by John Stephen Moolakkattu, ‘Cooperation & Conflict,’ Nordic International Studies Assoc. December 1, 2005
It is now four years since Norway formally embarked on the difficult task of facilitating negotiations in the protracted ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. With an international record in peace-making and development
assistance, Norway entered the fray with unmatched legitimacy. Unlike Norway’s previous efforts aimed at brokering peace, the Sri Lankan facilitation was undertaken by assigning a conspicuous role to key governmental functionaries, and was less secretive in nature. Although a ceasefire has been signed and six rounds of talks between the government and the Tamil Tigers have been held, Norway’s third-party role has been criticized by nationalists for being partial towards the Tigers, and by a section of peace activists for focusing on a minimalist agenda of peace. In this article, I examine the qualifications and motivations of Norway as a facilitator and also the different perceptions that the key stakeholders have about its third-party role. Furthermore, I assess the
nature of the Norwegian efforts so far and the hurdles ahead for taking the peace process forward.