Date: 31 Jan 2006
This Strategic Conflict Assessment (SCA) follows and builds upon a previous assessment conducted for the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) in 2000 (Goodhand, 2001). Like the previous study, it aims to do three things: First, to provide an analysis of the structures and dynamics of conflict and peace in Sri Lanka since 2000. Second, to examine how international engagement has interacted with conflict and peace dynamics, with a particular focus on aid donors during this time period. Third, to identify how the strategies and approaches of international donors can best engage with and help strengthen domestic peacebuilding efforts. The primary end users of this report are expected to be aid donors, but it is hoped that it will be of interest to a wider audience inside and outside Sri Lanka. This volume is the first in a six-part series that includes five supplementary studies that are part of the SCA.
The period under study can broadly be divided into four phases: 1. Run up to the ceasefire: in a context of an enduring military stalemate and declining economic conditions, the United National Front (UNF) wins elections in December 2001. 2. Ceasefire and peace talks: a ceasefire agreement (CFA) is signed within a month and the UNF government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) embark on six rounds of peace talks. 3. The breakdown of talks and political instability: Talks become deadlocked; the LTTE suspends its participation and subsequently submits a proposal for an Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA). This sparks off a political crisis in the South, with the President taking over three key ministries, then proroguing parliament and declaring new elections for April A coalition of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) or People's Liberation Front wins the election. The combination political instability in the South and an LTTE split to the elections that leads to growing violence in East, means that the prospects for resuming peace appear to be remote. 4. The post-tsunami response: Negotiations between the government and LTTE a post-tsunami response mirror the political dynamics the peace process. It takes almost half a year to reach agreement on a Post-Tsunami Operational Management Structure (P-TOMS), thus boosting the hopes for despite the lack of legal clarity and the turmoil generated among both Sinhalese and Muslim constituencies.
3. CONFLICT STRUCTURES
In spite of the ceasefire agreement and peace negotiations, the structural dimensions of the conflict within Sri Lanka have remained relatively stable. has been no "seismic shift" in the "tectonic plates" underpinning conflict in Sri Lanka. The constellation factors that contributed to the outbreak and sustenance of violent conflict - including the nature of the state, political culture, the institutional framework of uneven development patterns and competing nationalisms - remains largely unaffected by the process. In many respects the "peace" that followed signing of the CFA has had the effect of freezing structural impediments to conflict resolution. On the other hand, there has been a significant in the external context at both the regional and international levels. The global "war on terror," growing international engagement in "post conflict" contexts, and Sri Lanka's integration into a dynamic and increasingly assertive wider Asian region have together created new (and sometimes competing) incentives for domestic actors. Though these changes in the external context may have helped create the preconditions for peace talks, they have not yet led to a radical reordering of political forces inside the country.
Sri Lanka Strategic Conflict Assessment 2005 A Six-Part Series
Vol. 1 - Aid, Conflict, and Peacebuilding in Sri Lanka, 2000-2005 (1.1MB)
Vol. 2 - Donors and Peacebuilding in Sri Lanka, 2000-2005 (440KB)
Vol. 3 - The Politics of the South (541KB)
Vol. 4 - The Politics of the North-East (444KB)
Vol. 5 - The Economic Agenda and the Peace Process (805KB)
Vol. 6 - Sri Lanka's Vernacular Press and the Peace Process (466KB)