Sri Lanka's internal war and terrorism lasted for three decades and ended in May 2009 with the military defeat of the LTTE.Â The overall cost in terms of lives lost, property destroyed, development opportunities foregone, emotional suffering and migration of Sri Lankans is incalculable.Â The bitterness and animosity that the last stage of the war caused would be a permanent scar on the inter-ethnic relations unless there is a genuine reconciliation between the government and the Tamil leaders on the one hand and between the ethnic communities on the other.
The Norwegian government's effort to facilitate a peace process in the period 2002-06 was the last attempt to achieve peace through peaceful means. The National Peace Council supported this final effort, and it is our regret that we could not generate a people's movement for peace that would have put pressure on the warring parties not to go back to the battlefield.Â It was and remains our conviction that the outcome of peaceful negotiations would have been superior to those of a military solution and would have made a smoother transition to peace while providing a political solution.Â If it had succeeded much loss of lives and property would have been avoided.
The several efforts made to end the war through peaceful means were necessary and courageous attempts even though they failed.Â The war and terrorism arose out of a long festering ethnic conflict, the roots of which were not adequately addressed, and still have to be addressed even though the war has ended.Â The Norwegian-facilitated peace process had the goal of a peaceful solution through negotiations, and even reached a point where the government and LTTE agreed to explore a power sharing solution within a united Sri Lanka.Â But we must study the reasons for its failure and seek to apply the lessons from such failure.
The willingness of the Norwegian government to subject its peace initiative to independent scrutiny, even critical scrutiny as in this case, is an example of transparency and openness. Now that the war is over, we urge Norway and the international community to support Sri Lanka to achieve a political solution and post-war development. Members of the international community, including the United States, European Union, India and Japan that were directly involved in the peace process need to continue with their efforts to ensure peace with justice in Sri Lanka.Â Â
The National Peace Council is an independent and non partisan organisation that works towards a negotiated political solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. It has a vision of a peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka in which the freedom, human rights and democratic rights of all the communities are respected. The policy of the National Peace Council is determined by its Governing Council of 20 members who are drawn from diverse walks of life and belong to all the main ethnic and religious communities in the country.