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Challenging to link development aid and humanitarian assistance with peace negotiations

Post-doc Gyda Marås Sindre examines in a new article attempts to link development aid and humanitarian assistance with peace negotiations in Aceh and Sri Lanka. The main finding is that such a link may have positive effects, but also divert attention away from core conflict issues.

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Illustration photo: the Sri Lankan flagg.
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The Aceh and Sri Lanka conflicts

In the article ‘Rebels and aid in the context of peacebuilding and humanitarian disaster: A comparison of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the Tamil Tigers (LTTE)’, published in Forum for Development Studies (41/1. pp. 1-21), post-doc Gyda Marås Sindre of the Department of Comparative Politics investigates attempts to link development aid and humanitarian assistance with peace negotiations in Aceh and Sri Lanka. In both cases rebel groups – the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) in Aceh and the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) in Sri Lanka – were involved in bloody wars against government forces.

 

Positive and negative effects

Sindre finds that the rebel groups used the international negotiations to increase their influence over the administration of foreign aid in order to strengthen their political standing.

Taken together, Sindre concludes that such linking of development aid and humanitarian assistance to peace negotiations can have both positive and negative effects. On the one hand, it may facilitate the provision of necessary help, and, in the case of the GAM, contribute to the transformation of a rebel group into a political party. On the other hand, it may divert attention away from core conflict issues.