The Peace Building Framework in Aceh: It Worked Just Enough, Here’s Why

Cameron Noble

Introduction

This paper introduces the key legal frameworks to manage the Aceh peace building process[1] in the initial period of August 2005 to early-2009. It examines what worked well and what didn’t, including exploring fault lines in the frameworks that caused tensions to emerge, and aims to provide some insights on peace building theories in practice. While it makes critical points, it acknowledges that the Aceh peace process as of early 2014 had passed the most crucial test of any peace process: keeping the peace, despite on-going sporadic incidents of violence[2], after 29 years of intermittent conflict and one of the worst natural disasters on record[3]. While some of the implementation practices used in Aceh were outside the orthodoxy of peace building practice, its basic aims and approaches were reasonably standard[4]. The success of the peace process could be thought of as a deviation from international standards itself considering studies have shown that only half of negotiated peace settlements last beyond five years[5].

The Framework Puzzle

There were four key frameworks in the form of agreements and laws that formed the foundations for peace four years on from the MoU: the Helsinki Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), Presidential Instruction No. 15, the Law on the Governing of Aceh (LoGA), and the series of regulations defining the establishment and mandate of the Aceh Reintegration Agency (BRA)[6].

The frameworks were based on the premise that conflict usually reduces employment and education opportunities, diminishes government service provision, and increases personal debt, therefore former combatants and conflict victims need assistance in order to reintegrate and become actively involved in society again. Moreover, the frameworks aimed to reduce the push for the independence of Aceh from Indonesia through the provision of greater political autonomy and revenue, while remaining part of the unitary state. These are basic aims are common in most peace processes[7].

Helsinki MoU: The Breakthrough. The initial, overarching framework for the peace process was the Helsinki MoU signed on 15 August 2005. The document covered a range of topics such as governance arrangements, political participation, economy, human rights, amnesty, reintegration, security arrangements, and the formation of the Aceh Monitoring Mission. Article 3.2 is related to assistance to conflict actors and victims and states that a Reintegration Fund under the administration of the authorities of Aceh will be established and that the Government of Indonesia (GoI) “will allocate funds for the rehabilitation of public and private property destroyed or damaged as a consequence of the conflict to be administered by the authorities of Aceh.” Furthermore, the GoI “will allocate suitable farming land as well as funds to the authorities of Aceh for the purpose of facilitating the reintegration to society of the former combatants and the compensation for political prisoners and affected civilians”. Similarly, it states that all former combatants, pardoned political prisoners and all civilians who have “suffered a demonstrable loss due to the conflict….will receive an allocation of suitable farming land, employment or, in the case of incapacity to work, adequate social security from the authorities of Aceh.” Importantly, the MoU states that a Human Rights Court, a Commission for Truth and Reconciliation and a Joint Claims Settlement Commission will be established.

Presidential Instruction No. 15: The National Post-Conflict Policy. Presidential Instruction No. 15, signed on November 14, 2005 was to “take steps for the planning and policy for roles and functions” of 20 government ministries, bodies and agencies for the implementation of the MoU with the Coordinating Ministry of Politics, Legal and Security Affairs tasked with coordinating planning and policy, solving MoU disputes, and evaluating the implementation of the MoU. The President used the Instruction to establish a legal framework rather than attempting to pass legislation through the People’s Representative Council (national parliament) due to expected resistance and delays from Members of Parliament, who felt Aceh was being rewarded for its rebellion.

Law on Governing Aceh and Special Autonomy Funds: The Long-Term Opportunities. The largest monetary dividend from the peace process will eventually be the special autonomy funds. Based on Law No. 18/2001 on Special Autonomy for Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam and Law No. 11/2006 on the Governing of Aceh (LoGA), Aceh is expected to receive IRD 78.6 trillion (USD 7.9 billion) in additional revenue from the central government through to the end of 2027 (MSR 2009). Although this is not specified for post-conflict recovery purposes, it is linked to earlier and the most recent attempts at peace.

Through the LoGA, Aceh receives an additional two percent of the National General Allocation Fund for 15 years, and an additional one percent for five more years. Furthermore, both the Law on Special Autonomy and the LoGA stipulate that Aceh receive 70 percent of the revenue from oil and gas, compared with the usual provincial allocation of 15 and 30 percent respectively. Another important issue is the distribution of the special autonomy funds. In other provinces, 90 percent of the General Allocation Fund is given to district-level governments, with only ten percent going to the province. However, the Aceh provincial government receives 40 percent of the special autonomy funds, giving it unprecedented resources. Between 1999 and 2008 total provincial revenue at 2008 prices increased 15-fold due to these special allocations[8].

The Aceh Reintegration Agency: Loads of Responsibility and Lack of Authority. The last main set of regulations in the initial four year period of Aceh’s peace building process concerned the Aceh Reintegration Agency (BRA). Between its formation in February 2006 and early 2009, six Governor’s Decrees were passed on the formation, mandate and structure of the Board[9]. During this period, BRA was mandated with coordinating and monitoring the reintegration program. However, its authority was limited[10]. The MoU only refers to “authorities of Aceh” for the management of assistance and this later led to ambiguity of roles. It did not handle funds for reintegration, which was done mainly by the provincial Department of Social Affairs, but only identified the appropriate beneficiaries and monitored their receipt of funds. BRA was perceived by the public, including former combatants and conflict victims, as having the responsibility for the peace process, but in reality it did not have the authority to design strategies, secure funding and implement projects. For example it was blamed for the late provision of funds to beneficiaries by agencies such as the Ministry of Finance, the Budgetary Committee of the National Parliament, and the Ministry of Social Affairs through the provincial Department of Social Affairs. There were also tensions between the National Development Planning Agency and the BRA over roles and responsibilities in regard to strategies and approaches to fulfilling the MoU. The BRA’s own challenges included a lack of staff capacity and a comprehensive long term strategy[11].

The Fault Lines in the Framework

While the MoU and primary implementing legal frameworks are sound and display a healthy commitment from the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Merdeka Aceh-GAM) and Aceh Transitional Committee (Komite Peralihan Aceh – KPA), and the Governments of Aceh and Indonesia, there were many shortcomings and challenges in implementation.

The MoU addressed many of the same issues as other peace agreements and standards around the world based on conflict resolution theory, such as political reform, boundary demarcation, truth and reconciliation mechanisms, natural resource management, a dispute resolution committee, human rights, amnesty, military and police reform, and the demobilization, and the disarmament and reintegration of former combatants[12]. From one perspective the fault lines laid not in its content, but rather in the lack of implementation of key clauses. This led to increased suspicion on the ground in Aceh toward the central government and its commitment to the peace process. The Human Rights Court and the TRC in particular were issues that were dividing opinion in Aceh with some believing that the past should be left alone with the focus on the future, while others felt that a solid foundation for peace was not possible without justice and reconciliation. The non-implementation of land distribution was also a cause of some tension, as the GAM/KPA leadership and the national government agreed on cash compensation rather parcels of land after the MoU was signed. However, not all stakeholders were aware of or agreed with this change.

