Youth and Peacebuilding


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Youth and Peacebuilding - Presentation for Democratic Youth Leadership Programmes in Sri Lanka - May 2006

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Youth and Peacebuilding

  1. 1. Youth Activism
  2. 2. Country details <ul><li>Population – 19 million </li></ul><ul><li>Land area – 62, 705km 2 (QLD 1,722,000 km 2, or 27 times larger!) </li></ul><ul><li>Literacy – 91% </li></ul><ul><li>Life expectancy – 72 years </li></ul><ul><li>74% Sinhalese Buddhists, 12% Tamil Hindus, 5% Muslims and 7% Christians </li></ul>
  3. 3. Overview of conflict
  4. 4. Overview of conflict <ul><li>65,000 dead (+ around 31,000 from tsunami) </li></ul><ul><li>400,000 IDPs </li></ul><ul><li>Devastated the economy, livelihoods </li></ul><ul><li>Traumatised societies (Tamil, Muslim, Sinhala) </li></ul><ul><li>Religious violence (Buddhist / Evangelical Christian / Muslim extremism) </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>February 2002 – Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) </li></ul><ul><li>Six Rounds of Peace Talks (2002 – 2003) / Reconciliation never on agenda </li></ul><ul><li>LTTE pulls out of talks in May 2003 </li></ul><ul><li>Constitutional imbroglio – change of government in April 2004 </li></ul>Overview of conflict
  6. 6. The Actors State Non- State Mediator Sinhala aristocracy / President LTTE ideologue & leader Norway
  7. 7. The roots <ul><li>In the first half of the 20th century, Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) was considered something of a model of political tranquility and social development. </li></ul><ul><li>At independence in 1948, power was transferred in very orderly fashion to a conservative, Anglicised native elite. </li></ul>
  8. 8. The roots <ul><li>1956 - The Official Language Act makes Sinhala the sole medium of state affairs. Communal violence kills an estimated 150 people, mostly Tamils. </li></ul><ul><li>1961 - The 1956 'Sinhala Only' Act is implemented. Disillusioned activists express secessionist aspirations. </li></ul><ul><li>1971 - Educational 'standardisation' leads to higher university entrance requirements for Tamil speakers. Many Tamil students are instantly radicalised. </li></ul>
  9. 9. The roots <ul><li>1972 - The 'district quota' system is introduced for university entrance. </li></ul><ul><li>1975 - The Tamil mayor of Jaffna. Four youths, including Veluppillai Pirabhakaran, claim responsibility for this, the first successful assassination by the militants. </li></ul><ul><li>1978 - Buddhism enshrined as State religion in Art. 2 of the constitution </li></ul><ul><li>1983 - Pogrom </li></ul>
  10. 10. LTTE <ul><li>The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is an armed group capable of sustainable guerrilla actions, terrorist attacks, and also fighting large conventional battles. It has a tight organizational structure (military and political) under the control of one person, and it is completely disciplined. </li></ul><ul><li>It has systematically eliminated other Tamil militant groups, controls territory in the north and east of Sri Lanka, and runs a parallel government (with a police force, judicial system, and other structures). </li></ul><ul><li>It has extensive international linkages and has created a worldwide business empire. For example, the LTTE has extensive shipping interests that are used for the delivery of weapons to the LTTE in Sri Lanka. </li></ul>
  11. 11. LTTE <ul><li>It has broad support from Tamil people living in Sri Lanka, and from the Tamil Diaspora. </li></ul><ul><li>It has an effective publicity and propaganda program, which can rapidly mobilize political, economic, and financial support of the Tamil diaspora. </li></ul><ul><li>It is no longer proscribed as a terrorist organization in Sri Lanka, but is by the US and a few other countries, barring Canada. </li></ul>
  12. 16. Pogrom - 1983 <ul><li>The riots, which began in Colombo, spread to other areas where Sri Lankan and Indian Tamils were concentrated. </li></ul><ul><li>Within Colombo alone, nearly 100,000 Tamils were displaced. The Government admitted to a death toll of 250, but reliable non-governmental sources estimated it at 2,000. </li></ul><ul><li>There was hardly any Tamil family in Colombo that escaped death, destruction or displacement. </li></ul><ul><li>The communal holocaust was an awful turning point in Sri Lanka's recent history. </li></ul>
