srilanka mines


There have been a series of peace attempts to solve the civil war by political arrangements until the Rajapaksa regime decided to declare war against LTTE in 2006. The first peace rounds marked by Bandaranaike and Chelvanayagam in 1957. The Senanayake- Chelvanayagam peace talks in 1965 followed by Round Table conference 1983, All-Party conference 1984, Thimpu Bhutan talks 1985, Political Parties conference 1986, Indo Sri Lanka Accords 1987, All-Party Conference 1989, Dialogue with the LTTE 1990, Select Committee of Parliament 1992, Jaffa Peace talks 1995, Ceasefire agreement and peace talks in 2001.[1] The entire peace process in Sri Lanka failed to find a political solution to the ethnic conflict. Particularly Indo- Sri Lanka Peace Accords and 2002 Peace process were able to gain international attention and failure of the peace process changed the political map of Sri Lanka in a larger context. The failure of 1987 and 2001 peace activities problematize the international involvement in the peace process in Sri Lanka. With these contextual annotations, the author is looking at the catastrophe of the peace process of Sri Lanka based on two case studies: 1987 Indo- Sri Lanka Peace Accords and 2002 Peace rounds. The final portion of the paper describes the linkages between human security approach and peace agreements in Sri Lanka.

Review of Literature
Background note of 1987 Indo- Sri Lanka Peace Accords

Since 1947, Sinhala majority statecraft in Sri Lanka driven by the Sinhala Buddhist majoritarian political ideology. This political connotation influenced to the two major parties in Ceylon[2]: United National Party (UNP) and Sri Lankan Freedom Party (SLFP) to implement national policies in Sri Lanka against the rights and liberties of the Tamil community. In 1956 SLFP government approved the Sinhala Only Act and in 1972 constitution given a foremost position to Buddhism.[3] These activities rolled back the communal positions of the Tamil groups in Sri Lanka in different clusters of society including education, employment and national political hierarchies.  According to Ralph Premdas and Samarasinghe, since the 1980s the state dominated by Sinhalese politicians and they [un]willing make significant concessions to minority Tamils, it created a brutal but effective, efficient military movement which seeks the self-determination of Sri Lankan Tamils.[4]

According to the Crisis Management Group, ethnic tension took its peak in 1983; sporadic clashes broke down between Tamil community and government military forces in Sri Lanka.[5] Amita Shastri stressed that longtime discrimination against Tamil community provided a social and political background to the emergence of Tamil military groups mainly, LTTE, EROS, TULF, TELO, PLOTE and EPRLF. In 1983, the hushed Tamil military groups launched their first attack in Jaffa and 13 government police officers murdered by the Tamil military groups.[6] As a response to this incident, the Sinhala community started to slaughter Tamils in Colombo and southern areas with the funding of Sinhala Buddhist ethnocentric political parties. Around 1000 Tamils died due to this ethnic clashes.[7] According to Pfaffenberger, this incident noticeable the manifestation of the civil war in a larger context. The stalemate of the war cleared in 1987 with the Indian intervention and Indo Sri Lanka Peace Agreement.[8]

“The GOSL signed the Indo- Sri Lanka Accord with the Indian government on 29th July 1987 when it had limited options after being denied support from the western powers.”[9] Article 1.1 of the Peace agreement states that “intent of the agreement is to preserve and unify the multi-ethnic, multilingual and multi-religious society of Sri Lanka, especially concerning Tamils in the Eastern Province.”[10] However, Tamil militant groups including LTTE, EPRLF, TULF, TELO, PLOTE, ENPLF did not take part in the peace agreement. Indian Prime Minister “presumed to append his signature on behalf of the island’s Tamil population.”[11] According Shelton Kodikara elimination of Tamil militant groups from the peace agreement was one major reason for the failure of 1987 peace accords.[12] Similarly, Peace accords did not have a proper mechanism to address their political outcomes at a larger level. The article number 2.10 and 2.11 mentioned that the law enforcement in the Northern and Eastern provinces does not differ from the law enforcement proceeders of other areas and government-granted amnesty to violators of the Prevention of Terrorist Act.[13] However, the Sri Lankan government did not release the political prisoners mainly, the political solutions provided by the agreement did not address the political demands of the Tamil populations in the Northern part of the country. For an instant, The accord admitted to “recognizing that the Northern and Eastern provinces have been areas of historical habitation of Sri Lankan Tamil speaking peoples, but qualified this claim by conceding similar residential rights to other people.”[14] These political solutions diminished the trust towards peace agreement while Tamil military groups underway to strive a robust military solution to accomplish their demands. The ambiguity of the political parties and hardline politics negatively affected by the success of peace agreement in 1987 and this particular issue is visible in the 2002 peace agreement as well. Amita Shastri stressed that both of the peace agreement were failed to secure human security and the role of international mediators provided a considerable reason to fail the peace process in Sri Lanka.[15] These two problems discuss under the 2002 peace agreement since it was a common feature of the Sri Lankan peace process all the time.

