The peace talks at the Philippines

The armed conflict between the Philippine authorities and the NDFP communist movement has lasted for more than 45 years, with intermittent peace talks being held since 1986.

Norway has acted as facilitator of the talks since 2001. Since then, Norway has played an active part in the process, and several rounds of negotiations and confidential talks have been held in Oslo. However, negotiations have broken down several times.

Inequitable distribution of wealth and a lack of access to the political arena are two of the core issues in the conflict. The Communist Party of the Philippines was formed in 1968, and its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), was established in 1969. The communist movement led the fight against President Marcos' dictatorship during the 1970s and 1980s. The movement claims to fight for genuine democracy and social justice, and for national liberation from foreign imperialists and from the country's corrupt elite. The negotiations are focusing on a number of issues, including social and economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, a bilateral ceasefire, and bringing an end to the conflict.

President Duterte, who was elected in May 2016, has put peace high on the agenda, and in August 2016 the peace talks were formally resumed in Oslo, after a five-year impasse. Both parties have committed themselves to a unilateral ceasefire for an indefinite period, and this in itself is historic. See the press release here. A new round of talks was held in Oslo in October 2016, and the next round is due to be held in January 2017.

The peace process with the MILF

Norway has also been playing a leading role in the independent mechanism to decommission the Muslim rebel group MILF in Mindanao, after a peace agreement between the Philippine Government and the MILF was signed in spring 2014.