It could be argued that immediately implementing these clauses word-for-word in line with the MoU could have caused more tension not only within Aceh but also with the central government. Opposition to the TRC and Human Rights Court was strong among nationalistic figures and security forces, while land is a sensitive issue as it is tied to identity in Aceh.

At the other end of the spectrum, Presidential Instruction No. 15 was in many ways ahead of itself and a bold initiative by the central government to demonstrate its commitment to the implementation of the MoU. Mainstreaming conflict-sensitive development into normal government structures is one of the goals of modern post-conflict assistance and is viewed as good practice[13]. However, the stumbling block of the Presidential Instruction was in the implementation. Despite efforts, the Coordinating Ministry for Politics, Legal and Security Affairs was largely unable to get the relevant government agencies to prioritize the provision of assistance and develop special policies to assist former combatants and conflict victims. Amongst government officials at the national level there was a feeling that Aceh was already receiving too much assistance from the national government and from foreign donors for both the post-tsunami and -conflict recovery efforts while other provinces were perennially racked by poverty and social issues less in the limelight. In Aceh, there was insufficient awareness of the Instruction among the public, who were focused on the MoU and the LoGA. These missing elements led to the Instruction being largely unimplemented.

The special autonomy funds that came into effect in 2008 have the potential to address post-conflict needs. However, as the Aceh Recovery Framework points out “the consolidation of peace in Aceh rests ultimately with the structural reform of society towards predictable, fair and transparent rules, mechanisms and procedures for the legitimate conduct of all levels of government, business and civil society”[14]. During the conflict, Aceh had the reputation of being one of the most corrupt provinces in the country[15]. Provincial and district government capacity to handle increased revenues efficiently was also lacking, and spending the increased revenue was problematic. In 2008, Aceh’s unspent budget rose to 33 percent. This lack of capacity to spend the funds effectively was becoming source of tension as people, particularly in conflict-affected areas, held high hopes for a better future, not only in terms of peace but also in terms of the provision fundamental services and opportunities to recover lost employment, in light of significant funds available to the provincial government[16].

BRA’s role in the peace process was central up until early 2009. Much of the focus on individual cash compensation for reintegrated combatants was the result of the central government’s narrow interpretation of the MoU rather than BRA’s policy. GAM leaders had also chosen only cash compensation rather than land and other in-kind support in contradiction to the MoU, which only offers “suitable farming land, employment or, in the case of incapacity to work, adequate social security”. By early 2009, there was a palpable sense of public dissatisfaction toward BRA from former combatants, political prisoners and conflict victims who felt they had missed out on assistance or didn’t receive enough. Push back from the central government against further increasing aid due to opposition from other regions and a feeling that more than enough had already be provided was clashing with expectations from former combatants and conflict victims. In this sense, public expectation of BRA was always greater than its authority and the central government allowed, which became a distinct source of tension. Tension between groups expecting assistance and those providing it are common in post-conflict societies. In Aceh this was exacerbated by the ambiguity in the MoU in defining the mechanisms and institutions for delivering assistance and the public expectation of BRA.

Fortunately in Aceh, the tsunami recovery effort filled the gaps in post-conflict assistance just enough to keep the peace. The MSR estimated that at least USD 529 million, or nine percent, of tsunami assistance indirectly addressed needs in post-conflict areas. This is 144 percent of the USD 365 million in specific post-conflict assistance. There was enough aid pouring into Aceh to allow enough people to benefit directly or indirectly from aid in one form or another to keep dissatisfaction from spilling in to violence.

Lessons from Aceh: Perfection Is Not the Aim

The lessons from the peace building legal frameworks in Aceh are easier to identify with hindsight. As practitioners know, there is often a difficult balance in conflict resolution that must be found between expediency and buy in. While development allows for time be taken for consultations and preparatory processes, the urgency and promise of a resolving conflict can necessitate bold decision making, compromises and short cuts. The initial period of the Aceh peace process was no exception. Below are a number of key lessons from Aceh nearly 10 years on.

The Presidential Instruction, while a good strategy, suffered from a lack of follow up and leadership from the Coordinating Ministry and the President. High-level planning and coordination led by the Coordinating Ministry together with the National Development Planning Agency and its provincial counterpart, and with the vocal support of the President, would have facilitated (or forced) more national and provincial departments and agencies to play an active role early in the peace process. As with the concurrent tsunami recovery process, there should have been a capable and authoritative agency, existing or ad-hoc, with strong backing from the President to oversee the peace process. Instead of relying on the BRA for the coordinating and monitoring of government aid for the peace process, the integrated whole-of-government approach espoused by the Presidential Instruction under strong leadership would have led to a less controversial and tension-ridden post-conflict recovery and reintegration process. Given the limited scope of its authority, the BRA may have been better served with working across the government, possibly in cooperation with international agencies and local NGOs, to increase capacity in research, needs assessments, program design, and conflict-sensitive programming.

In regard to the MoU, despite the clauses that had not been implemented as of early 2009, including the Human Rights Court and the TRC, it is still regarded as the key document in the peace process by all stakeholders. Agreement on the MoU probably would not have been reached in Helsinki in such a short time frame without the commitment from the GoI for institutions such as the TRC and for the distribution of land. However, after the signing, and with time to reflect, neither the Government nor the Aceh Transition Committee showed enthusiasm for implementing these clauses in the first four years of the peace process[17].

This raises the question about the need to absolutely implement peace agreements. As was the case in Aceh, peace agreements are often negotiated, drafted and signed in a relatively short period with enormous pressure on both sides to reach a deal. Post-conflict societies also undergo rapid political, social and economic change as fighting ceases. This change could bring about new or altered conditions for building peace that are not reflected in a formal peace agreement, which have traditionally been ‘static’ documents guiding fluid environments. Introducing options in peace agreements based on the results of public dialogue could be considered for future peace processes. In Aceh, non-implemented clauses were not publically discussed leading to tension that may have been diffused through such a dialogue. Ultimately peace agreements should only be judged on their effectiveness in keeping peace long term and allowing people to get on with their lives, and not by checking off what clauses have been implemented.

 


[1]The paper is based mainly on the findings of the Multi-Stakeholder Review of Post-Conflict Programming in Aceh (MSR), which was major research project carried out between May 2008 and December 2009 by a team of national and international researchers in Aceh. The MSR was supported by the World Bank, UNDP, USAID-Serasi, AusAID, the Embassy of the Netherlands and DFID. The National Agency for Development Planning (Bappenas), Desk Aceh within the Coordinating Ministry for Security, Politics and Law, and the Aceh Peace-Reintegration Board (BRA) provided valuable feedback and guidance throughout the process. It provided a framework and an analytical basis for future policies and programs, primarily for the government but also for donors, to consolidate sustainable peace and development in Aceh.

