Solving the Moro problem: legalizing the Bangsamoro peace process

Published date11 July 2016
Date11 July 2016
AuthorGene Carolan
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology,Aggression, conflict & peace
Solving the Moro problem: legalizing the
Bangsamoro peace process
Gene Carolan
Gene Carolan is a PhD
Candidate at the Department of
Law, National University of
Ireland Maynooth, Kildare,
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to highlight the structural features that are proving central to
the stability of the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the Government of
the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and those features that were detrimental to
its predecessors.
Design/methodology/approach This paper adopts a legalization framework derived from the model
presented by Abbott et al. The simplicity of Abbott et al.s theory allows for variation in the agreementstext to
be easily measured and compared. The inherent advantages of this model offset the difficulties in
characterizing peace agreements under traditional legal methodologies, and reiterate the importance of
legalized agreements in a conflict resolution context.
Findings This paper finds that a more highly legalized approach to peace-making has resulted in greater
agreement stability in the Philippines. More precise in detail and inclusive in scope, the legal nature of the
2014 Comprehensive Agreement has made it more responsive to the root causes of the conflict, and resilient
to incidents that threatened to derail the peace process.
Practical implications This case study bears valuable lessons for conflict zones the world over,
particularly the troubled negotiations on Syria, and the crisis in Ukraine. The study: lends tentative support to
Gopalans claim that agreements that exemplify hard legalization are much more sustainable in the long run;
stresses the advantages of inclusivity in agreement sustainability and stability; reiterates the importance of
addressing the key issues relevant to the conflict if the process is to be sustainable, and; notes the limitations
of the legalization framework, but presents the Philippine example as a blueprint for addressing various
aspects of the Syrian and Ukrainian conflicts.
Originality/value This is the first peer-reviewed analysis to explore the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement
as a highly legalized conflict resolution instrument, and an adaptable template for peace agreement
design generally.
Keywords Conflict resolution, International law, Ethnic conflict, Peace-making, Legalization,
Peace research
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
This paper employs a theory of legalization to critically evaluate the protracted peace process
between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and Moro insurrectionists in
Mindanao. Underpinning the study is a research question posed by legal and international
relations scholars alike: whether there are certain features that are consistently attributable to
sustainable processes of peace-making (Kittrie, 2003; Morriss, 1996; Fortna, 2003). Though an
ample body of academic work in the field of conflict resolution has examined how belligerents
might achieve victory (Wallensteen and Sollenberg, 1997, p. 342), how parties may be induced
into negotiation (Walter, 1997), and how certain factors can influence the ultimate success of an
agreement (Gleditsch and Beardsley, 2004; Bekoe, 2003; Stedman et al., 2002; Hartzell, 1999;
Received 9 February 2016
Revised 1 April 2016
3 April 2016
Accepted 3 April 2016
With thanks to Dr John Reynolds
and Dr Noelle Higgins at Maynooth
University for their invaluable
advice and assistance, and the
comments of the reviewers, which
will be very helpful in refining the
broader research from which this
paper is drawn.
VOL. 8 NO. 3 2016, pp.212-223, © Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1759-6599 DOI 10.1108/JACPR-02-2016-0214

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