The Government of Norway and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have signed a partnership agreement to support the peace-building and conflict mediation capacities of women and the active engagement of youth in the Bangsamoro region. Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Bjørn Staurset Jahnsen and UNDP Philippines Resident Representative Dr. Selva Ramachandran launched the new partnership in a virtual ceremony on Tuesday 9 November 2020.
Bangsamoro is an autonomous region located in the southern Philippines in Muslim Mindanao.
Under the agreement, Norway and UNDP Philippines will work together with the government of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to revitalize the Bangsamoro Women’s Commission (BWC) and the Bangsamoro Youth Commission (BYC) through various capacity-building initiatives.
The Norway-UNDP partnership is aimed to provide support to women’s engagement in preventing violence and violent extremism in their communities. It also targets to strengthen the capacities of community-based women leaders and peacebuilders in promoting peace and development and in conflict mediation and negotiations and to establish the Web Platform for Women’s Rapid Action and Mobilization Platform (RAMP).
At the same time, the partnership will allow for the development and implementation of a regional plan on youth, peace, and security by the Bangsamoro Youth Commission, and the involvement of indigenous leaders in resolving horizontal violence. The initiative also aims to foster more active participation of the youth in the Bangsamoro through the Bangsamoro Youth Volunteer Program in partnership with the BYC.
Ambassador Jahnsen in his remarks said, “The Philippines is one of Norway’s priority countries for cooperation on women, peace, and security. We will continue supporting peace initiatives such as the inclusion of women and the youth in peace dialogues for lasting and sustainable peace.”
Norway has assisted the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) which is in charge of decommissioning combatants following the peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2014.
Dr. Ramachandran, for his part, highlighted that “UNDP and Norway share a long and sustained joint commitment to peace and development in the Philippines and around the world.
UNDP had worked closely with Norway in assisting the IDB. Through technical and operational assistance, UNDP has also worked directly with the government and the MILF since 2012 to bring about the peace agreement in 2014, and thereafter the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law and its implementation since 2018.