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Home > Struggle for Tamil Eelam Conflict Resolution - Sri Lanka - Tamil Eelam > Centre for Just Peace and Democracy (CJPD) > International Seminar: Envisioning New Trajectories for Peace in Sri Lanka > Opening Remarks, Nadesan Satyendra, Adviser, Centre for Justice and Peace, Geneva > Opening Remarks, Dr. Norbert Ropers , Director, Berghof  Foundation, Colombo, Sri Lanka > Index of Seminar Papers > Index of Fact Sheets > List of Participants

International Seminar:
Envisioning New Trajectories for Peace in Sri Lanka
Organized by the Centre for Just Peace and Democracy (CJPD)
in collaboration with the Berghof Foundation, Sri Lanka
Zurich, Switzerland 7 - 9 April 2006

Opening Remarks
Dr. Norbert Ropers ,
Director, Berghof  Foundation, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Good morning! Ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues and friends.  

We gave the title 'New Trajectories for Peace in Sri Lanka' to this effort, this joint effort, based in a way on the metaphor, Mr. Satyendra just shared with us from Ury and Fischer, hoping that we can move beyond just putting positions to each other.  

Our effort in a way is based on three assumptions. The first of these assumptions is that the protractedness of the Sri Lankan Conflict and more recently the protractedness of the Sri Lankan Peace Process does not only need a political breakthrough but it also needs an intellectual breakthrough.  

This is a quotation from the paper of Prof. Uyangoda who will be our first speaker and I think this is an assumption of many sitting in this room, particularly those of us coming originally from academia thinking that, if there is a problem in the real world outside there then, systematic reflection and theoretical research will help to inspire us to find ways forward.  

There is a famous saying from John Paul Lederart, a particular hero in the field of conflict resolution, that �if you want to move processes like peace processes forward you first have to undertake an intellectual effort of complexifying�, meaning you have to understand the complexities of the conflict and the peace process.  

But at one stage, you have to be capable of simplifying it.  You have to identify what are the decisive steps to be taken to move forward and I think this is also a particular challenge for us here, today and tomorrow.  How do we move from the complexifying analysis in all these papers that you have put together to some simplifying conclusions which will help us to identify the way forward.  

The second assumption is that, I think it�s not, by chance that many of you are indeed coming from academia. You all know that the Sri Lankan Conflict belongs to the most researched conflicts among all the conflicts around the world and I think there are several reasons for that.  In the past many people reflected on that �why is that?�  Is that because this is a kind of substitute for finding practical ways forward and out of this conflict? Is it in a way a substitute for addressing the conflict itself or are we now preparing a body of knowledge which at one stage will switch from quantity to quality?  My hope still is that the quantitative stage can lead to a new quality of insights and the wealth of papers we have got for today and tomorrow hopefully will also lead to this quality switch.  

The third assumption is, and Mr. Satyendra outlined that particularly,  that there is a need in conflict situations like this to open up to understand the world from the perspective of the other side. If one does not do that then all academic analysis will not be sufficient.  

Now theses three assumptions guided us when we brainstormed while preparing this seminar and how to identify the sessions and the clusters of issues. After many efforts to come up with something reasonable, we identified altogether seven issue areas to prepare the final session. The final session being the one where we would inspire all of you who have come up with a re-envisioning of how to move the peace process forward.  

These seven preparing issues areas are,  

First issue area: To look at the root causes of the conflict and particularly at those factors which have led to the Cease Fire.

Now, there are three basic insights from conflict resolution which are relevant here. Number one is if you do not address the root causes you will never substantially resolve the conflict. Number two: do not get dragged into a hierarchy of blaming who did what to whom, because that might not be a very good approach for conflict resolution. And at the same time number three: particularly for asymmetric conflicts if you do not acknowledge what has happened in the past it will be very difficult to move forward.  

Our understanding was that it was particularly important to understand the window of opportunity which created the Cease Fire Agreement which luckily still holds.  And then it also allows us  to answer the question, are the framework conditions still there to sustain this cease fire agreement? And that leads to the Second issue area:  

An in-depth analysis of the Cease Fire Agreement and its implementation, which as you all know is now also crucial in the process from Geneva one to Geneva two. Is the balance of power which made the Cease Fire Agreement of 2001 possible still valid? If it�s not valid, is it necessary to have a new cease fire agreement as some people argue or are there other equivalent factors which will sustain the existing Cease Fire Agreement and take this forward as a basis for a revitalisation of the peace process.  

Third issue area: politics of aid. Now as you all know one of the basic assumptions of the peace process from 2002 to 2003 was that normalisation for the people affected from the war is one of the key ridge boarders between the cease fire and addressing the co-political issues. Unfortunately this hope, this idea of normalisation as a bridge builder didn�t work as it was envisioned, why was that so? And what are the confusions out of that for the future peace process?  

Fourth issue area: Session number four will look at the internal dynamics of peace process, the guiding notion behind that, is that one cannot fully understand what happened in the last four years without looking at what happened within the South, within the Sinhala polity, within the Tamil polity as well as within the Muslim polity. And we think it is important to analyse that properly classical theory, classical explanation for the difficulties in this respect was the ethno-political outbidding within the Southern Polity, but also within the other polities.  

We had such dynamisms and we think it is important to see and how far this could be addressed in a way that when the issue area number five the process of the peace process as such between and among the main parties can be inspired. And here we will have a few contributions which will look on the one hand at the asymmetric character of this process and on the other hand at the particular dynamisms of the interaction between the parties.  

The sixth session will look at what kind of impact these strategies of the parties in the peace process had on the people effected the often voted discussion about the peace dividend and the discussion on how are the different tracks, from track one to track three are linked with each other, why was there no positive reproducing and forward leading dynamism between these tracks.  

And last but not least, it is obvious that without looking at the international framework conditions it is difficult to understand how the complexities of the Sri Lankan Peace Process in the last four years have evolved. And that relates on the one hand to the hypothesis of the so called �over internationalisation� others might say �under utilisation of the over internationalisation� of this peace process, the role of Norway, the role of the co-chairs, the regional factors as well as more recently the issue of sanctions and incentives.  

This hopefully will all lead to some conclusions and ideas to be taken into account in the final, eighth session which will have two rounds, where we would also like to integrate some of the ideas you have put forward in your one � two page for re-envisioning the Peace Process.



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