Memorandum to the Government, the LTTE, and the Norwegian Facilitators From Women's Organizations of Sri Lanka

Women's Organizations of Sri Lanka
Sunday, June 9, 2002 - 20:00
Southern Asia
Sri Lanka
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
General Women, Peace and Security
Peace Processes
Initiative Type: 

We, the representatives of women's organizations in Sri Lanka came together in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 7 June 2002 to make recommendations regarding women, conflict, and the peace process. In our deliberations we came to the following conclusions:

  1. As Sri Lankan women, we accept the common destiny of all the people living in the island of Sri Lanka and recognize the multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multilingual nature of our society. Women and women's organizations in Sri Lanka have been working steadily and consistently for peace during the last two decades. We therefore welcome the Ceasefire AGreement between the government and the LTTE and the opportunity it provides for a lasting peace based on a just and honourable settlement. We fully support all efoorts at peacemaking nad peace building and urge the parties in the peace process to be includisve and fully involve all levels of society in the peace process.
  2. As women concerned about the peace process, we are determined to ensure that:

    (a) Women are included in all aspects of the peace process
    (b) Women's issues and concerns for an integral part of the peacea genda
    (c) Human rights are fully protected at every stage of the peace process
  3. We welcome the United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 which reiterates the importance of brining a women's perspective to bear on al aspects of peace making, peace building, rehabilityation and reconstruction. We urge the Sri Lankan Government, the LTTE, and all those involved in peace building, rehabilitation and reconstruction initiatives to fully implement this resolution.
  4. We recognize that women in particular have been victimized by war and conflict in Sri Lanka, that they have been subjec tot he worst forms of violence, been displaced and made into refugees, compelled to live as war widows, and forced into prstitution and sexual slavery. Women have watched their family members disappear and their children conscripted into the fighting forces. They have suffered physical disabilities and psychosocial trauma because of the war. Therefore, women's realitities and women's voices must be an essential part of the peace process in Sri Lanka.
  5. We are concerned that as of date women are not part of the formal peace process. We insist that women be given equal participation and full involvement in all efforts of peace negotiations between the government and LTTE. Women must be an integral and essential part of the discussions leading up to the formal negotiations, in the monitoring of the ceasefire and other interim arrangements, in the formal negotiations between the government and the LTTE, and in the post-conflict arrangements.
  6. The full participation of women in decision-making in all phases of the reconstruction, rehabilitation and transformation process is absolutely essential. We strongly urge the Government, the LTTE, and Humanitarian Agencies to fully include women in the economic recovery that results from the peace process.
  7. Women have distinct priorities and specific needs regarding the role of the state and the constitution. Women should be included in all constitutional deliberations and the views and the preferences of Sri Lankan women should be actively solicited and taken into account in the formulation.
  8. We call on the Government and the LTTE to address the substantive issues and formulate specialized programs for areas that are of particular concern to women, including:

    Violence and Sexual Violence Against Women
    Refugees and Internally Displaced Women
    Protection of the Rights of Women During Resettlement
    Property Rights and Repossession of Homes, Land, and Title
    Women in Custody
    War Widows
    Families of Detainees
    Families of the Disappeared
    Families of Soldiers, Combatants, and those Missing in Action
    Women Combatants and Women in the Armed Forces
    Provision of Food, Housing, Clean Water, Healthcare, Education, and Basic Services
    Trauma and Counseling
    Economic and Social Rights of Women
    Trafficking of Women
    Forced Prostitution

  9. We call upon all parties to the armed conflict to fully represent international law applicable to the rights and protection of women and of children, especially as civilians, in particular the obligations applicable to them under the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Additional Protocols thereto of 1977, the Refugee Convention of 1951 and the Protocol thereto of 1967, CEDAW and the Optional Protocol of 1999 and the UN Convention on the Rights of Child 1989 and the Protocol thereto of 25 May 2000 and to bear in mind the relevant provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The Parties should also respect the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Sri Lankan Women's Charter.
  10. All efforts toward peace must take place within the norms and standards of human rights and humanitarian law. International norms of human rights law must not be compromised in the negotiation and implementation of peace agreements and the interests of the civilian population must received the greatest attention. The Government and the LTTE must agree to address the following human rights concerns through a Human Rights Agreement:

    Extrajudicial Killings
    The Government and the LTTE shall refrain from extrajudicial killings including murder, summary executions, political assassinations, and causing disappearances.