Background note of the Peace Process in Sri Lanka (2002-2006)

“The ceasefire agreement has lasted has lasted for nearly two years, much longer than any previous agreements, and it was created uniques opportunity for long-lasting peace.”[16] The Peace Process in Sri Lanka initiated in 2002 with the unilateral ceasefire which declared by LTTE. Both the parties agreed to accept the involvement of international mediator because “all the parties may be stuck in what has been denoted a mutually hurting stalemate and seek ways to escape this costly deadlock.”[17] The role of the Norwegian mediation had been questioned by the international community after the failure of the peace process in Sri Lanka. The particularly Norwegian government had its own political agenda during the peace process. Norway’s self-perception and intention to build up the international image and their political-economic gain.[18] Particularly, “critics of the Norwegian mediation efforts, mainly based in a Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist ideology, have argued that the main motivations behind its involvement should be sought in Norwegian economic interests in Sri Lanka.”[19] According to Peace Crisis groups, the role of the Norwegian government did not identify the local requirements properly, sometimes they played a mediator role and sometimes as a facilitator. This problematized the outcomes of the peace process and complicated the roleplay of the international community.[20]

Six peace rounds took place during the 2002-2006 time and Paramanathan highlighted the structural and power asymmetry of the negotiation parties. Predominately, non-state actor LTTE subjected power disadvantages throughout the peace process.[21] The power asymmetry tags a negative recognition about Norwegian mediation. According to this perspective “Norway is too lax on terrorism and holds a generally sympathetic attitude towards non-state actors using armed means to pursue political means.”[22]

Muslims have a bitter joke about their role in the conflict; “it’s like a football match. One side the LTTE, the other is the government. We Muslims are football.”[23] 2002 peace talks conducted between Sinhalese and Tamil communities, However According International Crisis group LTTE and SL government bought massive destruction towards the Muslim community. Mainly LTTE bought massive compensations to Muslim community including “the massacre in Kattankudy in 1990, forceful displacements, expelled them from the Northern area and ethnic cleansing. There have been regular clashes in the east between Tamils and Muslims, particularly over LTTE attempts since the 2002 ceasefire to establish control over Muslim communities in the east and tax their business activities.”[24] During the Peace agreement in 1987 Indian government and Sri, Lankan administration neglected the political rights of the Muslim community. They were neglected from the main peace development process though they subjected to political violence of LTTE as well as government military.[25] The elimination of the ethnic minorities and different stakeholders from the peace process directly facilitated to collapse of the peace process in 2002 as well as 1987.

Divisions in the Sinhala Majoritan community and the political games with the Sinhala Buddhist ethnocentric political parties was a reason behind the failure of the Sri Lankan Peace process. According to Shelton Kodikara, during Indo-Sri Lanka peace agreement; JVP recognized India as an expansionist power. The role of the JVP negatively affected the peace process and particularly, JVP along with minor Tamil parties started to pressure UNP government and influence to withdraw from the peace agreement. Because of these, actions government failed to secure majority support of the Sinhala community in favour of a peace agreement.[26]

