Bandillo: Elisabeth Slåttum and the GRP-NDF Peace Process


“I am sad to see Elisabeth Slåttum go, the appointment of Idun Tvedt is a great encouragement for us,” Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Erik Førner said during a lunch he tendered at his official residence for the NDFP Delegation to the GRP-NDFP Peace Process. 

According to Førner, both women are highly regarded in the Norwegian Foreign Service and their knowledge and experience in peace and reconciliation matters are truly impressive. Both served in the facilitation team that successfully delivered the peace process between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) last year. 

Let’s talk about the very amiable and energetic Slåttum first. Idun Tvedt deserves another column. 

Slåttum in her very grateful and emotional farewell speech before the NDFP delegation, she disclosed that her decision is quite personal. That she wanted to give more time to her growing boys. But she promised to monitor the process and would be happy to see it successfully concluded. 

Prior to her appointment as peace envoy, Slåttum is an experienced facilitator who was part of the initial secret negotiations and also in the formal phase between the Colombian government and FARC rebels, which resulted in the recently announced peace deal. 

She assumed the role as facilitator of Philippine peace talks in 2014 and was behind an aborted attempt to revive it in 2015 during the Aquino presidency. 

With great energy and gracious countenance, Slåttum facilitated all the rounds of GRP-NDF talks in Europe. She steered the re-affirmation of previously signed documents, reconstitution of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), the release of 19 NDF consultants and the accelerated process for the negotiations. 

Among the documents that were re-affirmed were The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992, Breukelen Joint Statement of 1994, the JASIG, and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law or CAR-HR/IHL.

After the collapse of talks in February, she was undaunted. She remained focused and determined to bring the parties back to the table which led to the successful Fourth Round in April in Noordwijk, The Netherlands.

President Duterte in May and July ordered the cancellation of the formal and informal negotiations with the NDF, respectively, but has not officially or formally terminated the peace process.

In order for both parties to terminate the talks, both must furnish the third party negotiator — the Royal Norwegian Government — their official statements of withdrawal from the talks.

Slåttum during those rounds would always remind that a peace process is not a zero sum game where there is one winner and one loser. 

“A successful peace process is when both parties come out on the winning side,” she said, adding, however, that either side may not perfectly content of the outcomes because some decisions they have to make will not be popular. 

“Both sides make painful consensus along the way. Both sides need a great deal of courage,” she pointed out. “Much is at stake for both parties,” she said. 

This is why, Slåttum said, the peace process needs the patience, support and involvement of the Filipino people. That it is not easy to negotiate peace, thus, most attempts failed miserably around the world. Most, she said, find it easier to continue with war rather than to continue working and sacrificing for peace. 

RNG’s role

Norway works with parties in conflict that are not yet at the table and it tries to bring them to the table. It’s foreign policy, traditionally and historically, has been based on liberal democratic values. 

Also, Norway is a very wealthy country with enormous natural resources. There’s a feeling of moral obligation to share that wealth and contribute to peace and development. 

With a population of only five million, it is among the Top 10 richest countries in the world with a per capita income of $68,430 or around P3,200,000.

Over the last 30 years, only 10 percent of the world’s conflicts have been solved through military victories. The vast majority are solved through dialogue.

Thus, regardless of whoever political party is in power, there is a covenant, a consensus among all political parties in Norway to support peace processes around the world.

We wish Amb. Elisabeth Slåttum the best on her next undertaking. We could not thank her more.  We also wish Amb. Idun Tvedt all the best. #


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