NPC welcomes Geneva agreement, requests space for civil society during talks

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 28 February 2006, 12:53 GMT]
The National Peace Council (NPC) congratulates the Sri Lanka government and LTTE delegations for reaching agreement to "uphold the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA), and thereby to ensure an end to all violence, and to meet again to take the peace process forward," and requests the parties "to provide space at future peace talks for civic groups to be observers of the formal peace talks."

Full text of the release follows:

CIVIL SOCIETY NEEDS TO BE GIVEN SPACE AT PEACE TALKS

The successful conclusion of the first round of peace talks between the government and LTTE in Geneva has come as a great relief to the peace loving people of Sri Lanka.With the agreement reached in Geneva, the prospects for a resumption of the peace process and a political solution have brightened.Both sides have left the negotiating table with the satisfaction of achieving their main objectives. The National Peace Council congratulates the government and LTTE delegations who reached agreement to uphold the Ceasefire Agreement, and thereby to ensure an end to all violence, and to meet again to take the peace process forward.

The government and LTTE have fixed April 19-21 as the dates of their next meeting in Geneva. Their decision reflects their confidence in the Norwegian facilitation and Swiss government logistical support that contributed to the successful outcome of the first round of peace talks. In addition to upholding the Ceasefire Agreement, the parties agreed to ensure that there would be no intimidation, violence, abductions, killing or child recruitment.NPC strongly hopes that the two parties will implement the agreements they have reached, and that international and civil society would support them, as this would serve as an important confidence building mechanism that can pave the way for an ongoing process of negotiations based on mutual gains.

In view of the importance of the peace talks in Geneva, NPC took a civil society group to Geneva that included undergraduate students from the north east and south. Coming from diverse regions and ethnic backgrounds in the country, the students met with various UN officials,academics and international NGOs to expose to the international community the struggles of the Sri Lankan people as a result of conflict as well as to gain support for the country's peace process. Among others, students met with members from the UN treaty body, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, scholars from the Graduate Institute of International Studies, representatives of the Minority Rights Group International and officials from the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights.

Not only were the students keen stakeholders in the peace process and with the potential to be its future civic leaders. Their presence in Geneva provided space for a non-partisan voice to emerge in terms of media coverage and the “micro talks” within civil society.NPC requests the government and LTTE to provide space at future peace talks for civic groups to be observers of the formal peace talks.This would empower civil society to be a strong support and partner for peace at the macro level alongside the government, LTTE and Norwegian facilitators.

 

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