In the fulfillment of its mandate, CPA’s programming focusses on the mutually reinforcing areas of democratic governance and peace.

The Centre’s activities in the area of peace building includes:

  • Policy oriented analyses of the current situation in Sri Lanka
  • Applied and academic research into conflict and its transformation
  • Proactive engagement at all levels (Tracks I, II and III) of conflict transformation and peace building processes
  • Dimensions of human security specifically looking at human rights and humanitarian issues
  • Implementing strategies for peace and governance reform using traditional and new media
  • Polling on public attitudes towards peace, conflict and governance
  • Conducting seminars and symposiums related to multi-level and multi-track peace processes, and current and comparative situations on conflict and peace.
  • Peace advocacy and outreach activities with media, local civic organizations and institutions.
  • Liaising with national and international organisations engaged in facilitating / mediating a negotiated settlement to the ethnic conflict.
  • Conducting research on peace related issues with a view to informing policy makers and the general public in order to increase public debate.

Past projects and programmes

Monitoring the Factors Affecting the Peace Process

The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) has been engaged in a project “Monitoring the Factors Affecting the Peace Process” to assess the current status of the peace process. This project involves 4 of CPA’s units and the Point Pedro Institute for Development, which looks at economics issues. Looking at developments within a quarterly period, this project produces reports for the corresponding periods.

A number of key factors, that impact the peace process, have been monitored to observe trends of change or stasis. The factors have been grouped into a series of clusters which reflect critical dimensions of the peace process. The trends will suggest the level of change in each cluster and in sum will indicate how the peace process and its environment have been strengthened or weakened. Trends observed in each of the various clusters and factors are carried in the Cluster Report while the Synthesis Report analyses change and statsis in the clusters in sum. These documents could be downloaded in PDF format.

Elections and Minorities: Present Problems and Alternatives for the Future
In April 2010 the CPA released a policy brief on elections and minorities in Sri Lanka. The brief focuses mainly on issues highlighted in the presidential and parliamentary elections of 2010 in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, especially with regard to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). The report proposes a list of recommendationsto overcome these problems. The publication was commissioned as a part of a project carried out by CPA and Minority Rights Group International (MRG) and is available in all three languages. The report can be downloaded here.

Power-Sharing in Sri Lanka, Constitutional and Political Documents 1926 – 2008
This major publication is a compendium of important proposals and political ideas that have featured in debates about power-sharing and the constitution of the Sri Lankan State since before independence to the present. The hard cover publication of 896 pages contains 51 such documents and extracts, clustered in 37 chapters. The commentaries by the editors,RohanEdrisinha, Mario Gomez, V.T. Thamilmaran and AsangaWelikala, place these documents and ideas in their historical, political and analytical context.The selection ranges from the early articles and speeches made by S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike in favour of federating with India, to the debates within the APRC convened by President MahindaRajapaksa. This book was published with the support of the Berghof Foundation for Conflict Studies.

Home away from Home: Children, displacement and protection in Sri Lanka, What Next?
This research project into internally displaced children in Sri Lanka was conceptualised by Save the Children and implemented by the CPA in 2009. The research team, headed by BhavaniFonseka and Marsha Cassiere-Daniel, focused on displaced children in the immediate aftermath of the government’s first phase of military operations in the East during the period 2007/2008. It explores the challenges faced by displaced children and analyses its psychological repercussions on them. The project included a Research Advisory Group which constituted of key stakeholders and decision-makers in IDP children and protection issues, including members of the National Child Protection Authority, the Ministry responsible for Children and Welfare, the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights, Dr. GameelaSamarasinghe of the Colombo University, and representatives of UNICEF and UNHCR. The full report is available online here.

Trincomalee High Security Zone and Special Economic Zone 2008
This policy brief, written by BhavaniFonseka and MirakRaheem, focuses on the situation in the Trincomalee High Security Zone. In May 2008, CPA undertook a visit to areas in Trincomalee, including newly resettled areas,to examine the question of the High Security Zones (HSZ) and other related land issues. The findings in this report are based on interviews with IDPs, people resettled, agencies working in the area and government actors. The full content of the brief can be found here.

