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Abstract

The study presents an analysis of the conflict resolution process in the Aceh conflict between the government of Indonesia (GoI) and the Free Aceh Movement (“Gerekan Aceh Merdeka” or GAM). Starting with unofficial efforts by the Indonesian side from mid-2003, which eventually led the parties to the negotiation table and to the signing of the Helsinki Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in August 2005, the peace process put an end to the 30-year conflict over the independence of Aceh. The peaceful resolution of the Aceh conflict will be examined using readiness theory, which posits the factors that lead parties to negotiate and indicates which factors contribute to success in reaching a mutual agreement. The aim of this study is twofold. The first aim is to better understand the factors that led to the MoU. The second aim of this research is to offer a systematic examination of the assumptions of readiness theory, which have been the subject of few case studies to date. The study's findings indicate that the Aceh process was characterized by an increase in the parties’ level of readiness – to the point of being fully ready to sign an agreement. In the pre-negotiation phase the motivation of both parties increased significantly, while the level of optimism rose moderately on the part of the GoI but not GAM, whereas during the negotiations motivation as well as optimism increased significantly on both sides. Nevertheless, the application of readiness theory to the case study also gives rise to a number of questions regarding the theory's hypotheses and scientific status.

Author Bio(s)

Amira Schiff is a Professor of Political Science. She teaches in the program on Conflict Management and Negotiation in Bar-Ilan University. She has written on various issues relating to conflict management and negotiation in the Israeli Palestinian Conflict in the conflict in Cyprus and in Sri Lanka. Email: a_schiff@netvision.net.il

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