2 For example, in mid-March 2014, in the lead up to national elections, there were violent clashes including arson and shootings happening in Takengon in Central Aceh between Partai Aceh supporters and members of the Defenders of the Homeland (Pembela Tanah Air-PETA), the generic name for a group of pro-central government organisations and village self-defence groups.

[3]The Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami of 26 December 2004 resulted in the confirmed death of over 130,000 people in Indonesia – the vast majority in Aceh. Over half-million people were displaced. Damage and loss amounted to USD 6.1 billion. 120,000 houses were destroyed and 3,000 km of road, 2,000 school buildings, over 100 health centers, and about 60,000 hectares of agricultural land was damaged or destroyed. Add to this the 30,000 deaths and USD 10.7 billion in damage and loss from the conflict over 29 years and the dire situation of Aceh in 2005 become clearer.

[4] For the purpose of this paper the standard practices on reintegration and the broader peace building refer to approaches outlined in the Integrated Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Standards (IDDRS) from the Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG 2006) and the Stockholm Initiative of Disarmament Demobilisation Reintegration (SIDDR) by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sweden (2006).

[5] Licklider, Roy (1995), The Consequences of Negotiated Settlements in Civil Wars, 1945-1993, The American Political Science Review. Vol. 89, No. 3 (Sep., 1995), pp. 681-690. American Political Science Association.

[6] While there were other frameworks, such as the BRA, Bappenas and UNDP developed Rencana Strategis (Strategic Plan) of 2007, these were not seen as influential in the peace process during this initial period.

[7] These basic aims are common with the standard approaches spelled out in the Integrated Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Standards (IDDRS) from the Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG 2006) and the Stockholm Initiative of Disarmament Demobilisation Reintegration (SIDDR) by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sweden (2006). While the aims of the frameworks were in line with these standards, the implementation was sometimes unorthodox.

[8] World Bank (2008), Aceh Public Expenditures Analysis Update 2008. Banda Aceh: World Bank.

[9] Governor’s Decree No. 330/032/2006 on Formation of the Board for the Reintegration of Former Members of the Free Aceh Movement into Society; Governor’s Decree No. 330/106/2006 on Formation of the Aceh Peace-Reintegration Board; Governor’s Decree No. 330/213/2006 on the Organisational Structure of the Aceh Peace-Reintegration Board; Governor’s Decree No. 330/145/2007 on Formation of the Aceh Peace-Reintegration Board; Governor’s Decree No. 330/438/2008 on Formation of the Aceh Peace-Reintegration Board; and Governor’s Decree No. 330/320/2009 on Formation of the Aceh Peace-Reintegration Board.

[10] BRA’s counterpart for tsunami recovery, the Aceh-Nias Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency (BRR), was vastly different. BRR’s structure was established by Presidential Decree No. 76/2006. Its Director had national minister status and reported directly to the President. BRR had its own long-term funding directly from Jakarta for four years with the authority to decide how to use it. It had authority over all the major aspects of the tsunami recovery process including formulating strategies, implementing reconstruction, carrying out procurement, coordinating reconstruction by other government and non-government entities and managing budgets. This led to a more cohesive post-tsunami response.

[11] BRA’s Follow Up on the Helsinki Peace Framework: A Comprehensive Action Plan itself acknowledges that it was the “first attempt at developing a comprehensive peacebuilding strategy for the Aceh Peace process” while “recognizing that continued work is necessary to produce a robust strategy capable of sustaining and strengthening peace in Aceh.”

[12]For example, in a comparison of 33 peace accords from around the world (including the Helsinki MoU), 24 were shown to have articles addressing political and electoral reform, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants. Twenty-five address military reform and 23 police reform. The only stand out omission in the Helsinki MoU that is common in other peace accords was a clear reference to donor support (Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies 2012), but that was due to the fact that the Aceh peace process was led by the Government of Indonesia, with 47 percent of post-conflict funding coming from them up to late 2008 (MSR 2009).

[13] See Barbolet et al. (2005). The Utility and Dilemmas of Conflict Sensitivity. Berghof Research Center for Constructive Conflict Management. Berlin; and, UNDESA (2007). Governance Strategies for post-conflict reconstruction, sustainable peace and development. UNDESA. New York. Discussion Paper November 2007.

[14] Government of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam (2007). Aceh Recovery Framework 2008-2011. Banda Aceh: Government of

Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam.

[15] Even in 2008, out of 50 cities surveyed, Banda Aceh had the third highest perception of corruption in the country. Transparency International (2008). Measuring Corruption in Indonesia: Indonesia Corruption Perception Index 2008 and Bribery Index. Accessed at <http://www.ti.or.id/en/publication/all/tahun/2009/bulan/01/tanggal/21/id/3845/> October 9, 2009.

[16] Islahuddin (2010). Some Preliminary Notes on the Aceh Special Autonomy Fund and the Shared Oil and Gas Earning Fund. Crisis Management Initiative, Banda Aceh. Note that spending delivery increased to 95 percent in 2010 but has subsequently slumped again.

[17] There were legal issues around the establishment of the TRC after the national TRC law was annulled by the Constitutional Court on the grounds that it was in violation of Indonesia’s constitution (Law 27/2004 on the National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation), however, there wasn’t a lot of effort to explore alternative viable options or to consult with the broader public on the issue.

The Framework Puzzle

There were four key frameworks in the form of agreements and laws that formed the foundations for peace four years on from the MoU: the Helsinki Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), Presidential Instruction No. 15, the Law on the Governing of Aceh (LoGA), and the series of regulations defining the establishment and mandate of the Aceh Reintegration Agency (BRA)[6].

The frameworks were based on the premise that conflict usually reduces employment and education opportunities, diminishes government service provision, and increases personal debt, therefore former combatants and conflict victims need assistance in order to reintegrate and become actively involved in society again. Moreover, the frameworks aimed to reduce the push for the independence of Aceh from Indonesia through the provision of greater political autonomy and revenue, while remaining part of the unitary state. These are basic aims are common in most peace processes[7].

Helsinki MoU: The Breakthrough. The initial, overarching framework for the peace process was the Helsinki MoU signed on 15 August 2005. The document covered a range of topics such as governance arrangements, political participation, economy, human rights, amnesty, reintegration, security arrangements, and the formation of the Aceh Monitoring Mission. Article 3.2 is related to assistance to conflict actors and victims and states that a Reintegration Fund under the administration of the authorities of Aceh will be established and that the Government of Indonesia (GoI) “will allocate funds for the rehabilitation of public and private property destroyed or damaged as a consequence of the conflict to be administered by the authorities of Aceh.” Furthermore, the GoI “will allocate suitable farming land as well as funds to the authorities of Aceh for the purpose of facilitating the reintegration to society of the former combatants and the compensation for political prisoners and affected civilians”. Similarly, it states that all former combatants, pardoned political prisoners and all civilians who have “suffered a demonstrable loss due to the conflict….will receive an allocation of suitable farming land, employment or, in the case of incapacity to work, adequate social security from the authorities of Aceh.” Importantly, the MoU states that a Human Rights Court, a Commission for Truth and Reconciliation and a Joint Claims Settlement Commission will be established.

