Aceh's Experience Offers Broader Lessons for Making Peace

Indonesia’s President Yudhoyono reflects on the first year of peace in Aceh and offers a number of insights that appear to be applicable to conflicts around the world:

  • A military solution could not bring permanent peace to Aceh.
  • Every conflict is amenable to a peaceful political solution.
  • But no political solution can be lasting unless both sides stand to gain. Win-win solutions can be only obtained through hard bargaining based on a spirit of compromise.
  • For peace to be permanent, it must be built on human security, political reconciliation, social unity, and economic reconstruction. The absence of any of these elements could undermine peace.
  • The quest for peace involves great political risk, sometimes more risk than the waging of war.
  • In fighting for peace, leaders must project courage, determination and sincerity.
  • Windows of opportunity must not be missed; they come very rarely and—like the tsunami—sometimes in the deceptive form of a crisis.

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, “Building Permanent Peace in Aceh,” International Herald Tribune, 14 August 2006.
For further reflections on what made peace possible in Aceh, see the article by the facilitator of the peace negotiations and the head of the international monitoring mission, respectively: Martti Ahtisaari and Pieter Feith, “Where There is a Will, There is a Way,” Jakarta Post, 16 August 2006.