“The LTTE has attempted to overcome the divisions in the Tamil community through repression. Among Sinhalese politicians, on the other hand, the decisions are formalised and accentuated by a highly pluralistic society.”[27] Paramanathan stressed the political power game which took place between President Chandrika Bandaranaike and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe during the Peace process. Mainly, Ranil Wickramasinghe government did not appreciate the president’s involvement in the peace process and himself as a PM signed the Peace agreement with the LTTE. Chandrika and her party openly criticised the political behaviour of Ranil Wickramasinghe’s government.[28]

“In November 2003, president Chandrika Kumaratunga, incensed by the perceived audacity of the LTTE proposal and also in response to her perceived exclusion from the peace process by the Prime Minister, declared a state of emergency, deployed troops in the capital, fired three ministers holding key positions and suspended parliament. From that point on, the peace process between the government and LTTE never recovered.”[29] Many political parties in the south including JVP, JHU, MC, CLP excluded from the peace process and it influenced to create divided public opinion regarding the peace process.

The peace process failed to address human security requirements. Particularly Indo- Sri Lanka peace agreement stressed that IPKF promotes and secure individual rights and liberty.[30] According to Shinoda IPKF committed to many human right violations including crimes, mass killings in northern areas. These notorious military actions facilitated to organize the Tamil community against the IPKF and they lost the faith.[31]

“Human rights remain one of the key issues that have been the focus of criticism of the CFA since it was signed. The focus of this criticism has ranged from the continued recruitment of children, extortion and political assassinations, on the other hand, the rights of return IDPs and refugees and the HSZ on the other. Movement in the peace process that does not take any human rights question into account will risk the continued loss of public support and legitimacy for the peace process.”[32]

These literature reflect the main issues which facilitated to the failure of the peace process in Sri Lanka in 1987 and 2002. These problems are inherent features on the Sri Lankan peace process since the 1950s to 2006; because of that any of the peace initiatives was failed to meet their expected outcomes.

Field Work Report

I shall now try elaborating the insights that I have gained from the conversations that I have had with various scholars who have worked in the field. However, I must mention here that they are all Indian scholars who have worked on Sri Lankan Peace process. Two respondents are Masters students of South Asian University which belong to Sri Lankan Tamil community. One student is a Masters Student of the same university which belongs to Tamilnadu Tamil community. These communities directly involved in the Sri Lankan peace process and civil war.[33]

Dr Maneesha Wanasinghe-Pasqual identified the government of Sri Lanka, LTTE and Tamil community as a major stakeholder of the 1987 Indo- Sri Lanka peace agreement even though LTTE did not sign the peace agreement.[34] However, Shelton Kodikara identified this limited number of stakeholders provided a narrow political space to the Tamil militant groups and followers of those groups. This was a negative aspect of the peace process and it influenced the failure of the process.[35] However, Kethika Subramaniyam holds a different opinion regarding this representation issue. According to her, Tamil military groups including TELO, TULF, EROSE, EPRLF, PLOTE did not carry a larger number of communal support. Majoritarian support won by the LTTE. The entire Tamil community in northern areas accepted LTTE as their sole representation and their leading power.[36] Udayani Nawarathnam holds the same position regarding this issue and mainly she highlighted that “the Tamil political parties failed to address the communal rights and requirements of the Tamil community, but LTTE won the hearts of the Tamil people because they fight to secure the dignity of the Tamil community.[37] The intellectual community identified the limited representation as a weak point of the peace agreement in 1987 and even in 2002. Especially, Neli De Votta stressed that in 2002 peace process did not recognize the voice of EPRLF: the biggest criticizer of the LTTE.[38] However, the field works emphasized that the Tamil community has not accepted any other Tamil military or political group as their representation in the peace process. In that sense, the role of the LTTE and exclusion of other Tamil military groups from the peace process can’t be identified as a failure. However, under the liberal democratic system, the unilateral representation has damaged the fair representation of the stakeholders and it led to the failure of the peace process in 1987 and 2002.