Presidential Instruction No. 15: The National Post-Conflict Policy. Presidential Instruction No. 15, signed on November 14, 2005 was to “take steps for the planning and policy for roles and functions” of 20 government ministries, bodies and agencies for the implementation of the MoU with the Coordinating Ministry of Politics, Legal and Security Affairs tasked with coordinating planning and policy, solving MoU disputes, and evaluating the implementation of the MoU. The President used the Instruction to establish a legal framework rather than attempting to pass legislation through the People’s Representative Council (national parliament) due to expected resistance and delays from Members of Parliament, who felt Aceh was being rewarded for its rebellion.

Law on Governing Aceh and Special Autonomy Funds: The Long-Term Opportunities. The largest monetary dividend from the peace process will eventually be the special autonomy funds. Based on Law No. 18/2001 on Special Autonomy for Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam and Law No. 11/2006 on the Governing of Aceh (LoGA), Aceh is expected to receive IRD 78.6 trillion (USD 7.9 billion) in additional revenue from the central government through to the end of 2027 (MSR 2009). Although this is not specified for post-conflict recovery purposes, it is linked to earlier and the most recent attempts at peace.

Through the LoGA, Aceh receives an additional two percent of the National General Allocation Fund for 15 years, and an additional one percent for five more years. Furthermore, both the Law on Special Autonomy and the LoGA stipulate that Aceh receive 70 percent of the revenue from oil and gas, compared with the usual provincial allocation of 15 and 30 percent respectively. Another important issue is the distribution of the special autonomy funds. In other provinces, 90 percent of the General Allocation Fund is given to district-level governments, with only ten percent going to the province. However, the Aceh provincial government receives 40 percent of the special autonomy funds, giving it unprecedented resources. Between 1999 and 2008 total provincial revenue at 2008 prices increased 15-fold due to these special allocations[8].

The Aceh Reintegration Agency: Loads of Responsibility and Lack of Authority. The last main set of regulations in the initial four year period of Aceh’s peace building process concerned the Aceh Reintegration Agency (BRA). Between its formation in February 2006 and early 2009, six Governor’s Decrees were passed on the formation, mandate and structure of the Board[9]. During this period, BRA was mandated with coordinating and monitoring the reintegration program. However, its authority was limited[10]. The MoU only refers to “authorities of Aceh” for the management of assistance and this later led to ambiguity of roles. It did not handle funds for reintegration, which was done mainly by the provincial Department of Social Affairs, but only identified the appropriate beneficiaries and monitored their receipt of funds. BRA was perceived by the public, including former combatants and conflict victims, as having the responsibility for the peace process, but in reality it did not have the authority to design strategies, secure funding and implement projects. For example it was blamed for the late provision of funds to beneficiaries by agencies such as the Ministry of Finance, the Budgetary Committee of the National Parliament, and the Ministry of Social Affairs through the provincial Department of Social Affairs. There were also tensions between the National Development Planning Agency and the BRA over roles and responsibilities in regard to strategies and approaches to fulfilling the MoU. The BRA’s own challenges included a lack of staff capacity and a comprehensive long term strategy[11].

 

The Fault Lines in the Framework

While the MoU and primary implementing legal frameworks are sound and display a healthy commitment from the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Merdeka Aceh-GAM) and Aceh Transitional Committee (Komite Peralihan Aceh – KPA), and the Governments of Aceh and Indonesia, there were many shortcomings and challenges in implementation.

The MoU addressed many of the same issues as other peace agreements and standards around the world based on conflict resolution theory, such as political reform, boundary demarcation, truth and reconciliation mechanisms, natural resource management, a dispute resolution committee, human rights, amnesty, military and police reform, and the demobilization, and the disarmament and reintegration of former combatants[12]. From one perspective the fault lines laid not in its content, but rather in the lack of implementation of key clauses. This led to increased suspicion on the ground in Aceh toward the central government and its commitment to the peace process. The Human Rights Court and the TRC in particular were issues that were dividing opinion in Aceh with some believing that the past should be left alone with the focus on the future, while others felt that a solid foundation for peace was not possible without justice and reconciliation. The non-implementation of land distribution was also a cause of some tension, as the GAM/KPA leadership and the national government agreed on cash compensation rather parcels of land after the MoU was signed. However, not all stakeholders were aware of or agreed with this change.

It could be argued that immediately implementing these clauses word-for-word in line with the MoU could have caused more tension not only within Aceh but also with the central government. Opposition to the TRC and Human Rights Court was strong among nationalistic figures and security forces, while land is a sensitive issue as it is tied to identity in Aceh.

At the other end of the spectrum, Presidential Instruction No. 15 was in many ways ahead of itself and a bold initiative by the central government to demonstrate its commitment to the implementation of the MoU. Mainstreaming conflict-sensitive development into normal government structures is one of the goals of modern post-conflict assistance and is viewed as good practice[13]. However, the stumbling block of the Presidential Instruction was in the implementation. Despite efforts, the Coordinating Ministry for Politics, Legal and Security Affairs was largely unable to get the relevant government agencies to prioritize the provision of assistance and develop special policies to assist former combatants and conflict victims. Amongst government officials at the national level there was a feeling that Aceh was already receiving too much assistance from the national government and from foreign donors for both the post-tsunami and -conflict recovery efforts while other provinces were perennially racked by poverty and social issues less in the limelight. In Aceh, there was insufficient awareness of the Instruction among the public, who were focused on the MoU and the LoGA. These missing elements led to the Instruction being largely unimplemented.

The special autonomy funds that came into effect in 2008 have the potential to address post-conflict needs. However, as the Aceh Recovery Framework points out “the consolidation of peace in Aceh rests ultimately with the structural reform of society towards predictable, fair and transparent rules, mechanisms and procedures for the legitimate conduct of all levels of government, business and civil society”[14]. During the conflict, Aceh had the reputation of being one of the most corrupt provinces in the country[15]. Provincial and district government capacity to handle increased revenues efficiently was also lacking, and spending the increased revenue was problematic. In 2008, Aceh’s unspent budget rose to 33 percent. This lack of capacity to spend the funds effectively was becoming source of tension as people, particularly in conflict-affected areas, held high hopes for a better future, not only in terms of peace but also in terms of the provision fundamental services and opportunities to recover lost employment, in light of significant funds available to the provincial government[16].

