Government approves National Policy

Implement within two years – Ganesan

Political analysts have welcomed the Cabinet Approval of the National Policy on Reconciliation and Coexistence and have also urged the government to implement the said policy at the earliest, in accordance with the two year timeframe granted by the United Nations.

The policy has been viewed by experts as a substantial step towards addressing the Sri Lanka’s undertaking to the United Nations in terms of reconciliation and accountability.
The government in March had requested a two-year time period to implement the recommendations of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

The Cabinet had recently approved a joint proposal made by President Maithripala Sirisena and Minister of National Integration and Reconciliation and Minister of National Coexistence, Dialogue and Official Languages, Mano Ganesan with regard to establishing a national policy on reconciliation and coexistence.

“The policy has to be implemented within two years, the timeframe which the government had requested from the UN to fulfill its undertakings,” Ganesan told the Nation last week.
The aforementioned Ministries along with the Ministry of Prison Reforms and Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs and the Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms are tasked with the implementation of the said policy.

The policy acknowledges the principle of power-sharing as the means of reaching a political
settlement, which would address the grievances and aspirations of all communities as a necessary constituent for reconciliation.

One of its objectives is also to provide direction to national reconciliation and coexistence by addressing past violence and conflict, and through envisioning of a shared future that fosters national unity and peaceful coexistence among all peoples and communities in the country.

The principles and goals of the said policy purport to be equality, human rights including linguistic rights, national coexistence and diversity, ownership, justice including transitional justice and the rule of law, sustainable development, and civic-consciousness. Apart from the aforementioned principles, the designing and implementation of activities, initiatives and programmes pertaining to such will be guided by principles such as conflict sensitivity, cross cultural awareness, victim-centeredness, gender responsiveness, efficiency and effectiveness, coordination and complementarity, leadership and sustainability, foresight and innovation, and clear and consistent communication.

Strategies that will be adopted in the implementation of the said policy include the development of a national action plan and affirmative action programmes on the matter, the identification of marginalized social groups, public awareness and education campaigns in this regard, and mainstreaming these values in Governmental institutions via annual work plans.

The policy, developed by the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation was previously submitted in September last year before a revised version was resubmitted in February this year.

The latest policy is the result of work done by the Department of Official Languages, the Official Languages Commission, the National Institute of Language Education and Training, the National Secretariat of Non-Governmental Organizations, the Language Rights Directorate and the Coexistence Dialogue Directorate in consultation with the relevant Government Ministries, agencies, departments, Provincial administrations, the academia, civil society representatives and other relevant stakeholders.