Helgesen talks on Sri Lanka at US Peace Institute

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 30 September 2003, 19:58 GMT]
In a public discussion at the United States Institute of Peace, located in 17th Street NW, in Washington D.C, Norway's Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr. Vidar Helgesen, Monday spoke on "Norway's Experience in Sri Lanka and Elsewhere: Lessons for Conflict Resolution."

vidar_helgesen.gifWilliam Milam, former US ambassador to Liberia, Bangladesh and Pakistan, and Ms. Harriet Hentges, Executive Vice President for USIP participated in the discussion, which also included questions from the audience.

Ms. Hentges, in her introduction, spoke about how Norway in its facilitator role in numerous countries carries neither a big carrot, nor a big stick. She emphasized that both the substance of negotiations, as well as the actual process itself, are important to the success of the peace process. She added that the parties themselves need to be willing to come to an agreement and that to reach a successful agreement effective mediation machinery as well as back channels are necessary. Norway has proved effective in providing this machinery, she said.

The discussions on Sri Lanka which followed were informed by the organizers as 'off the record,' and cannot be reported in detail.

Many tough and controversial topics, including ceasefire violations, co-habitation, terrorism, democracy, and the role of the international community and civil society, were covered in the wide-ranging discussion. Mr. Helgesen covered these topics in an even-handed and forthright manner, according to sources attending the discussion.

The United States Institute of Peace is an independent, nonpartisan federal institution created by Congress to promote the prevention, management, and peaceful resolution of international conflicts. Established in 1984, the Institute meets its congressional mandate through an array of programs, including research grants, fellowships, professional training, education programs from high school through graduate school, conferences and workshops, library services, and publications. The Institute's Board of Directors is appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate.

 

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