BRA’s role in the peace process was central up until early 2009. Much of the focus on individual cash compensation for reintegrated combatants was the result of the central government’s narrow interpretation of the MoU rather than BRA’s policy. GAM leaders had also chosen only cash compensation rather than land and other in-kind support in contradiction to the MoU, which only offers “suitable farming land, employment or, in the case of incapacity to work, adequate social security”. By early 2009, there was a palpable sense of public dissatisfaction toward BRA from former combatants, political prisoners and conflict victims who felt they had missed out on assistance or didn’t receive enough. Push back from the central government against further increasing aid due to opposition from other regions and a feeling that more than enough had already be provided was clashing with expectations from former combatants and conflict victims. In this sense, public expectation of BRA was always greater than its authority and the central government allowed, which became a distinct source of tension. Tension between groups expecting assistance and those providing it are common in post-conflict societies. In Aceh this was exacerbated by the ambiguity in the MoU in defining the mechanisms and institutions for delivering assistance and the public expectation of BRA.

Fortunately in Aceh, the tsunami recovery effort filled the gaps in post-conflict assistance just enough to keep the peace. The MSR estimated that at least USD 529 million, or nine percent, of tsunami assistance indirectly addressed needs in post-conflict areas. This is 144 percent of the USD 365 million in specific post-conflict assistance. There was enough aid pouring into Aceh to allow enough people to benefit directly or indirectly from aid in one form or another to keep dissatisfaction from spilling in to violence.

Lessons from Aceh: Perfection Is Not the Aim

The lessons from the peace building legal frameworks in Aceh are easier to identify with hindsight. As practitioners know, there is often a difficult balance in conflict resolution that must be found between expediency and buy in. While development allows for time be taken for consultations and preparatory processes, the urgency and promise of a resolving conflict can necessitate bold decision making, compromises and short cuts. The initial period of the Aceh peace process was no exception. Below are a number of key lessons from Aceh nearly 10 years on.

The Presidential Instruction, while a good strategy, suffered from a lack of follow up and leadership from the Coordinating Ministry and the President. High-level planning and coordination led by the Coordinating Ministry together with the National Development Planning Agency and its provincial counterpart, and with the vocal support of the President, would have facilitated (or forced) more national and provincial departments and agencies to play an active role early in the peace process. As with the concurrent tsunami recovery process, there should have been a capable and authoritative agency, existing or ad-hoc, with strong backing from the President to oversee the peace process. Instead of relying on the BRA for the coordinating and monitoring of government aid for the peace process, the integrated whole-of-government approach espoused by the Presidential Instruction under strong leadership would have led to a less controversial and tension-ridden post-conflict recovery and reintegration process. Given the limited scope of its authority, the BRA may have been better served with working across the government, possibly in cooperation with international agencies and local NGOs, to increase capacity in research, needs assessments, program design, and conflict-sensitive programming.

In regard to the MoU, despite the clauses that had not been implemented as of early 2009, including the Human Rights Court and the TRC, it is still regarded as the key document in the peace process by all stakeholders. Agreement on the MoU probably would not have been reached in Helsinki in such a short time frame without the commitment from the GoI for institutions such as the TRC and for the distribution of land. However, after the signing, and with time to reflect, neither the Government nor the Aceh Transition Committee showed enthusiasm for implementing these clauses in the first four years of the peace process[17].

This raises the question about the need to absolutely implement peace agreements. As was the case in Aceh, peace agreements are often negotiated, drafted and signed in a relatively short period with enormous pressure on both sides to reach a deal. Post-conflict societies also undergo rapid political, social and economic change as fighting ceases. This change could bring about new or altered conditions for building peace that are not reflected in a formal peace agreement, which have traditionally been ‘static’ documents guiding fluid environments. Introducing options in peace agreements based on the results of public dialogue could be considered for future peace processes. In Aceh, non-implemented clauses were not publically discussed leading to tension that may have been diffused through such a dialogue. Ultimately peace agreements should only be judged on their effectiveness in keeping peace long term and allowing people to get on with their lives, and not by checking off what clauses have been implemented.



[1]The paper is based mainly on the findings of the Multi-Stakeholder Review of Post-Conflict Programming in Aceh (MSR), which was major research project carried out between May 2008 and December 2009 by a team of national and international researchers in Aceh. The MSR was supported by the World Bank, UNDP, USAID-Serasi, AusAID, the Embassy of the Netherlands and DFID. The National Agency for Development Planning (Bappenas), Desk Aceh within the Coordinating Ministry for Security, Politics and Law, and the Aceh Peace-Reintegration Board (BRA) provided valuable feedback and guidance throughout the process. It provided a framework and an analytical basis for future policies and programs, primarily for the government but also for donors, to consolidate sustainable peace and development in Aceh.

2 For example, in mid-March 2014, in the lead up to national elections, there were violent clashes including arson and shootings happening in Takengon in Central Aceh between Partai Aceh supporters and members of the Defenders of the Homeland (Pembela Tanah Air-PETA), the generic name for a group of pro-central government organisations and village self-defence groups.

[3]The Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami of 26 December 2004 resulted in the confirmed death of over 130,000 people in Indonesia – the vast majority in Aceh. Over half-million people were displaced. Damage and loss amounted to USD 6.1 billion. 120,000 houses were destroyed and 3,000 km of road, 2,000 school buildings, over 100 health centers, and about 60,000 hectares of agricultural land was damaged or destroyed. Add to this the 30,000 deaths and USD 10.7 billion in damage and loss from the conflict over 29 years and the dire situation of Aceh in 2005 become clearer.

[4] For the purpose of this paper the standard practices on reintegration and the broader peace building refer to approaches outlined in the Integrated Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Standards (IDDRS) from the Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG 2006) and the Stockholm Initiative of Disarmament Demobilisation Reintegration (SIDDR) by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sweden (2006).

[5] Licklider, Roy (1995), The Consequences of Negotiated Settlements in Civil Wars, 1945-1993, The American Political Science Review. Vol. 89, No. 3 (Sep., 1995), pp. 681-690. American Political Science Association.

[6] While there were other frameworks, such as the BRA, Bappenas and UNDP developed Rencana Strategis (Strategic Plan) of 2007, these were not seen as influential in the peace process during this initial period.

[7] These basic aims are common with the standard approaches spelled out in the Integrated Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Standards (IDDRS) from the Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG 2006) and the Stockholm Initiative of Disarmament Demobilisation Reintegration (SIDDR) by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sweden (2006). While the aims of the frameworks were in line with these standards, the implementation was sometimes unorthodox.

 

[8] World Bank (2008), Aceh Public Expenditures Analysis Update 2008. Banda Aceh: World Bank.

[9] Governor’s Decree No. 330/032/2006 on Formation of the Board for the Reintegration of Former Members of the Free Aceh Movement into Society; Governor’s Decree No. 330/106/2006 on Formation of the Aceh Peace-Reintegration Board; Governor’s Decree No. 330/213/2006 on the Organisational Structure of the Aceh Peace-Reintegration Board; Governor’s Decree No. 330/145/2007 on Formation of the Aceh Peace-Reintegration Board; Governor’s Decree No. 330/438/2008 on Formation of the Aceh Peace-Reintegration Board; and Governor’s Decree No. 330/320/2009 on Formation of the Aceh Peace-Reintegration Board.

