Wednesday, 16 November 2016 14:44

NPC Launches New Project – Religions to Reconcile Featured

NPC has launched a new project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), focused on strengthening community networks mentored by religious leaders and engaging them in building consensus for transitional justice and a pluralistic identity.

The project, Religions to Reconcile: Strengthening Inter-Religious People-to-People Community Engagement for Reconciliation and Social Cohesion in Post-Conflict Sri Lanka, is implemented in partnership with Generations for Peace (GFP), an international peace-building organisation based in Amman, Jordan.

The new government has begun a process of reconciliation with its framework of an Office of Missing Persons; a Truth, Justice, Reconciliation and Non Recurrence Commission; a Judicial Mechanism; and an Office of Reparations. Progress on the path towards reconciliation continues to face internal and external challenges. A people-to-people approach to reconciliation is vital at this critical moment. Concerns of the people in North over political disempowerment and past injustices have not yet been addressed properly. Reconciliation needs to engage the Sri Lankan public in order to address systemic hurdles and inequalities and build solutions and healthy inter-communal relationships.

The goals of the Religions to Reconcile project include strengthening the capacity of District Inter-Religious Councils (DIRCs) to lead engagement in social and political reform for sustainable Transitional Justice. The project builds upon the credibility of DIRCs as message bearers in order to support people to engage across conflict divides, break down barriers, foster acceptance for a pluralistic national identity, and support inter-district community engagement through exchange visits between DIRC-led communities.

NPC has established 16 DIRCs across the country that have brought together religious leaders and key stakeholders from different faith groups to identify common needs and lead efforts to address them. Under the new project, NPC will set up two new DIRCs in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu, and develop the capacity of six already-established DIRCs. The 26-month project targets Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar, Puttalam, Nuwara Eliya, Galle, Matara and Ampara districts.

Nationalist and racist ideologies are negatively affecting the establishment of a long lasting peace between diverse ethnic and religious groups in Sri Lanka. Therefore, a people-to-people approach to reconciliation is vital and timely at this critical moment to foster ethnic and religious harmony.