The peace process in Mindanao

ABSTRACT: This paper examines the peace process in Mindanao, Philippines, situating it within broader national and international political economies.  The paper argues that the root causes of the conflict can be found in the long-term processes of state formation and capital penetration in the region which have resulted in the displacement and marginalization of the indigenous groups of Mindanao under consecutive Spanish, American, and independent Philippines control.  Examining the peace process within this context, it mainstream approaches to peace processes that focus on particular “actors” (e.g. spoilers, third party interventions) and “technologies” (e.g. commitment mechanisms) provide some insights into the failure to achieve a lasting peace in the region, but that a full explanation requires consideration this structural contexts.  Formal peace processes are often embedded within wider developmental programmes and the tensions and interactions within this broader dynamic are important to understand.  In Mindanao, while the formal peace process has moved towards explicitly addressing root concerns of the local population, the wider “peace through development” package promoted by the international community is, in fact, exacerbating many of the economic tensions behind the conflict.