    Arrests and Detentions

    No person shall be arrested or detained except according to a law that meets international standards. Those arbitrarily detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act should be released as soon as possible, and the Act should be repealed.

    Rape and Torture

    No person shall be tortured or raped, and parties should agree to a full investigation of the allegations of rape or torture.

    Free Movements of Goods and People

    The Government and the LTTE shall allow people to return to their homes with minimal intrusions on their movement, and maximum protection of their security. The Government and LTTE should ensure the free movement of people and the free movement of goods to all parts of the island.


    No one should be subject to extortion of illegal levies. All taxes shall be open, transparent, and imposed only pursuant to legitimate authority conferred by a representative body that is recognized by both parties to the conflict.

    Child Conscription
    The Government and the LTTE shall agree not to conscript children into their fighting forces. Children in the fighting forces shall be released forthwith.

    Abduction and Kidnapping

    The Government and the LTTE shall ensure that there is an end to abduction and kidnapping.

    Women's Rights
    The Government and the LTTE shall recognize women's rights as human rights and monitors all those under their command for any abuses against women. Both parties should ensure conditions that are conducive to the full enjoyment of the rights of women.

    Political Freedom
    The Government and the LTTE shall respect the freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, the right to vote free from intimidation and violence, and inclusiveness in political representation. All parties shall agree to respect the right to political dissent and refrain from political violence.

    Economic and Social Rights

    The Government and LTTE should recognize economic and social rights as human rights, and ensure that all individuals can enjoy basic levels of food, housing, clean water, education, and healthcare. The economic and social rights of women should be protected. They should fully participate in the labor force and have access to all the economic opportunities provided by the peace process.

    Monitoring and Enforcement
    Women should be represented in the monitoring committees, and all members of the monitoring committees should be trained to respond effectively to the complaints brought by women.
    The monitoring committees should be given full powers to enforce the ceasefire agreement so that they can act quickly and effectively.
    Monitoring committees should be accessible to civilians and the present Sri Lankan monitoring committees should be restructured to include independent monitors.

  11. We call on all those who are involved in the peace process to ensure that the rights of local communities and ethnic groups and the rights of women within these communities are protected. The participation of the Muslim community in the peace process must be ensured to guarantee that all sections of society are duly represented. The value of diversity and the special needs of different communities including those living in the border areas, the plantation community, and other ethnic and cultural minorities must be reflected in a final constitutional settlement.
    We call upon the Government and the LTTE to respect the autonomy and independence of the media and civil society institutions which include women's organizations. These organizations should be allowed to function freely in all parts of the island.
  12. We urge the Government, the LTTE, and the Norwegian facilitators to consider the creation of institutions such as Truth and Reconciliation Commissions to record and acknowledge the history of suffering of all communities due to conflict and to deal with issues of accountability and justice.
  13. As women, we are deeply concerned about the militarization of society due to armed conflict. The high levels of domestic violence, rape, and sexual harassment are directly linked to a climate of impunity encouraged by the war. Peace efforts should directly address this problem and special measures should be taken to counteract militarization and its negative effects.

Women and the Peace Process in Sri Lanka: Proposed Plan of Action

Proposed follow-up to the meeting of women and women's organizations initiated by the International Centre for Ethnic Studies, the Women and Media Collective and the Social Scientists Association on 7 June 2002.

  1. The Memorandum to the President, Prime Minister, a representative of the LTTE's Political Wing in Vavuniya and the Norwegian High Commissioner will be finalized and translated in the week following the meeting.
  2. Appointments will be sought from the relevant parties of the 20th or 21st of June and arrangements made to inform women and women's organizations who wish to be part of the delegations.
  3. Delegations to meet at ICES to keep the Colombo appointments and the delegation wishing to travel to Vavuniya to contact Dulcy Silva at the Women and Media Collective for travel details.
  4. The Memorandum will be released to the press on the day of the appointments. The Memorandum will be handed over to the relevant UN offices subsequently.
  5. The ICES/WMC and SSA will create a list serve of all the women and women's organizations attending the meeting of the 7th and extend it to any other women and organizations wishing to be included.
  6. The list serve will be a site for the collection and dissemination of information on women's activities and activism on peace making, peace building and seeking a political resolution to the conflict.
  7. Information will be shared on special focus groups such as the displaced, communities living in the "border" areas, female headed households, women victims of violence, etc.
  8. A human rights framework will be lobbied for and information on human rights violations will be shared and referred to relevant authorities.

ICES, WMC, SSA : 10 June 2002