[10] BRA’s counterpart for tsunami recovery, the Aceh-Nias Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency (BRR), was vastly different. BRR’s structure was established by Presidential Decree No. 76/2006. Its Director had national minister status and reported directly to the President. BRR had its own long-term funding directly from Jakarta for four years with the authority to decide how to use it. It had authority over all the major aspects of the tsunami recovery process including formulating strategies, implementing reconstruction, carrying out procurement, coordinating reconstruction by other government and non-government entities and managing budgets. This led to a more cohesive post-tsunami response.

[11] BRA’s Follow Up on the Helsinki Peace Framework: A Comprehensive Action Plan itself acknowledges that it was the “first attempt at developing a comprehensive peacebuilding strategy for the Aceh Peace process” while “recognizing that continued work is necessary to produce a robust strategy capable of sustaining and strengthening peace in Aceh.”

[12]For example, in a comparison of 33 peace accords from around the world (including the Helsinki MoU), 24 were shown to have articles addressing political and electoral reform, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants. Twenty-five address military reform and 23 police reform. The only stand out omission in the Helsinki MoU that is common in other peace accords was a clear reference to donor support (Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies 2012), but that was due to the fact that the Aceh peace process was led by the Government of Indonesia, with 47 percent of post-conflict funding coming from them up to late 2008 (MSR 2009).

[13] See Barbolet et al. (2005). The Utility and Dilemmas of Conflict Sensitivity. Berghof Research Center for Constructive Conflict Management. Berlin; and, UNDESA (2007). Governance Strategies for post-conflict reconstruction, sustainable peace and development. UNDESA. New York. Discussion Paper November 2007.

[14] Government of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam (2007). Aceh Recovery Framework 2008-2011. Banda Aceh: Government of

Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam.

[15] Even in 2008, out of 50 cities surveyed, Banda Aceh had the third highest perception of corruption in the country. Transparency International (2008). Measuring Corruption in Indonesia: Indonesia Corruption Perception Index 2008 and Bribery Index. Accessed at <http://www.ti.or.id/en/publication/all/tahun/2009/bulan/01/tanggal/21/id/3845/> October 9, 2009.

[16] Islahuddin (2010). Some Preliminary Notes on the Aceh Special Autonomy Fund and the Shared Oil and Gas Earning Fund. Crisis Management Initiative, Banda Aceh. Note that spending delivery increased to 95 percent in 2010 but has subsequently slumped again.

[17] There were legal issues around the establishment of the TRC after the national TRC law was annulled by the Constitutional Court on the grounds that it was in violation of Indonesia’s constitution (Law 27/2004 on the National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation), however, there wasn’t a lot of effort to explore alternative viable options or to consult with the broader public on the issue.

The Framework Puzzle

There were four key frameworks in the form of agreements and laws that formed the foundations for peace four years on from the MoU: the Helsinki Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), Presidential Instruction No. 15, the Law on the Governing of Aceh (LoGA), and the series of regulations defining the establishment and mandate of the Aceh Reintegration Agency (BRA)[6].

The frameworks were based on the premise that conflict usually reduces employment and education opportunities, diminishes government service provision, and increases personal debt, therefore former combatants and conflict victims need assistance in order to reintegrate and become actively involved in society again. Moreover, the frameworks aimed to reduce the push for the independence of Aceh from Indonesia through the provision of greater political autonomy and revenue, while remaining part of the unitary state. These are basic aims are common in most peace processes[7].

Helsinki MoU: The Breakthrough. The initial, overarching framework for the peace process was the Helsinki MoU signed on 15 August 2005. The document covered a range of topics such as governance arrangements, political participation, economy, human rights, amnesty, reintegration, security arrangements, and the formation of the Aceh Monitoring Mission. Article 3.2 is related to assistance to conflict actors and victims and states that a Reintegration Fund under the administration of the authorities of Aceh will be established and that the Government of Indonesia (GoI) “will allocate funds for the rehabilitation of public and private property destroyed or damaged as a consequence of the conflict to be administered by the authorities of Aceh.” Furthermore, the GoI “will allocate suitable farming land as well as funds to the authorities of Aceh for the purpose of facilitating the reintegration to society of the former combatants and the compensation for political prisoners and affected civilians”. Similarly, it states that all former combatants, pardoned political prisoners and all civilians who have “suffered a demonstrable loss due to the conflict….will receive an allocation of suitable farming land, employment or, in the case of incapacity to work, adequate social security from the authorities of Aceh.” Importantly, the MoU states that a Human Rights Court, a Commission for Truth and Reconciliation and a Joint Claims Settlement Commission will be established.

Presidential Instruction No. 15: The National Post-Conflict Policy. Presidential Instruction No. 15, signed on November 14, 2005 was to “take steps for the planning and policy for roles and functions” of 20 government ministries, bodies and agencies for the implementation of the MoU with the Coordinating Ministry of Politics, Legal and Security Affairs tasked with coordinating planning and policy, solving MoU disputes, and evaluating the implementation of the MoU. The President used the Instruction to establish a legal framework rather than attempting to pass legislation through the People’s Representative Council (national parliament) due to expected resistance and delays from Members of Parliament, who felt Aceh was being rewarded for its rebellion.

Law on Governing Aceh and Special Autonomy Funds: The Long-Term Opportunities. The largest monetary dividend from the peace process will eventually be the special autonomy funds. Based on Law No. 18/2001 on Special Autonomy for Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam and Law No. 11/2006 on the Governing of Aceh (LoGA), Aceh is expected to receive IRD 78.6 trillion (USD 7.9 billion) in additional revenue from the central government through to the end of 2027 (MSR 2009). Although this is not specified for post-conflict recovery purposes, it is linked to earlier and the most recent attempts at peace.

Through the LoGA, Aceh receives an additional two percent of the National General Allocation Fund for 15 years, and an additional one percent for five more years. Furthermore, both the Law on Special Autonomy and the LoGA stipulate that Aceh receive 70 percent of the revenue from oil and gas, compared with the usual provincial allocation of 15 and 30 percent respectively. Another important issue is the distribution of the special autonomy funds. In other provinces, 90 percent of the General Allocation Fund is given to district-level governments, with only ten percent going to the province. However, the Aceh provincial government receives 40 percent of the special autonomy funds, giving it unprecedented resources. Between 1999 and 2008 total provincial revenue at 2008 prices increased 15-fold due to these special allocations[8].

