Sharing knowledge for sustainable peace:
Economic progress next goal
Keynote address by Secretary to the President
Lalith Weeratunga at the annual symposium of Kotelawala Defence
University on August 20, 2010
The annual symposium 2010 with the theme ‘Sharing knowledge for
sustainable peace’ will discuss many important aspects pertaining to
peace. There are many important things we need to remember when we talk
about sustainable peace. It cannot be at the cost of the integrity of
one’s country. The symposium comes at an opportune time, just over one
year after the dawn of peace in Sri Lanka following the eradication of
terrorism. Peace was won at a steep cost.
Many sacrifices were made by the personnel of the Armed Services and
much hardship was borne by civilians over three decades.
That’s a huge sacrifice by a peaceful nation. Sustaining the peace
achieved thus is of paramount importance. Symposia of this nature will
be helpful in this regard, considering the challenges the country faces
today and the measures that need to be adopted to overcome them.
Conflicts and some causes
The number of armed conflicts that have been occurring regionally and
globally has increased massively since the end of the Cold War. Some of
the reasons for these conflicts are: Inequitable distribution of
resources; Lack of mechanisms for non-violent conflict resolution;
Breakdown of communication; Ignorance about the ‘other’, leading to
distortion and mistrust etc. These conflicts have many devastating
effects: lose of life, destruction of economics capacity and public
infrastructure, undermining of public, private and civil society
organizations and subsequent difficulty in attracting new demotic and
foreign investment. All of these substantially set back the national
development trajectories of the countries affected. In our country we
have seen these devastating effects.
In countries affected by conflict, the challenges in both conflict
and post-conflict situation are complex due to different political,
social and geographical contexts. However, there are some universities
shared values, principles and key elements that have been found to be
vital for sustainable peace. Among these is the need to ensure sharing
of knowledge and information among different actors in the process.
Another vital ingredient for sustainable peace, that is economic
progress, has to be a key priority. The Government is already doing an
enormous amount of work in building infrastructure and capacity. The
private sector must also invest on a large scale and contribute to the
economic revival. The goal of President Mahinda Rajapaksa is to ensure
that our per capita income goes up to 4,000 US dollars by 2015, having
enhanced it to 2,040 US dollars last year from a little over 1,000 in
the year 2005.
A key benefit of economic progress will be sustained peace. As the
President has often remarked, “there cannot be development without peace
and peace without development.” As the nation develops, the issues of
contention between communities become less and less stark one of the
factors fuelling the war was the lack of economic opportunity. As we all
strive for a better future in a land of opportunity, peace will almost
automatically ensure. Economic progress, particularly in the former war
torn areas, will also help heal ill feelings in the Diaspora.
Access to knowledge and reliable and objective information is a vital
element of democratic process and settings. Successful knowledge and
information management systems encourage openness, inclusiveness and
sharing. They strengthen relations, trust and coordination among
Multiple information systems, including Websites and databases,
operating at global, regional and local levels, create the potential for
an unprecedented degree of cooperation between organizations and people
at the field level, between the field and headquarters and between the
international and local communities.
To be continued