Since INCORE was established in 1993, it has provided a variety of study tour programmes and short courses for individuals and groups from Sri Lanka. During 2003-04, developments in the peace process in Sri Lanka suggested it might be a good time for LILP to attempt to build on this previous work and engage more fully in the region.
The project subsequently reinvigorated INCORE's existing networks in Sri Lanka and established new partnerships with a number of civil society organisations including INPACT (Initiative for Political and Conflict Transformation) and the Neelan Tiruchelvam Trust.
This resulted in LILP providing a range of tailored conflict resolution seminars for politicians and civil society leaders from the region, as well as the development of a programme aimed at promoting the role of the business community in contributing to peace in both Sri Lanka and Northern Ireland.
Visit of Sri Lankan Prime Minister
From March 21-23 the then Prime Minister of Sri Lanka (currently President), Hon. Mahinda Rajapakse, was in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry, speaking to senior politicians and policymakers, and learning about Northern Ireland's post-conflict social and economic regeneration from academics of the University of Ulster. LILP Project staff were responsible for facilitating the Prime Minister's visit. Mr Rajapakse met with senior politicians from the main political parties in Northern Ireland, as well as leading activists and policymakers in areas such as community relations, policing and civil society.
For a report of the visit, click here
Advisors to the President subsequently completed an extended seminar 'The Road to a Negotiated Settlement: Issues, Obstacles and Opportunities' in Northern Ireland during March 2006.
Business & Peace
Having identified the need to promote private sector involvement in the peace process in Sri Lanka, the Neelan Tiruchelvam Trust (a local grant-making organisation) invited LILP to bring a small delegation of individuals with proven track records of leading initiatives that have enhanced the contribution of business to peace in Northern Ireland to travel to Sri Lanka 8-16 October 2005.
The main objectives of the trip were to establish relationships between business leaders in Sri Lanka and Northern Ireland, and exchange best practices and lessons learned with a view to replicating initiatives and strategies.
For a full report of the visit, click here
"I found the study visit extremely beneficial and interesting. I welcomed the opportunity to share business inititiatves which have been implemented in Northern Ireland...and look forward to our future working together."(Participant Evaluation)
Representatives from the Neelan Tiruchelvam Trust and the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce then travelled to Northern Ireland 20-25 November 2005. During their visit they met with leaders from Northern Ireland's main political parties, as well as business leaders, representatives from Chambers of Commerce, Invest NI, funders and grant-making organisations.
To facilitate ongoing communications and working relationships between Northern Ireland and Sri Lanka, LILP also organised a number of 'business and peace' videoconferences using state of the art facilities at Intercomm in North Belfast.
Business and Peace
In 2006, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce made 'achieving lasting peace' a key theme of their annual Economic Summit. LILP subsequently arranged for high-profile business leaders from Northern Ireland to speak at the event 27-28 January 2006. This was a unique opportunity to support the business community in its call for peace.
"Excellent personal experience, but also equally importantly an opportunity for Northern Ireland to give back to the international community some of the very valuable support assistance it has received." (Participant Evaluation)
LILP hosted a visit by civil society leaders from Jaffna to Northern Ireland 22-26 May 2006. The purpose of the visit was to share Northern Ireland's experience of delivering education in a deeply divided society, and to discuss the role of women in peacebuilding and politics.