The Aceh Reintegration Agency: Loads of Responsibility and Lack of Authority. The last main set of regulations in the initial four year period of Aceh’s peace building process concerned the Aceh Reintegration Agency (BRA). Between its formation in February 2006 and early 2009, six Governor’s Decrees were passed on the formation, mandate and structure of the Board[9]. During this period, BRA was mandated with coordinating and monitoring the reintegration program. However, its authority was limited[10]. The MoU only refers to “authorities of Aceh” for the management of assistance and this later led to ambiguity of roles. It did not handle funds for reintegration, which was done mainly by the provincial Department of Social Affairs, but only identified the appropriate beneficiaries and monitored their receipt of funds. BRA was perceived by the public, including former combatants and conflict victims, as having the responsibility for the peace process, but in reality it did not have the authority to design strategies, secure funding and implement projects. For example it was blamed for the late provision of funds to beneficiaries by agencies such as the Ministry of Finance, the Budgetary Committee of the National Parliament, and the Ministry of Social Affairs through the provincial Department of Social Affairs. There were also tensions between the National Development Planning Agency and the BRA over roles and responsibilities in regard to strategies and approaches to fulfilling the MoU. The BRA’s own challenges included a lack of staff capacity and a comprehensive long term strategy[11].

 

The Fault Lines in the Framework

While the MoU and primary implementing legal frameworks are sound and display a healthy commitment from the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Merdeka Aceh-GAM) and Aceh Transitional Committee (Komite Peralihan Aceh – KPA), and the Governments of Aceh and Indonesia, there were many shortcomings and challenges in implementation.

The MoU addressed many of the same issues as other peace agreements and standards around the world based on conflict resolution theory, such as political reform, boundary demarcation, truth and reconciliation mechanisms, natural resource management, a dispute resolution committee, human rights, amnesty, military and police reform, and the demobilization, and the disarmament and reintegration of former combatants[12]. From one perspective the fault lines laid not in its content, but rather in the lack of implementation of key clauses. This led to increased suspicion on the ground in Aceh toward the central government and its commitment to the peace process. The Human Rights Court and the TRC in particular were issues that were dividing opinion in Aceh with some believing that the past should be left alone with the focus on the future, while others felt that a solid foundation for peace was not possible without justice and reconciliation. The non-implementation of land distribution was also a cause of some tension, as the GAM/KPA leadership and the national government agreed on cash compensation rather parcels of land after the MoU was signed. However, not all stakeholders were aware of or agreed with this change.

It could be argued that immediately implementing these clauses word-for-word in line with the MoU could have caused more tension not only within Aceh but also with the central government. Opposition to the TRC and Human Rights Court was strong among nationalistic figures and security forces, while land is a sensitive issue as it is tied to identity in Aceh.

At the other end of the spectrum, Presidential Instruction No. 15 was in many ways ahead of itself and a bold initiative by the central government to demonstrate its commitment to the implementation of the MoU. Mainstreaming conflict-sensitive development into normal government structures is one of the goals of modern post-conflict assistance and is viewed as good practice[13]. However, the stumbling block of the Presidential Instruction was in the implementation. Despite efforts, the Coordinating Ministry for Politics, Legal and Security Affairs was largely unable to get the relevant government agencies to prioritize the provision of assistance and develop special policies to assist former combatants and conflict victims. Amongst government officials at the national level there was a feeling that Aceh was already receiving too much assistance from the national government and from foreign donors for both the post-tsunami and -conflict recovery efforts while other provinces were perennially racked by poverty and social issues less in the limelight. In Aceh, there was insufficient awareness of the Instruction among the public, who were focused on the MoU and the LoGA. These missing elements led to the Instruction being largely unimplemented.

The special autonomy funds that came into effect in 2008 have the potential to address post-conflict needs. However, as the Aceh Recovery Framework points out “the consolidation of peace in Aceh rests ultimately with the structural reform of society towards predictable, fair and transparent rules, mechanisms and procedures for the legitimate conduct of all levels of government, business and civil society”[14]. During the conflict, Aceh had the reputation of being one of the most corrupt provinces in the country[15]. Provincial and district government capacity to handle increased revenues efficiently was also lacking, and spending the increased revenue was problematic. In 2008, Aceh’s unspent budget rose to 33 percent. This lack of capacity to spend the funds effectively was becoming source of tension as people, particularly in conflict-affected areas, held high hopes for a better future, not only in terms of peace but also in terms of the provision fundamental services and opportunities to recover lost employment, in light of significant funds available to the provincial government[16].

BRA’s role in the peace process was central up until early 2009. Much of the focus on individual cash compensation for reintegrated combatants was the result of the central government’s narrow interpretation of the MoU rather than BRA’s policy. GAM leaders had also chosen only cash compensation rather than land and other in-kind support in contradiction to the MoU, which only offers “suitable farming land, employment or, in the case of incapacity to work, adequate social security”. By early 2009, there was a palpable sense of public dissatisfaction toward BRA from former combatants, political prisoners and conflict victims who felt they had missed out on assistance or didn’t receive enough. Push back from the central government against further increasing aid due to opposition from other regions and a feeling that more than enough had already be provided was clashing with expectations from former combatants and conflict victims. In this sense, public expectation of BRA was always greater than its authority and the central government allowed, which became a distinct source of tension. Tension between groups expecting assistance and those providing it are common in post-conflict societies. In Aceh this was exacerbated by the ambiguity in the MoU in defining the mechanisms and institutions for delivering assistance and the public expectation of BRA.

Fortunately in Aceh, the tsunami recovery effort filled the gaps in post-conflict assistance just enough to keep the peace. The MSR estimated that at least USD 529 million, or nine percent, of tsunami assistance indirectly addressed needs in post-conflict areas. This is 144 percent of the USD 365 million in specific post-conflict assistance. There was enough aid pouring into Aceh to allow enough people to benefit directly or indirectly from aid in one form or another to keep dissatisfaction from spilling in to violence.

Lessons from Aceh: Perfection Is Not the Aim

The lessons from the peace building legal frameworks in Aceh are easier to identify with hindsight. As practitioners know, there is often a difficult balance in conflict resolution that must be found between expediency and buy in. While development allows for time be taken for consultations and preparatory processes, the urgency and promise of a resolving conflict can necessitate bold decision making, compromises and short cuts. The initial period of the Aceh peace process was no exception. Below are a number of key lessons from Aceh nearly 10 years on.

The Presidential Instruction, while a good strategy, suffered from a lack of follow up and leadership from the Coordinating Ministry and the President. High-level planning and coordination led by the Coordinating Ministry together with the National Development Planning Agency and its provincial counterpart, and with the vocal support of the President, would have facilitated (or forced) more national and provincial departments and agencies to play an active role early in the peace process. As with the concurrent tsunami recovery process, there should have been a capable and authoritative agency, existing or ad-hoc, with strong backing from the President to oversee the peace process. Instead of relying on the BRA for the coordinating and monitoring of government aid for the peace process, the integrated whole-of-government approach espoused by the Presidential Instruction under strong leadership would have led to a less controversial and tension-ridden post-conflict recovery and reintegration process. Given the limited scope of its authority, the BRA may have been better served with working across the government, possibly in cooperation with international agencies and local NGOs, to increase capacity in research, needs assessments, program design, and conflict-sensitive programming.

