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Mahidol University (Thailand)
Anurug Chakma, ‘Understanding Grassroots Peacebuilding: Key Lessons from the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), Bangladesh’, Journal of Human Rights and Peace Studies, 3(1) 2017: 1-34.
In the decade-old ethnic conflict of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), the Liaison Committee and Dialogue Committee, among many grassroots actors, have played a vital role in initiating negotiation and finally concluding the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord (1997) between the government of Bangladesh and Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti (PCJSS). On the contrary, as also observed in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and Northern Ireland, several grassroots actors are also spoiling the peace process of the CHT through reinforcing pre-existing ethnic divides and deteriorating the law and order situation. Hence, this study attempts to discover those grassroots actors and interventions that influence (negatively or positively) peacebuilding in the CHT, while also identifying domestic and international challenges that might lead to peacebuilding disaster in the CHT. This study is based on desk research that has produced a database on reported grassroots interventions of the last two years using two leading local newspapers. Based on the analysis of the dataset combined with the Geographic Information System (GIS) supported by relevant secondary literatures, it can be asserted that grassroots actors of the CHT were and are still now influential not only as human rights defenders and service providers but also as spoilers in the most conflict-affected upazilas of the CHT. This paper also argues that peacebuilding in the CHT is at risk from the recurrence of conflict due to a number of contextual factors.