The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) was signed on 27 March 2014 by the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), putting an end to a conflict that began in the 1970s and has cost the lives of more than 150,000 people. The CAB foresees the creation of an autonomous Bangsamoro political entity. Facilitated by Malaysia, the Agreement has given rise to the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law that is currently being debated in parliament.
The peace agreement also provides for a number of mechanisms in the framework of the normalisation process. One of these mechanisms, the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC). will be chaired by Swiss Special Envoy, Ms Mô Bleeker, Head of the FDFA Task Force for Dealing with the Past and Prevention of Atrocities. She will work with Ms Cecilia Jimenez Damary, representative of the Government of the Philippines and Mr Ishak Mastura, representative of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Mr Jonathan Sisson, also from the FDFA, has been appointed special adviser to the Commission.
The Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission has one year to present a report to the parties to the Agreement that includes recommendations for transitional justice and reconciliation measures. The TJRC, which has its own rules of operation, will be presented to the public for the first time at an official event in Cotobato on 4 October followed by a second public event in Manila on 11 October.
The TJRC is holding intensive consultations as part of its work. It has been asked to "undertake a study and recommend the appropriate mechanisms to address legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro people, correct historical injustices, and address human rights violations through land dispossession, towards healing and reconciliation" and to "recommend programmes and measures that will bring about the reconciliation of the different communities that have been affected by the conflict". The TJRC will examine the root causes of the conflict and propose appropriate measures aimed at preventing a recurrence.
The Task Force for Dealing with the Past and Prevention of Atrocities was created by the FDFA in 2011 and involves several FDFA agencies – the Human Security Division, the International Organisations Division, the Directorate of International Law and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. For several years the FDFA Task Force has advocated a Swiss approach to tackling impunity and the prevention of atrocities, operating at both the multilateral and the bilateral levels. The Task Force has received many requests for assistance, including the official request from the parties to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro to assume the chair of the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission.
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