In regard to the MoU, despite the clauses that had not been implemented as of early 2009, including the Human Rights Court and the TRC, it is still regarded as the key document in the peace process by all stakeholders. Agreement on the MoU probably would not have been reached in Helsinki in such a short time frame without the commitment from the GoI for institutions such as the TRC and for the distribution of land. However, after the signing, and with time to reflect, neither the Government nor the Aceh Transition Committee showed enthusiasm for implementing these clauses in the first four years of the peace process[17].

This raises the question about the need to absolutely implement peace agreements. As was the case in Aceh, peace agreements are often negotiated, drafted and signed in a relatively short period with enormous pressure on both sides to reach a deal. Post-conflict societies also undergo rapid political, social and economic change as fighting ceases. This change could bring about new or altered conditions for building peace that are not reflected in a formal peace agreement, which have traditionally been ‘static’ documents guiding fluid environments. Introducing options in peace agreements based on the results of public dialogue could be considered for future peace processes. In Aceh, non-implemented clauses were not publically discussed leading to tension that may have been diffused through such a dialogue. Ultimately peace agreements should only be judged on their effectiveness in keeping peace long term and allowing people to get on with their lives, and not by checking off what clauses have been implemented.



[1]The paper is based mainly on the findings of the Multi-Stakeholder Review of Post-Conflict Programming in Aceh (MSR), which was major research project carried out between May 2008 and December 2009 by a team of national and international researchers in Aceh. The MSR was supported by the World Bank, UNDP, USAID-Serasi, AusAID, the Embassy of the Netherlands and DFID. The National Agency for Development Planning (Bappenas), Desk Aceh within the Coordinating Ministry for Security, Politics and Law, and the Aceh Peace-Reintegration Board (BRA) provided valuable feedback and guidance throughout the process. It provided a framework and an analytical basis for future policies and programs, primarily for the government but also for donors, to consolidate sustainable peace and development in Aceh.

2 For example, in mid-March 2014, in the lead up to national elections, there were violent clashes including arson and shootings happening in Takengon in Central Aceh between Partai Aceh supporters and members of the Defenders of the Homeland (Pembela Tanah Air-PETA), the generic name for a group of pro-central government organisations and village self-defence groups.

[3]The Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami of 26 December 2004 resulted in the confirmed death of over 130,000 people in Indonesia – the vast majority in Aceh. Over half-million people were displaced. Damage and loss amounted to USD 6.1 billion. 120,000 houses were destroyed and 3,000 km of road, 2,000 school buildings, over 100 health centers, and about 60,000 hectares of agricultural land was damaged or destroyed. Add to this the 30,000 deaths and USD 10.7 billion in damage and loss from the conflict over 29 years and the dire situation of Aceh in 2005 become clearer.

[4] For the purpose of this paper the standard practices on reintegration and the broader peace building refer to approaches outlined in the Integrated Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Standards (IDDRS) from the Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG 2006) and the Stockholm Initiative of Disarmament Demobilisation Reintegration (SIDDR) by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sweden (2006).

[5] Licklider, Roy (1995), The Consequences of Negotiated Settlements in Civil Wars, 1945-1993, The American Political Science Review. Vol. 89, No. 3 (Sep., 1995), pp. 681-690. American Political Science Association.

[6] While there were other frameworks, such as the BRA, Bappenas and UNDP developed Rencana Strategis (Strategic Plan) of 2007, these were not seen as influential in the peace process during this initial period.

[7] These basic aims are common with the standard approaches spelled out in the Integrated Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Standards (IDDRS) from the Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG 2006) and the Stockholm Initiative of Disarmament Demobilisation Reintegration (SIDDR) by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sweden (2006). While the aims of the frameworks were in line with these standards, the implementation was sometimes unorthodox.

 

[8] World Bank (2008), Aceh Public Expenditures Analysis Update 2008. Banda Aceh: World Bank.

[9] Governor’s Decree No. 330/032/2006 on Formation of the Board for the Reintegration of Former Members of the Free Aceh Movement into Society; Governor’s Decree No. 330/106/2006 on Formation of the Aceh Peace-Reintegration Board; Governor’s Decree No. 330/213/2006 on the Organisational Structure of the Aceh Peace-Reintegration Board; Governor’s Decree No. 330/145/2007 on Formation of the Aceh Peace-Reintegration Board; Governor’s Decree No. 330/438/2008 on Formation of the Aceh Peace-Reintegration Board; and Governor’s Decree No. 330/320/2009 on Formation of the Aceh Peace-Reintegration Board.

[10] BRA’s counterpart for tsunami recovery, the Aceh-Nias Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency (BRR), was vastly different. BRR’s structure was established by Presidential Decree No. 76/2006. Its Director had national minister status and reported directly to the President. BRR had its own long-term funding directly from Jakarta for four years with the authority to decide how to use it. It had authority over all the major aspects of the tsunami recovery process including formulating strategies, implementing reconstruction, carrying out procurement, coordinating reconstruction by other government and non-government entities and managing budgets. This led to a more cohesive post-tsunami response.

[11] BRA’s Follow Up on the Helsinki Peace Framework: A Comprehensive Action Plan itself acknowledges that it was the “first attempt at developing a comprehensive peacebuilding strategy for the Aceh Peace process” while “recognizing that continued work is necessary to produce a robust strategy capable of sustaining and strengthening peace in Aceh.”

[12]For example, in a comparison of 33 peace accords from around the world (including the Helsinki MoU), 24 were shown to have articles addressing political and electoral reform, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants. Twenty-five address military reform and 23 police reform. The only stand out omission in the Helsinki MoU that is common in other peace accords was a clear reference to donor support (Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies 2012), but that was due to the fact that the Aceh peace process was led by the Government of Indonesia, with 47 percent of post-conflict funding coming from them up to late 2008 (MSR 2009).

[13] See Barbolet et al. (2005). The Utility and Dilemmas of Conflict Sensitivity. Berghof Research Center for Constructive Conflict Management. Berlin; and, UNDESA (2007). Governance Strategies for post-conflict reconstruction, sustainable peace and development. UNDESA. New York. Discussion Paper November 2007.

[14] Government of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam (2007). Aceh Recovery Framework 2008-2011. Banda Aceh: Government of

Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam.

[15] Even in 2008, out of 50 cities surveyed, Banda Aceh had the third highest perception of corruption in the country. Transparency International (2008). Measuring Corruption in Indonesia: Indonesia Corruption Perception Index 2008 and Bribery Index. Accessed at <http://www.ti.or.id/en/publication/all/tahun/2009/bulan/01/tanggal/21/id/3845/> October 9, 2009.

[16] Islahuddin (2010). Some Preliminary Notes on the Aceh Special Autonomy Fund and the Shared Oil and Gas Earning Fund. Crisis Management Initiative, Banda Aceh. Note that spending delivery increased to 95 percent in 2010 but has subsequently slumped again.

[17] There were legal issues around the establishment of the TRC after the national TRC law was annulled by the Constitutional Court on the grounds that it was in violation of Indonesia’s constitution (Law 27/2004 on the National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation), however, there wasn’t a lot of effort to explore alternative viable options or to consult with the broader public on the issue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *