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From SIHRN to post-war north and east: The limits of the ‘peace through development’ paradigm in Sri Lanka

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... The negotiations were largely confined to the content and implementation of the ceasefire agreement and to humanitarian needs, while state reforms to secure minority rights, devolution of power and substantive political representation gained less attention (Stokke and Uyangoda, 2011). This strategy of using development as a precursor to peace made aid administration a main point of contention between the GOSL, LTTE and the Sinhalese opposition as it came to be linked to contentious questions of power-sharing and state sovereignty (Rainford and Satkunanathan, 2011;Shanmugaratnam and Stokke, 2008). Disagreements between the protagonists over interim administrative arrangements brought the negotiations to a stalemate and provided political space for the opposition to mobilize against the peace process, the government and the role of the international actors. ...
... The Sri Lankan peace process is an illustrative example of internationalized liberal peace-building and Norway's approach to peace that emerged during the first decade after the end of the Cold War. Apart from falling short of expectations, the Sri Lankan process also shows the limitations in attempts to negotiate a peace deal without addressing core political issues and in using development as a substitute for substantive political transformations (Bastian, 2007;Rainford and Satkunanathan, 2011;Shanmugaratnam and Stokke, 2008). The last phase of the conflict in Sri Lanka, when the GOSL and the LTTE returned to military means for ending the conflict, further demonstrated the limitations of Norway's approach to liberal peace-building. ...
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This article examines the emergence and transformation of Norway’s peace engagement in the context of changing international relations. Focusing on foreign policy discourses and practices, the article portrays peace engagement as value-based efforts to support resolution of distant intrastate conflicts, and a strategy to promote Norway’s interests and influence in international relations. The article also argues that changing international relations after the turn of the century has challenged and reoriented Norway’s peace engagement in a more realist direction. Foreign policy discourses and practices are increasingly based on a broad notion of interests that also includes ideals of peace, democracy and development. This means that peace engagement can support a domestic political consensus on foreign policy, and simultaneously promote Norway’s standing, relevance and influence in international relations. Peace engagement has thus been institutionalized as a foreign policy that promotes peace while also addressing the challenges associated with smallness in international relations.
... After President Rajapaksa was re-elected in April 2010 backed by public (Sinhala majority) support and political capital, he was exhilarated by the war victory, his main strategy was to accelerate large-scale reconstruction through infrastructure projects as a vehicle to arguably promote peace and reconciliation in the war-torn country (ICG, 2011;Rainford & Satkunanathan, 2011). ...
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This chapter explores narratives and counter-narratives of post-war development and reconstruction in Sri Lanka and how they impact on reconciliation. Post-war development and reconstruction in Sri Lanka—between 2010 and 2015—has operated within a highly securitised and militarised environment that was embedded in the narratives of the much-celebrated victor’s peace and much-hyped priority for national security. This chapter contends that the post-war reconstruction that took place between 2010 and 2015 neglected the structural causes of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) armed conflict and instead framed the war as an outcome of development failure. This popular narrative constructed by the majority Sinhala government in the South undermines the voices of war survivors in the North and East and places much needed reconciliation on a developmental path that has so far been limited to make trickle-down effects. We argue that although development is necessary to achieve reconciliation, post-war development and reconstruction failed to deliver peace dividends but also isolated the war survivors in the North and East. This separation led to the lack of civic trust in the state institutions and their mechanisms. Further to this, we contend that the demilitarisation of the North and East followed by the realignment of the focus of post-war development to include human security, justice, truth seeking and healing could create an environment for building trust that will foster community reconciliation as well as national reconciliation in post-war Sri Lanka.
... International aid to Sri Lanka, and the politics around it, is a relatively well-studied area(Goodhand and Klem 2005;Bastian 2007;Goodhand and Walton 2009;Orjuela 2011;Rainford and Satkunanathan 2011). ...
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Documentary film is a popular resource amongst peacebuilding organisations and practitioners. Despite this popularity, research on documentary film is still emerging in peace and conflict studies. This article explores documentary film’s role in the study and practice of peacebuilding by examining the documentary Demons in Paradise and its engagement with issues of peace and conflict in post-war Sri Lanka. This article makes conceptual, methodological, and empirical contributions. Drawing from empirical research, I identify and discuss documentary film’s engagement along three analytical angles: documentary film as a text, within social processes, and within research processes. Under each angle, I explore how empirical observations and understanding of peace emerge through the visual, using diverse methods and data, including interviews, participant observation, visual elicitation in post-screening focus groups, and film analysis. I conclude that documentary film can contribute to the study and practice of peacebuilding by offering multiple analytical angles that elucidate plural, disparate understandings of peace in post-war societies.
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We have argued that Norway’s distinctive approach to peacemaking and peacebuilding rests on five basic factors: a domestic consensus that permits long-term sustained commitments to peace building and peacemaking efforts, multilateralism, a reputation for impartiality and discretion, “ground truth”/local knowledge provided by local nongovernmental organization (NGO) partners, and parallel peace processes (see chapter 3). Of major initiatives undertaken by Norway over the last 20 years, Sri Lanka stands as an outlier with respect to several factors that comprise what has become known as the Norwegian “policy of engagement.”1 The mission did fit well with the idea of Norway as the “humanitarian great power.”2 Unlike earlier engagements where Norway worked behind the scenes, leaving the public diplomacy to other engaged countries and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), Norway publicly took the lead as principal sponsor of the negotiation process. This placed Norway and the process directly in the spotlight. Rather than secrecy, activities were subjected to constant media coverage. Active facilitation became the principal mode rather than serving as a backdrop—that is, as a more private exercise in support of a broader public process.
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This evaluation assesses Norway’s peace efforts in Sri Lanka from 1997 to 2009. It tells the story of Norway’s engagement, assesses the effects and identifies broader implications and lessons. The analysis is based on interviews with key informants, an in-depth perusal of ministry archives in Oslo, several subsidiary studies, and a review of relevant research, secondary literature and the Sri Lankan press. Since the end of the Cold War, Norway has shown remarkable foreign policy activism in the pursuit of peace and Sri Lanka is a prominent example of this. Norwegian efforts to bring about a negotiated settlement between successive Sri Lankan governments and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) spanned a twelve-year period. Apart from its role as peace facilitator, Norway was involved as a ceasefire monitor and an aid donor during this period. The Sri Lankan peace process is largely a story of failure in terms of bringing an end to the civil war. Norway, however, cannot be held solely or primarily responsible for this ultimate failure and its involvement contributed to several intermediate achievements, including the Ceasefire Agreement, the Oslo meeting in which both sides expressed a commitment to explore a federal solution, and the signing of a joint mechanism for post-tsunami aid. The ceasefire in particular had positive impacts on the ground situation, but in the end these accomplishments proved to be ephemeral. The peace process reproduced, rather than transformed underlying structural obstacles to conflict resolution. It failed to induce fundamental changes in the disposition of the state and anti-state formations in Sri Lanka, and to some extent it caused a further entrenchment of positions. The hurting stalemate which led to the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA), initial peace talks and a period of ‘no war-no peace’, was followed by an escalating shadow war and finally open hostilities ending in the defeat of the LTTE in May 2009.
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