Engagements in Southeast Asia
Mediators Beyond Borders International (MBBI) supports conflict management and peacebuilding activities in South and Southeast Asia. Practitioners of MBBI and MBB Consulting have combined decades of experience in peacebuilding and alternative dispute resolution with deep experience working across the world and in South and Southeast Asia.
In 2011, fighting between the government and the Kachin Independence army resumed, breaking a 17-year long ceasefire. The conflict in Kachin has created a humanitarian crisis. Brought together by the Myanmar Peace Center, Civil Society Organizations, armed groups, and an anonymous Broker/Intermediary, MBBI has been providing capacity-building with the armed groups to prepare to transition to political and civilian life. To-date approximately 200 ex-combatants have been trained on Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration; mediation; negotiation; and building a culture of peace in their communities. MBBI will conduct five more trainings and bring groups of a dozen armed group members to other post-conflict regions to learn best practices and lessons learned from groups who have already gone through successful peace processes.
More than 4,400 people have been killed and thousands more injured in Thailand’s southern border provinces since a long-running separatist conflict reignited in 2004. The government of Malaysia became the official mediator in this conflict, but peace talks are stalled. MBBI was brought in by the KPI of the Thai government; MARA Patani, the political wing of the armed group; BRN, the armed group; and Permas, a civil society organization that has served as a broker/intermediary. With the BRN, MBBI has held numerous meetings to advocate that dialogue with the government is an valuable process to resolve the conflict. With the MARA Patani, MBBI has met with high-level political leaders to train about peace process best practices and lessons learned from the Free Aceh Movement. The goal of this project is to initiate a dialogue with dignity in peace, with the MARA/BRN engaging more effectively.
Aceh experienced 32 years of war and is currently conducting a truth and reconciliation process. MBBI was brought in by the Truth and Reconciliation team, victims of the violence, and civil societ yorganizations to lead community workshops. MBBI leads events that explore what community members want from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), discuss human rights, and train about international best practice and lessons learned in other peace processes and TRC’s. These events are mixed with cultural events and give sanctuary to victims to explore their hopes, fears, and moving forward. The community workshops occur every two months. This project aims to humanize victims of violence as valuable community members, increase economic opportunities, document state-led violence, and improve the resiliency of community members.
Additionally, MBBI held its 2016 International Training Institute (ITI) in Jakarta. The cohort included 25 women from Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, Myanmar, and Thailand in Southeast Asia where unresolved traumas of factional violence, and interfaith, interethnic, and intranational conflicts present recurrent obstructions to the personal and economic wellbeing of individuals, organizations, and governments. ITIs support the implementation of UN Security Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security, and UN General Assembly Resolution 65/283, to strengthen the role of women in conflict transformation, peaceful dispute settlement, and conflict prevention by preparing leader to accept new roles in peacebuilding. (Learn more).
MBBI's South and Southeast Asia engagements are led by Shadia Marhaban. Ms. Marhaban was the only woman delegate to the 2005 Helsinki peace talks that ended 30 years of conflict between the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement. As a presidium member of the Aceh Referendum Information Center, she was forced to flee to the United States in 2003, when the central government declared martial law in Aceh. Ms. Marhaban became a fervent human rights activist in the US, continuing to represent SIRA as its international relations chief. Upon her return to Aceh after the Helsinki peace accord, she served for a year as a special anti-corruption adviser to the governor. More recently, as president and co-founder of the Aceh Women’s League, Ms. Marhaban helps female former combatants return to civilian life. She also chairs the national caucus for implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which requires parties in a conflict to support women’s participation in peace negotiations and reconstruction. Ms. Marhaban has advocated for women’s peacebuilding involvement in South Thailand, Mindanao (Philippines), Timor-Leste, and Nepal. Working with former Finnish President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari, she has traveled across South and Southeast Asia promoting women’s engagement in post-conflict management. Ms. Marhaban studied international relations at Jakarta’s National University and is a 2011-2012 Fellow at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, researching post-conflict management, gender, and political transformation.