HIV/AIDS in Sri Lanka: A Profile on Policy and Practice 2007
This policy brief discusses the status of HIV/AIDS in Sri Lanka, with a special focus on laws, policies, institutional structures and practical issues such as the prevalence of stigma, discrimination, lack of adequate resources and infrastructure.

While Sri Lanka is a low prevalence country, several factors such as poverty, conflict, low awareness levels and low condom use coupled with vulnerable groups as listed in the report, could result in the possibility of an outbreak of HIV/AIDS in the future. In such a situation, it is vital that the response to HIV/AIDS is targeted, timely and effective, recognising the needs and vulnerabilities of people living with HIV/AIDS, their families and friends, communities and vulnerable groups. This paper also maps out the role played by civil society, religious leaders, media, the private sector, international organisations and donors, and particular initiatives undertaken by these actors in their response to fight this disease. Finally, the paper sets out recommendations for future action combining a multi-sectoral approach and rights-based framework.The full content can be downloaded here.

A Profile of Human Rights and Humanitarian Issues in the Vanni and Vavuniya
This report focuses on the human rights and humanitarian situation resulting from the conflict between the Government and the LTTE, during the final phases of the war in March 2009. The report is the result of a field trip undertaken by CPA to Vavuniya during February of 2009, as well as follow up interviews, reports, articles, and a discussion held in Colombo. By highlighting critical issues and putting forward recommendations, the report aims to increase public engagement on the issues and support efforts to address the needs and rights of the affected population in this area. The full text of the report can be downloaded here.

War, Peace and Governance in SriLanka: Overview and Trends 2006
This report gives a comprehensive overview of Sri Lanka during the escalation of armed hostilities during the ‘no war/no peace’ period leading up to the abrogation of the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA). It analyses the countries peace process, political outlook, human security, governance and public opinion, as well as the state of the economy and media freedom. The full report is available for download here.

A Profile of the stigma and discrimination faced by people living with HIV/AIDS
According to recent statistics from the Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) Clinic in Sri Lanka, there are currently 712 people in Sri Lanka living with HIV/AIDS. However, as a result of the stigma, discrimination and fear associated with HIV/AIDS, many people have been reluctant to reveal their status. Furthermore, there are probably countless others who are simply unaware that they are infected. As a result, the actual number of people living with HIV/AIDS is unknown, although it is estimated by UNAIDS to be 3,500.

In view of this need to raise awareness on the issue, the Asia Pacific Leadership Forum (APLF) commissioned the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) in 2005, to conduct a study on the stigma and discrimination faced by people living with HIV/AIDS and their families, in the areas of education, employment, family life, health care, housing and social life. The study looks at the experiences and needs of people living with HIV/AIDS and their families in the aforementioned areas and formulates recommendations to help reduce levels of stigma and discrimination with regards to HIV/AIDS. The publication is available in all three languages and the English version is available online here.

Peace Confidence Index (PCI)
Peace Confidence Index (PCI) is a quarterly survey that captures the changing trends in public opinion towards the peace process. The study is used to develop a numerical indicator of the level of public confidence in the Sri Lankan peace process, while explaining the fluctuations in public opinion in response to developments in the political arena. The survey was first conducted in May 2001 and since then SI has conducted 27 waves of the study.

Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices (KAP) Survey on the Sri Lankan Peace Process
The initial KAP survey conducted in 2003 focused on understanding the nature, extent, and underlying dynamics of public support for the peace negotiations in Sri Lanka. SI subsequently conducted 2 more waves of the study in 2004 and 2005 to obtain a deeper knowledge of Sri Lankan attitudes towards the peace process and thereby provide information to policy makers. The survey was supported by a grant from United States Agency for International Development (USAID) with technical assistance from the Academy for Educational Development (AED), a non-profit organization supporting assistance programs in more than 130 countries.

A Case for Decriminalisation of Homosexuality in Sri Lanka
‘Society presumes that sexual preference is a matter of choice. But is that really the case? Is not sexual preference pre-determined? Even if it is a matter of choice, why would it be acceptable for society to force a person to change his/her choice?’This brief compiled in 1999 with the assistance of Companions on a Journey and funding by HIVOS, highlights the adverse impacts of Section 365 A of the Sri Lankan Penal Code under which homosexuality is considered an offence. By comparing the laws of other countries, exploring the cultural and religious perspectives towards homosexuality, including Sri Lanka’s own heritage, as well as through discussing the psychological aspect of homosexuality from many angles, this brief attempts to make a case for the repeal Section 365 A. The final part of the report comprises of a survey on homosexuality carried out among a cross section of people of the main religious practices in Sri Lanka.

