Norway promoting peace in the Sulu Archipelago

Norway is a consistent partner for peace efforts in the Philippines.

Norway’s Ambassador to the Philippines Bjørn Jahnsen recently visited the provinces of Sulu and Basilan to support a project with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), promoting sustainable peace in the island provinces. The three-year project will address the main drivers of instability in some of the fragile communities in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

“Inclusive governance and social cohesion at the community level are important measures to prevent radicalization and violent extremism,” says Ambassador Bjørn Jahnsen.

From L to R: Royal Norwegian Embassy in Manila Political Adviser Nikki Delfin, Second Secretary Stian Hegland, Basilan Governor Jim Salliman, Ambassador Bjørn Jahnsen, IOM Chief of Mission Kristin Dadey and IMO’s South Cotabato Regional Office Head, Marco Chime (Photo from the Provincial Information Office of Basilan)
Basilan Governor Hataman warmly welcomed Norway’s Ambassador to the Philippines by presenting the traditional clothing of the Yakan people, the ethnic group of Basilan (Photo from the Provincial Information Office of Basilan)

“I was therefore very pleased that the local government of Basilan and Sulu, organised peace seminars in their respective provinces that were very inclusive,” said the Ambassador.

The events entitled ‘Sustaining the Gains of Peace’, organised in co-operation with IOM and the Embassy, provided a platform for different sectors of the community, such as indigenous people, the religious sector, former combatants of separatist movements, women, the youth, and government line agencies, to come together to discuss peace and development in their communities.

Local officials and mayors from the provinces also attended the dialogue, recognising the importance of sustaining peace to boost economic development and promote education in their respective municipalities.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines provided crucial and excellent support for the visit both to Basilan and to Sulu, and Ambassador Jahnsen and his party had an engaging meeting with Commander of Western Mindanao Command, Lt. Gen. Cirilito E. Sobejana.

During the visit to the Sulu Archipelago, Ambassador Jahnsen promised to revisit the islands to review the progress of the project.

Ambassador Bjørn Jahnsen and Sulu Governor Sakur Tan (6th from R) together with the Mayors of the province of Sulu.

Norway is a consistent partner for peace in the Philippines. Since 2001, Norway has been the third-party facilitator in negotiations between in the Philippine Government (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Norway also supports the Bangsamoro peace process since 2010, initially as member of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) during the ceasefire operations between the MILF and the Philippine Government, and now through the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB).

Norway has several international representatives on the ground in Cotabato today and is the current Vice Chairman of IDB that oversees the decommissioning of former combatants from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Last year, Norway launched its Fourth Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security 2019 – 2021 that details Norway’s systematic focus on the gender perspective in implementing crosscutting peace and security initiatives. The Philippines is one of the priority countries for this Action Plan.

Norway is a candidate for the UN Security Council 2021-2022 and aims to defend a humanitarian and rules-based global order.

About Kevin Kristofer Magtalas

Communications Adviser; Ambassaden i Manila – Royal Norwegian Embassy in Manila

View all posts by Kevin Kristofer Magtalas

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