Aceh Peace Process May Help Settle Papua Conflict

Damien Kingsbury, a former advisor to the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), writes that the outcome of the Aceh peace process has important implications for reaching a satisfactory settlement in Papua, where calls for independence from Indonesia may trigger a violent backlash from the Indonesian military and nationalist legislators in Jakarta who are determined not to allow Papua to secede.

Like Aceh’s peace agreement, a successful negotiated settlement will require an outside mediator and outside powers (such as Australia, the United States, or the European Union) acting as guarantors of an agreement.

If the governing law for Aceh, which is currently being discussed in the Indonesian parliament, is passed in such a manner as to reaffirm the key provisions of the peace agreement with GAM, then it can serve as an important precedent for a negotiated settlement in Papua. If the law is rejected, or passed in diluted form, it may be have negative repercussions for Papua as well.

GAM and other leaders of Aceh’s civil society recently affirmed their commitment to a peaceful and democratic Aceh. There is an expectation that any shortcomings in the governing law could be referred to the Crisis Management Initiative in Helsinki (the facilitator of the 2005 peace agreement) and the European Union for mediation.

Related Links:

Damien Kingsbury, “The Trouble with Territory’s Future,” The Australian, 15 April 2006.