Overcoming Obstacles to Peace: An Examination of Third-Party Processes
William Weisberg and Donna Hicks
A third party could be a critical element in any strategy to resolve the armed conflict between the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). 1 In Sri Lanka there are a number of obstacles to a negotiated settlement. Specifically, there are three obstacles present in this conflict that could be overcome more easily if the two sides engaged a third party. We describe the obstacles to negotiation and how they might be overcome.
On the government side, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and its current governing coalition, the People's Alliance (PA), and the United National Party (UNP) have, in the context of ethnic tensions and nationalist sentiment, scored political points against each other for decades. 2 Most recently, the two major parties continue to dispute approaches to reduce ethnic tension and end the war. The PA has pushed for constitutional reform through the devolution package; the UNP has not fully engaged in debate on the package. Ranil Wickremasinghe, the leader of the UNP, stated that he did not wish to vote on the devolution package until the LTTE was brought into negotiations on it; President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga has stated that she would only talk to the LTTE once there had been significant progress on the proposal. Even though the British government nego-