Youth have traditionally been a volatile sector of Sri Lankan society engaging in two Marxist insurrections and in the civil war that lasted three decades. A part of the reason has been the lack of inclusion of youth in dialogue processes, which can make them susceptible to nationalist propaganda. Opportunities to harness the positive role that young men and women can play in social change and in the promotion of peace have not, to date, been properly utilised, in particular the power of young women as a driving force.
Under the project, law students are being trained and mentored to use Transitional Justice mechanisms as an effective and non-violent way to address past abuses. University students are being empowered to become engaged in positive dialogue, including with policy makers, on Transitional Justice and reconciliation activities. Young grassroots activists will be supported to understand and address key youth concerns and transmit them to policy makers.
The three strategies undertaken by the project aimed at various groups of young women and men are:
- Empowerment of young lawyers, focusing on a conflict hotspot in a minority Tamil area, to access the Transitional Justice system as professionals;
- The increase in knowledge of Transitional Justice processes, particularly among the student population in majority Sinhalese areas, and subsequent positive engagement in the process including through interfacing with the government’s Transitional Justice policy makers;
- The creation of youth grassroots insider mediators who understand and tackle youth concerns regarding the Transitional Justice process and enter a two-way dialogue with the government’s transitional justice policy makers.