The foremost problem of the 2002 peace process was the political intentions of the major parties of the peace process. Professor Sasanka Perera emphasized that non of the stakeholders in 2002 ceasefire agreement had a pure intention to bring peace to the country. Mainly, both of the parties entered into the peace agreement under the condition of mutual hurting stalemate. From the perspective of LTTE, they wanted to rebuild their military and manpower while regaining international recognition. Similarly, the government of Sri Lanka wanted to raise their financial capabilities after the LTTE attack to Katunayake International airport.[39] The LTTE attack on the airport directly destroyed the financial stability of the country and indirectly it negatively influenced to the tourism industry.

Bhim Raj, a social activist and LLM student of South Asian University pointed out that the main reason for the ceasefire agreement was to gain political power to the government of Sri Lanka. Particularly, the government got a strategic advantage through the peace process and most of the donor nations provided aid to Sri Lanka along with development grants. During the time of the peace process, LTTE was able to speed up their military recruitments. In 2003, immediately after the LTTE decision to avoid peace talks, Prabhakaran stressed that they are ready for the final battle.[40]

Both the parties entered into the ceasefire agreement due to mutual hurting statement and intending to gain the political advantages compared to the opposite party. The power asymmetry and the intention of private gain was a major reason which affected the failure of the peace process.

Professor Sasanka pointed out an impressive factor which influenced the crackdown of the peace process. According to him, LTTE could not have a proper intellectual capacity to maintain the peace process. Especially, the death of Anton Balasingham was a turning point of the peace process. He was the main person who represented the LTTE in international peace talks. However, his death was negatively affected by the strategic position of the LTTE and they started to deviate from the peace process.[41]

According to Dr Maneesha Wanasinghe- Pasqual the domestic politics and hardline politics played a notable role during the peace process from 1987 to 2006. In 2003, LTTE decided to boycott the peace talks and after that, they demand the interim administration power. This idea introduced by the UNP government in 2001 through their election manifesto. However, the UNP government failed to recognize the LTTE political demands due to the political pressure of the South.[42] Hideaki Shinoda provided a solid explanation regarding this issue. “LTTE withdrew from negotiations in April 2003, citing their exclusion from a meeting with international donors and lack of government cooperation. LTTE presented a proposal for an Interim Self-Government Authority in October 2003 as a basis for new negotiations. But President Kumaratunga largely excluded from the peace process, acting on Sinhala anti-negotiation sentiment and anger at LTTE’s ceasefire violations, took over the defence and other crucial ministries to effectively stall the peace process, which never benefited politically.”[43] Somehow President Kumaratunga decided dissolved the parliament in 2004 and called a fresh election. The victory of Mahinda Rajapaksa led SLFP coalition government started to deviate from the peace process and started to use military power to eradicate LTTE.

Udayani Nawaratanam stressed the lack of consideration over the human security in 1987 and 2002 peace process. Due to this issue peace process failed to secure the livelihood of the conflict area and peace process subjected to international criticisms. Mainly, she pointed several incidents including the massacre at Jaffa Teaching Hospital, the joint operation of SL military and IPKF in Jaffna Kokuvil Perimpady junction and around 500 rape cases did by IPKF and joint military forces.[44] These actions directly violate the provisions of Indo- Sri Lanka peace agreement. Primarily, Agreement stressed the rights of the Tamil community, individual freedom and safety. However, IPKF itself violated the human security of the Tamil community.

Ketchikan Subramaniyam stressed the lack of law enforcement mechanism on the protection of human security in the 2002 ceasefire agreement.[45] Mainly, the international community attempted to provide a proper framework to protect individual rights during the peace agreement with special concerns of children rights. Even the government denied enforcing human security protection mechanism under the peace process. The paramilitary groups started to kill LTTE friendly politicians under the command of the SL government. Though the government establish an especial commission to protect human rights, the activities of that institution were corrupted and bias to the government political agenda. However, both the parties did not acknowledge the legal recognition of human security and even the international community failed to bring justice for individuals. This was a major failure of the peace process in Sri Lanka.


The peace process of Sri Lanka had been carrying several failures since its beginning. All the stakeholders attempted to promote their political will and political gain compared to others. Even the international community involved in the peace process to promote their political gain while using the conflict of Sri Lanka as a social laboratory to test their theories without reading the grassroots problems. The catastrophes of the peace agreement had led the country to the nastiest end. Mahinda Rajapaksa government end the civil war by using brutality and military power against the citizens of the same country. However, until unless we are addressing the identity issues the problem will remain under the coal. Out identity always try to put other persons identity down. Our identity based on how we feel about ourselves compared to others. Until it changed the ethnic tension will remain.

