Broken Promises and Brutal realities: implementation of the 1997 Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord in Bangladesh

Start date: 12 May, 2013 End date: 30 June, 2013 Project type: Master's Thesis (prior to 2018) Project code: A22234 Countries: Bangladesh Institutions: University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark Grant recipient: Nishan Prasana Krishnapalan Total grant: 17,000 DKK



Negotiated peace settlements terminating a civil war are different from the interstate wars, as one of the counterparts; usually the rebels have to disarm and cease to exist. It thereby creates a possibility for the government to take advantage of this new power balance for its own good. This has been the case of Bangladesh where the 1997 Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord resulted in the Shanti Bahini, an indigenous peoples’ insurgency group, had to disarm and cease to exist as part of the agreement. Now, almost 16 years after the signing, large parts of the agreement addressing the root problems of the conflict have not yet been effectively implemented. Leading scholars within Bargaining Theory of War argue that incorporating provisions in the agreement can ensure an effective implementation, which in the case of Bangladesh can keep the government on the right track of implementation. However, the Bangladesh Armed Forces, which is formally under the control of the Government of Bangladesh, plays a significant political role in the implementation failure due to different vested interest in the region. This thesis will consequently look into the reasons to why the Government of Bangladesh lacks the necessary commitment to effectively implement the agreement. In addition to why the Bangladesh Armed Forces are working against the implementation as well as how it is possible for the military to take control of the civilian regime to pursue its interest.


This thesis will argue that the Government of Bangladesh lacks sufficient commitment to implement the 1997 Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord due to lack of cost-increasing provisions. Especially having a third-party, which can oversee the implementation with an authority to sanction, will be the most effective. The reason to why the Bangladesh Armed Forces are against the implementation is due to the fact that the army during the insurgency period has created a military de facto state in the CHT with several vested interests. These interests will nevertheless be reduced if the 1997 Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord is fully implemented thereby creating and incentive for the military to be against the agreement. The structural factors and especially the perceived high internal threat environment have created a justification for the military’s large presence and control over the civilian regime in the CHT.