A delegation of 18 leaders and representatives from the Bangsamoro community have just returned from a weeklong official visit to Europe during which they learnt about models of federalism and decentralised forms of government, as well as European experiences of government.

The delegation was composed of leaders from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), as well as Bangsamoro political representatives and members of women’s organisations, youth groups and indigenous people’s associations.

The study tour, the first ever organised to Europe for a Bangsamoro delegation including both MILF and MNLF representatives, sought to expose members of the delegation to models of democratic governance and options to ensure effective relations between national and sub-national governments.

It also sought to encourage a shared understanding among MILF and MNLF representatives of effective self-governance for the future Autonomous Region, and was an opportunity for the delegates to present the current status of the Mindanao peace process to representatives from the European Union (EU).

From 8 to 14 October, the delegation met with Government leaders, Parliament members, academics and civil society representatives at both national and sub-national level in Germany and Belgium, as well as with representatives from the EU.

In Berlin and Dusseldorf, Bangsamoro representatives discussed the German political parties and federal system, the roles of the Bundestag and Bundesrat, as well as the functions of the state assembly. They also met with representatives of the Flemish Parliament in Brussels to learn about the Belgian model of federalism.

In meetings with representatives of the European External Action Service in Brussels, MILF and MNLF delegates were also able to discuss the current status of the peace process, prospects for the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, as well as their concerns about the current situation in the city of Marawi.

They expressed their gratitude for the EU’s support for the peace process, recognising its important role in the implementation of the Bangsamoro peace accords.

The study tour, entitled ‘Bangsamoro Mission on Peaceful Democratic Sub-national Government’, was organised jointly by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, a German political foundation, the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD), a Swiss-based private diplomacy organisation, and the Institute for Autonomy and Governance, a Mindanao-based public policy centre, with support from the EU’s Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (ICSP).

Through this weeklong visit, members of the Bangsamoro delegation have gained a better understanding of effective governance models and co-operation between governments at different levels (local, national, federal).

The study visit was also an opportunity for increased dialogue and co-operation between the participants, notably MNLF and MILF representatives.

The Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) has been active in the Philippines peace process since 2005.

HD is one of the founding members of the International Contact Group which has been assisting negotiations between the Government and the MILF since 2009. In this capacity, HD has provided regular technical support to the parties. HD is currently also present in Cotabato, and in Sulu through its local partner organisation, Tumikang Sama-Sama, helping to mediate endemic clan conflicts.

In addition, the organisation supports inclusivity in the peace process by working with youth and women’s groups, and supporting the convergence between the MILF and MNLF.