Secretary Deles: PH can learn a lot from Northern Ireland’s Good Friday Agreement

A March 3, 2011 press release by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process

Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles on Monday said that the Philippines can learn a lot from the so-called Good Friday Agreement that ended the bloody conflict in Northern Ireland in 1998.

In her first meeting with the staff of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) after arriving from an official trip to Europe and Saudi Arabia, Deles pointed out how the Good Friday Agreement, also known as the Belfast Agreement, is a good model for the country’s peace process because “protracted and seemingly intractable conflict was resolved.”

The Good Friday Agreement was a major political development in the Northern Ireland peace process. It established the Northern Ireland Assembly with devolved legislative powers and marked a de-escalation of violence with the rebels.

“I actually saw that there were things that they had done that we could study more and try to apply in some way,” observed Sec. Deles. “There was a lot to learn about how they did the disarmament.”

She also mentioned the Good Friday Agreement’s “sufficient consensus.”

“Once we define the sufficient consensus, and what constitutes it, i.e. the point where majority of the party agrees, then it will be easier for us to go through the peace process,” stated the OPAPP chief. “Of course, the one from Northern Ireland is different because their parties are well-defined, so here, we need to define the parties that needed to agree.”

Deles was quick to add, however, that although the Good Friday Agreement was a good model, there are still no fixed templates that can aid with the peace process. In achieving peace in these parts, there will still be a lot of studies needed, as well as further cooperation from all parties.

During the meeting, Deles reported relevant details regarding her recent travel, including updates and other progress involving the peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) in Oslo, Norway, and the 4th Tripartite Meeting of the government, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

She also briefly recounted her meetings during the London leg of her travel, where she met with Jonathan Powell, former Chief of Staff to then British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and with Nobel Peace Prize awardee David Trimble, who was once the leader of Northern Ireland’s Ulster Unionist Party.