China’s peacebuilding efforts in South Sudan. Welcomed by the South Sudanese government, China’s approach offers an alternative to liberal peacebuilding approaches in the region. Actor-oriented and based on the principle of non-interference, it has the potential to welcome an increasing level of adaptiveness to local contexts in its implementation. However, Hirono added that despite China’s approach to peacebuilding allowing locally and context-specific initiatives, in reality the level of adaptation of Chinese peacebuilding efforts has been relatively limited and remains largely symbolic.
Chigumi Kawaguchi, assistant professor at Toyo Gakuen University, introduced her conceptual analysis on the transformation of peacebuilding from the perspective of public policy studies. Kawaguchi examined several levels of policymaking in detail and revealed the key characteristics, possibilities and limitations of peacebuilding actions at three main levels, i.e., international, national, and local levels. Kawaguchi argued that by further taking into account the interactions between relevant stakeholders within the peacebuilding policy processes, this would further reveal the potential for alternative peacebuilding approaches in contemporary cases of complex, recurring, and protracted conflicts.
The project advisors, Cedric de Coning, senior research fellow at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI); Akihisa Matsuno, professor at Osaka University; and Yasuhiro Takeda, professor at the National Defense Academy of Japan, offered their valuable feedback to all presentations and acknowledged the significant progress of the research project. They also highlighted the potential of JICA Ogata Research Institute’s project to enhance further collaboration between scholars and practitioners working in the field of peace and development.