Harsha Senanayake is a researcher at Social Scientists’ Association- Sri Lanka and a guest lecturer at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. He has acquired a masters degree in International Relations from the Department of International Relations, South Asian University, New Delhi, India and a specialised degree in International Relations from the Department of International Relations, University of Colombo. Harsha serves as an AIPE fellow- TFAS USA. He has authored few books including The Changing Patterns of USA- Japan Security Relations: Case Study of Okinawa and The Human Security Discourse and Seeking Peace: Field Work Analysis Based on the Sri Lankan Civil War (this book is on 20th position at recommended 24 best new international relations books to read in 2019 by book authority, CNN and Forbes). Harsha has worked at High Commission of Sri Lanka at New Delhi, Indian High Commission in Colombo, Embassy of the United States of America in Colombo, Center for Peace Building and Reconciliation – CPBR in Colombo Sri Lanka. He contributed to various researchers as a researcher. The main research interests are on Security Studies, Foreign Policy and Comparative Politics.


Cambridge University. 1987. “India- Sri Lanka: Agreement to Establish Peace and Normalcy in Sri Lanka.” International Legal Materials 26 (5): 1175-1185.

Cochrane, Feargal, Bahar Baser, and Ashok Swain. 2009. “Home Thoughts from Abroad: Diasporas and Peace- Building in Northern Ireland and Sri Lanka.” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 32 (8): 681-704.

Ferdinand, Tyrol, Kumar Rupasinghe, Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Jayadewa Uyangoda, and Norbert Ropers. 2004. The Sri Lankan Peace Process: Lessons, Opportunities and Ideas for Principled Negotiations and Conflict Transformation. Colombo: Center for Policy Alternatives.

Hoglund, Kristine, and Isak Svensson. 2009. “Mediating Between Tigers and Lions: Norwegian Peace Diplomacy in Sri Lanka’s Civil war.” Contemporary South Asia 17 (2): 175-191.

International Crisis Group. 2006. Sri Lanka: The Failure of the Peace Process. Brussels: International Crisis Group.

Kodikara, Shelton U. 1989. “The Continuing Crisis in Sri Lanka.” Asian Survey 29 (7): 716-724.

Lunn, Jon: Taylor, Claire, and Ian Townsend. 2009. War and Peace in Sri Lanka. Research paper 09/51, London: House of Commons.

Nawaratnam, Udayani, interview by Harsha Senanayake. 2018. Sri Lanka: Pre- and Post-Conflict (April 27).

Orjuela, Camila. 2008. “Reaping the Harvest of Peace.” Critical Asian Studies 40 (2): 211-232.

Paramanathan, Mathivathana. 2007. Peace Negotiations of Sri Lankan Conflict in 2000-2006 The Ceasefire Agreement Facilitated by Norway is at Stake. MA Thesis, Jonkoping: Jonkoping International Bussiness School.

Pasqual, Wanasinghe M, interview by Harsha Senanayake. 2018. Sri Lanka: Pre- and Post-Conflict (April 25).

Perera, Sasanka, interview by Harsha Senanayake. 2018. Sri Lanka: Pre- and Post-Conflict (April 27).

Pfaffenberger, Bryan. 1988. “Sri Lanka In 1987: Indian Intervention and Resurgence of the JVP.” Asian Survey 28 (2): 137-147.

Premdas, Ralph R, and S. W. R Samarasinghe. 1988. “Sri Lanka’s Ethnic Conflict: The Indo- Lanka Peace Accord.” Asian Survey 28 (6): 676-690.

Price, Natasha. 2010. “Integrating Return with Recovery: Utilising the Return Process in the Transition to Positive Peace: A Case Study of Sri Lanka.” Round Table 99 (410): 529-545.

Raj, Bhim, interview by Harsha Senanayake. 2018. Sri Lanka: Pre- and Post-Conflict (April 24).