The Federal Idea: A Glossary of English, Tamil and Sinhala
There are various fears and misconceptions about federalism in Sri Lanka. This primarily stems from a lack of understanding as to what federalism actually is and what it is not. One of the challenges is with regard to the translation of terms and concepts associated with the federal idea. Often the Sinhalese and Tamil translation of terms is difficult or erroneous, thereby contributing to the lack of clarity and misunderstanding. A well-known example of this is the fact that in Sinhala the words ‘unitary’ and ‘united’ are used interchangeably. This publication, produced in 2008 with the support of the Forum of Federations and local experts, presents some key words connected to the federal ideaand its broader application in Sri Lanka, in the form of a tri-lingual glossary.

Peace Polls Study
SI conducted the survey component of the Peace Polls study which is being carried out by Dr. Colin Irwin from the Institute of Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool. The aim of this study was to identify the differences of opinion amongst different ethnic communities on the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict and thereby assist the parties to formulate a political solution.

Land and Property Rights of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)
On 22 February 2002, a Cease Fire Agreement (CFA) was signed between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE which paved the way for a peace process to put an end to two decades of war in the island. This created enough stability for a vast majority ofthe estimated800,000 displaced to contemplate return to their homelands. Thereby land and property issues affecting displaced persons and returnees in the North and East have become issues of crucial importance.This policy brief released in 2003, aims at identifying the main land and property issues currently emerging in the North East and at providing principled and practical recommendations to relevant decision-makers to address challenges regarding land and property, resettlement, relocation, rebuilding and restoration of normalcy in the region. The full content of the report is available here. And in Sinhala here.

Publication on Power-Sharing Proposals
This publication is a compilation of all power sharing ideas and proposals articulated in the country over several decades. The compilation also contains in-depth commantaries of these proposals by leading experts on Sri Lankan constitutional law in the country including Mr. Rohan Edrisinha and Mr. Asanga Welikala of CPA. This is a joint CPA – Berghof Foundation for Conflict Resolution in Sri Lanka publication.

Constitutional Government, Fundamental Rights & States of Emergency in Sri Lanka, Asanga Welikala author
Commissioned by Friedrich Naumann Stiftung Fur Die Freiheit this monograph reviews the Sri Lankan constitutional and legislative framework relating to States of Emergency as well as governance and fundamental rights.

Hear their Voices: Promoting the Human Rights of the Most Vulnerable in Sri Lanka through Professional and Independent Media
The project’s aim is to promote and increase the society’s understanding of the human rights of the most vulnerable in Sri Lanka by improving media reporting of their issues. It addresses the priorities of “advocacy for the rights of vulnerable groups” and “enhancing education, training, monitoring and awareness raising on human rights and democratization issues”.

Profiling the Situation of IDP Children
This is a study profiling the protection concerns of children displaced due to armed conflict in Sri Lanka, commissioned by Save the Children in Sri Lanka.The study is expected to provide an opportunity to focus on issues pertaining to recent IDP children displaced since April 2006 and to document the situation in relation to their protection and care. The study will comprise of a desk research component as well as a field research component in collaboration with a team comprising of a psycho-social consultants and field researchers. The project is aimed at documenting the situation with IDP children, their needs and vulnerabilities, protection and care issues, case studies of effective protection mechanisms, the role of relevant actors, and an analysis of national laws, policies and structures relevant to protection and care needs of IDP children.

Ethnic Peace – Civil Society Survey
Prof. Ashuthosh Varshney of the Centre for South Asian Studies at the University of Michigan partnered with CPA in conducting his cross-national research on ethnic riots. In 2000, Prof. Varshney published his research on ethnic conflict and civic life to explain the role of civil society in mitigating ethnic riots in India. This research hads been expanded to five other countries that experience similar ethnic riots. SI conducted the survey component of the study by assessing civil society organizations and their work on ethnic peace in Sri Lanka in the cities of Colombo, Kandy and Negombo.