Jakarta – Six years after the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR) was officially established during the bloc’s 21st summit in Cambodia, the organization was finally made operational on Thursday (1/2).
Marking the start of the AIPR’s activities was the signing of a Host Country Agreement by Jose Tavares, who represented Indonesia as the Foreign Ministry’s director general for ASEAN affairs and the AIPR’s first director general, Ambassador Rezlan Izhar Jenie, who was appointed on that post in October last year.
According to the ASEAN press release, the AIPR’s Governing Council held its first meeting in Jakarta in December 2013 to discuss, among other things, the AIPR’s work plan and the design of a reporting mechanism, but it took several more years for ASEAN’s slow consensus-building process to accept Indonesia’s offer to host the AIPR secretariat and pay the initial costs.
“This was result of Indonesia’s consistency toward the peace mission and to become the host for AIPR,” Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said after the signing of the agreement, adding that Indonesia would provide space for the secretariat’s office and funding for the next three years, “but the years after that would be shared with all countries.”
The AIPR came out of the ASEAN Political-Security Blueprint devised in 2011 when Indonesia last chaired ASEAN. It was established to be a research institute consisting of government representatives, think thanks and academics, with its main task to provide recommendations for government policies related to peace, conflict resolution and reconciliation in Southeast Asia.
Retno said the AIPR was important for helping ASEAN in facing the increasing uncertainty of new challenges, such as violent extremism, terrorism, border disputes and transnational organized crime. The institution’s strategic purpose would be in line with Indonesia’s active role in conflict resolution in the past, such as the Cambodian peace talks in 1991 and conflict resolution in South Mindanao from 1993 to 1996.
“We will see from the experience within the area where there were some [problems] able to be resolved with peaceful dialogue and using facilities from within the ASEAN countries,” Amb. Rezlan said.
He said his main concern was to focus on existing challenges. “Of course, as of right now I cannot say much but we are going to compile the best practices the countries have made so far that can be used as guidance if needed,” he said.
He said a term of reference of the AIPR remained non-intervention in a country’s sovereignty.