Samset, Ingrid. 2004. Trapped in the Peace Process: Ceasefire Monitoring in Sri Lanka. Occasional Paper, Helsinki: Nordic Research Programme.

Senanayake, Darini R. 2009. “Transnational Peace Building and Conflict: Lessons from Aceh, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.” Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia 24 (2): 211-235.

Shastri, Amita. 2009. “Ending Ethnic Civil War: The Peace Process in Sri Lanka.” Commonwealth and Comparative Politics 47 (1): 76-99.

Shinoda, Hideaki. 2000. Politics of Peace Processes in Sri Lanka: Reconsidered from Domestic, International and Regional Perspectives. MA Thesis, Hiroshima: Institute for Peace Science- Hiroshima University.

Subramaniyam, Kethika, interview by Harsha Senanayake. 2018. Sri Lanka: Pre- and Post-Conflict (April 26).

Votta, Neli De. 2004. “Sri Lanka in 2003: Seeking to Consolidate Peace.” Asian Survey 44 (1): 49-55.

Wickramasinghe, Nira. 2009. “Sri Lanka in 2008: Waging War for Peace.” Asian Servey 49 (1): 59-65.


[1] Paramanathan 2007

[2] Sri Lanka idenfited as a Ceylon upto 1972 because it was dominion state under the British empire

[3] Internationl Crisis Group 2006

[4] Premdas and Samarasinghe 1988

[5] Internationl Crisis Group 2006

[6] Shastri 2009

[7] Kodikara 1989

[8] Pfaffenberger 1988

[9] Paramanathan 2007, 6

[10] Cambridge University 1987

[11] Shinoda 2000

[12] Kodikara 1989

[13] Cambridge University 1987

[14] Premdas and Samarasinghe 1988

[15] Shastri 2009

[16] Ferdinands, et al. 2004, i

[17] Hoglund and Svensson 2009, 178

[18] Paramanathan 2007

[19] Hoglund and Svensson 2009

[20] Internationl Crisis Group 2006

[21] Paramanathan 2007

[22] Hoglund and Svensson 2009, 182

[23] Internationl Crisis Group 2006, 10

[24] ibid, 10-11

[25] Wicramasinghe 2009

[26] Kodikara 1989

[27] Internationl Crisis Group 2006, 14

[28] Paramanathan 2007

[29] Lunn and Townsend 2009, 12

[30] Cambridge University 1987

[31] Shinoda 2000

[32] Ferdinands, et al. 2004, 24

[33] As part of the Assignment requirements I conducted seven interviews, four of them scholars who have written and worked extensively on the topic. My fifth respond is a Tamilnadu student.The four interviews with scholars was conducted on the April after seeking prior appointments with them. Other interview was conducted on the same month. In this section, I shall elaborate the insights I have got. The sevent respondents are:

  1. Professor Sasanka Perera, Vice President, South Asian University, New Delhi, India.
  2. Dr. Maneesha Wanasinghe- Pasqual, Department of International Relations, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.
  3. Thyagaraja Waradas, Senior Lecturer, Department of International Relations, Univerity of Colombo, Sri Lanka.
  4. Punsara Amarasinghe, Visiting Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.
  5. Udayani Nawaratnam, MA candidate, South Asian University, New Delhi, India
  6. Kethika Subramaniyam, MA Candiate, South Asian University, New Delhi, India
  7. Bhim Raj, LLM Candidate, South Asian University, New Delhi, India


Consent was obtained through e-mail and verbally and permission was also sought to record in the case of respondents 2,3 and 4. The conversation with Respondent 1, however was not recorded. That said, his consent (verbal) was taken for the information presented in the paper and also a draft was shown to him before the submission.

[34] Pasqual 2018

[35] Kodikara 1989

[36] Subramaniyam 2018

[37] Nawarathnam 2018

[38] Votta 2004

[39] Perera 2018

[40] Raj 2018

[41] Perera 2018

[42] Pasqual 2018

[43] Shinoda 2000, 7

[44] Nawaratnam 2018

[45] (Subramaniyam 2018)



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