The Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh: On the Difficult Road to Peace

The Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh: On the Difficult Road to Peace

The Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh: On the Difficult Road to Peace

The Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh: On the Difficult Road to Peace

Synopsis

Sheds light on the context, processes, and politics of ending the decades-long armed insurgency and building peace in Bangladesh's Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Excerpt

This occasional paper was developed as part of the International Peace Academy (IPA) research project Peacebuilding: Issues and Responses, which examined regional and national approaches to peace implementation and conflict resolution. It offers not only important perspectives on prospects for stability in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) in Bangladesh, but also important lessons for peace implementation more broadly.

The Chittagong Hill Tracts negotiations were unusual in that they were largely generated domestically. They were broadly successful, and the landmark agreement in 1997 ended two decades of armed insurgency.

The negotiations demonstrated that conflict prevention and resolution initiatives by governments and aggrieved communities can succeed. While donor governments did support the process, not least by promising to assist financially with implementation of an agreement, the CHT accord was not, as so many peace agreements have been, driven by international mediators, the UN, or regional or subregional organizations. However, implementation of the accord has been incomplete, as several thorny issues were left out of the accord or formulated in an ambiguous fashion. This was the case for the vexing issue of the presence of settlers in the tracts. Key aspects of the accord, such as military withdrawal, devolution of authority, and property rights, have not been implemented. The author makes several helpful recommendations for steps that could be taken by local, national, and international actors to ensure implementation of the accord and a lasting resolution to the conflict in the area.

This study dovetails with other research undertaken by the IPA, including a significant comparative project carried out jointly with the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford University. That project, the findings of which are collected in the book Ending Civil Wars: The Implementation of Peace Agreements, edited by Stephen John Stedman, Donald Rothchild, and Elizabeth M. Cousens, examines the chal-

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