Benedicto R. Bacani

The Mindanao Peace Talks

United States Institute of Peace


The drawn-out peace talks that began in 1997 between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are entering a critical stage as negotiations on substantive aspects are scheduled to commence in February 2005 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. An agreement with the MILF is an important piece in finding a solution to more than three decades of secessionist insurgency in the southern Philippines. A settlement will also boost global efforts to put a lid on the resurgence of Islamic extremism in Southeast Asia. This report explains the origins of the conflict, the evolution of the peace process, and the challenges facing both sides. It also recommends measures for a successful resolution. This is the first report from the Philippines Facilitation Project of the United States Institute of Peace. The report was written by Benedicto R. Bacani, dean of the College of Law, Notre Dame University in Cotabato City, Philippines and currently a senior fellow in the Institute’s Jennings Randolph Program for International Peace. Bacani is completing a book on autonomy as a solution to violent conflicts, drawing on lessons from the experiences of the southern Philippines.