  13. 17. Pogrom - 1983
  14. 18. Pogrom - 1983 <ul><li>Voters lists </li></ul><ul><li>Welikanda prison massacre </li></ul><ul><li>State complicity / catastrophic failure of political leadership </li></ul>
  15. 24. War and Insurgency <ul><li>Massive trauma, loss of life </li></ul><ul><li>Wider ethnic divide </li></ul><ul><li>No trust, polarised communities </li></ul><ul><li>Very little people to people contact </li></ul><ul><li>Media stereotypes </li></ul><ul><li>Zero sum politics, garrison nationalism </li></ul><ul><li>Familiar litany of issues… </li></ul>
  16. 25. Conflict
  17. 26. What is a conflict? <ul><li>Conflict is a state of opposition, disagreement or incompatability between two or more people or groups of people, which is sometimes characterised by physical violence. </li></ul><ul><li>Conflict, by itself, can be either good or bad. </li></ul><ul><li>Conflict that leads to violence, obviously, is bad. </li></ul>
  18. 27. Causes of conflict <ul><li>proximate or immediate causes of conflict those events which may trigger violence </li></ul><ul><li>underlying causes the more fundamental and long-term causes which create the conditions in which immediate triggers of conflict occur </li></ul>
  19. 28. Anatomy of a conflict
  20. 29. Modes of Conflict transformation <ul><li>Intervention </li></ul><ul><li>Conflict early warning / prevention </li></ul><ul><li>Addressal of root causes </li></ul><ul><li>Consultation and mediation </li></ul><ul><li>Negotiation </li></ul><ul><li>Reconciliation </li></ul><ul><li>Each of these can operate in the following levels: </li></ul><ul><li>Personal / Local / Provincial / National / Regional / International & Global </li></ul>
  21. 30. changes of perspective changes of heart changes of will gestures of conciliation 5. Personal / Elite transformations transcendence of contested issues constructive compromise changing issues de-linking or re-linking issues 4. Issue transformations changes of leadership changes of goals intra-party change change in party’s constituencies changing actors 3. Actor transformations change from asymmetric to symmetric conflict change in power structures changes of markets of violence 2. Structure transformations change in the international or regional environment 1. Context transformations Examples Type Transformers of Conflict
  22. 31. Rights based approach <ul><li>Political participation and democracy are the bedrock of peace </li></ul><ul><li>Gender needs to be mainstreamed </li></ul><ul><li>Political and civil rights and well as economic and social rights need to be safeguarded </li></ul>
  23. 32. Youth in armed conflict &quot;Older men declare war.  But it is youth that must fight and die&quot; Herbert Hoover, 1944
  24. 33. Issues <ul><li>Youth soldiers / forced recruitment </li></ul><ul><li>Refugees and IDPs </li></ul><ul><li>Gender issues / rape </li></ul><ul><li>Maiming and loss of livelihoods and future from landmines and UXOs </li></ul><ul><li>AIDS / HIV risk in camps </li></ul><ul><li>Poverty / lack of education exacerbate cycles of violence </li></ul>
  25. 34. Youth Activism
  26. 36. Key Thoughts… <ul><li>Youth not as passive recipients of assistance </li></ul><ul><li>Spaces for self-determination, self-organisation and self-realisation </li></ul>
  27. 37. Youth activism is useless… <ul><li>If you can’t communicate your message </li></ul><ul><li>Scaleable (viral marketing) </li></ul><ul><li>Sustainable </li></ul><ul><li>Adaptive </li></ul>
  28. 38. Diverse audiences Opposed Apathetic Persuadable Supportive
  29. 39. Youth is your strength <ul><li>Make it visible </li></ul><ul><li>Build alliances / Don’t reinvent the wheel </li></ul><ul><li>Use technology as your ally ! </li></ul>
  30. 40. ideas <ul><li>Communication training </li></ul><ul><li>Sharing computers </li></ul><ul><li>Using new media – blog ! </li></ul><ul><li>Leadership and vocational skills development camps </li></ul><ul><li>Youth community radio </li></ul>
  31. 41. Ideas of electronic activism
  32. 46.
  33. 47. Essentials for youth in peacebuilding
  34. 48. Ideas for youth initiatives <ul><li>Job training and employment programmes for youth </li></ul><ul><li>Constructive political participation </li></ul><ul><li>Inter-ethnic / cultural dialogue processes </li></ul><ul><li>Education </li></ul><ul><li>Re-integration programmes that teach vocational skills / IT literacy </li></ul>
  35. 49. Images of a different country
  36. 58. Thank you !