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Tamilnation > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Conflict Resolution - Tamil Eelam - Sri Lanka > Norwegian Peace Initiative > Interim Self Governing Authority & Aftermath > Securing Peace: An Action Strategy for Sri Lanka - A Report Prepared for the Center for Strategic and International Studies

Norwegian Peace Initiative

Securing Peace: An Action Strategy for Sri Lanka -
A Report Prepared by Princeton University
for the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), June 2004
[see also full text in
pdf ]

"In our view, resolution of the Sinhalese political party struggle is the top priority. This (intra Sinhala) conflict—whatever the merits of the arguments—is selfish in the short-term and self defeating in the long-term. The country is ready for peace. The LTTE is ready to continue negotiations. The world cannot understand why Sri Lanka does not move ahead to peace. All parties need to seize this moment, honor their constituents’ faith in them, and settle their dispute immediately. The critical next steps we explore in this report will go unaddressed if this issue is not resolved immediately."...


The authors of the Report state that it is based on the following assumptions -

"The GoSL is committed to maintaining a unified country under Colombo’s control. The LTTE, until recently, have been committed to the creation of an independent “Eelam,” or Tamil state. Positions have softened through negotiations and a common desire for peace. Both parties are now willing to concede to a federal solution, wherein the country remains unified but a degree of power and autonomy is devolved to local authorities. The current peace process therefore entails devolving powers from the central Government to the North and the East (at a minimum) and granting these regions a degree of autonomy. However, these regions, to be governed by an Interim Authority, are to remain a part of the country of Sri Lanka.

This report assumes that the peace process, as conceived, is working towards an end state that is both workable and desirable for the chief parties to the conflict. A federalist solution – a unified country with devolved powers – offers a governing framework in which the two main parties to the conflict can realize their goals. Current difficulties over the scope and extent of devolution, sequencing of reforms and demilitarization, and levels of mutual trust are real challenges, but they do not indicate that the peace process itself is misguided or unrealistic.

Furthermore, this report assumes that the two main parties – the GoSL and LTTE – are participating in the peace process with good intent. Federalism is a model that both parties are willing to attempt in order to end the conflict. While we expect that high levels of mistrust and suspicion will continue, the report assumes that both the GoSL and the LTTE are willing, in principle, to make concessions in order to avoid the possibility of relapsing into armed conflict."

Further excerpts:

Recognizing the complexity of the Sri Lankan conflict and the many obstacles to its ultimate resolution, this report does not purport to establish a comprehensive conflict analysis framework...

It is important to acknowledge that several of the key obstacles to peace identified in this report could be most effectively addressed through reforms to the current constitution. For example, the inevitable institutional gridlock that is created through the often competing authority of the President and Prime Minister almost certainly needs to be resolved. Parliament has failed to find a solution that received the required 2/3 supermajority vote in the past. Although we have opted not to delve into the complex legal arguments in support of proposed constitutional reforms, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for a peace agreement to be signed without them.

Likewise, a constitutional amendment is necessary to address the issue of federalism and devolution of power from the central Government to the Interim Administration and/or Provincial Councils (or other potential regional bodies). This report also does not take a position on the type of federalism, i.e. symmetrical or asymmetrical devolution, that should be pursued in Sri Lanka, although it is deemed improbable that power could be afforded to the North East province(s) without similar desires for local control emerging throughout the country. The report also avoids comment on whether the North and the East should be treated as one province or two. While these issues are critical to a long term solution, it is our view that the relevant Sri Lankan actors must internally resolve the nature of power devolution over the course of ongoing peace negotiations.

"The protracted civil war in Sri Lanka has left a legacy of resentment and mistrust between the country’s ethnic groups. Decades of Sinhalese state-sponsored institutional discrimination against the Tamil minority polarized the two major communities and created inequalities that persist to this day."...

"For years the SLFP and the UNP have vied for control of the Government....Although both parties see peace as desirable, political opportunism has triumphed over the creation of a unified plan to peace and negotiations with the LTTE. Political leaders who are unable to separate peace from political gain plague Sri Lanka...Competition for political power in Sri Lanka has made cooperation in pursuit of peace impossible. Either party’s peace initiatives are part of a zero-sum game that involves statesmanlike prestige and nationalist appeals."...

"In our view, resolution of the Sinhalese political party struggle is the top priority. This conflict—whatever the merits of the arguments—is selfish in the short-term and self defeating in the long-term. The country is ready for peace. The LTTE is ready to continue negotiations. The world cannot understand why Sri Lanka does not move ahead to peace. All parties need to seize this moment, honor their constituents’ faith in them, and settle their dispute immediately. The critical next steps we explore in this report will go unaddressed if this issue is not resolved immediately."...

"..One of the most organized and influential voices in Sri Lankan society - the Buddhist clergy - remains committed to, and vocally promotes, the idea of a united Sri Lanka. It believes Sri Lankan nationalism will be compromised by the creation of a federalist state. The message from the Buddhist clergy to the people of the South is clear: the ruling of Sri Lanka should be done by one central Government. With few alternative messages to counteract this perspective, it remains a centerpiece of Sinhalese views on federalism. The failure of political elites to proactively support federalism and acknowledge the current state of de facto devolution enables misinformation and nationalistic perspectives to predominate..."

"....The LTTE, at least partially and in the short term, is going to govern the North-East region. The international community’s constructive engagement of the LTTE—as opposed to isolation—will give the international players a more productive role in promoting peace, development, fair representation and human rights, which will be key to keeping residents satisfied and the central Government from interfering. This means more openness and transparency in providing aid to LTTE-controlled areas, more formal bilateral and multilateral contacts and partnerships between the LTTE leadership and key international players, and open recognition that the LTTE is the political leadership of the ISGA.

LTTE engagement by the international community is critical to facilitating the flow of aid and commerce that people need to see as peace dividends in the areas they control. In addition, the LTTE leadership is more likely to become moderate if its members are exposed to the rest of the world.

The United States should use removal of the LTTE from its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations—a condition that makes fundraising, diplomatic relations, and official travel difficult for them—as a carrot for getting the group to comply with various requests.

Provide a guarantee of meaningful LTTE/Tamil representation in the central Government via seats in Parliament and possibly a position in the Government. The GoSL needs to bring the LTTE into the mainstream of democratic decision-making in order to insure their interest in the functioning of the Sri Lankan state. The LTTE’s current ISGA proposal defines the jurisdiction of the proposed province, but does not explicitly delineate the ISGA’s duties and roles in the central Government. The LTTE must offer a vision for its political participation in the GoSL after the ISGA...."


 

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