Since the end of a civil war that lasted over 26 years, Sri Lanka’s government and society is engaging in a process of democratization despite facing obstacles such as reoccuring conflicts based on radicalization and religious extremism. Helvetas aspires with this project to contribute to a peaceful post-conflict society by empowering the country’s youth, bringing together all ethnic-religious communities as promoters of pluralism, democratic principles and civic participation.
Since the end of the 26-year civil war ten years ago, Sri Lanka has engaged in the task of building a functioning democracy. However, this process has been repeatedly threatened by conflicts. The clashes based on radicalisation and religious extremism have been fuelled additionally by the power of their rapid spread through social media and have intensified distrust between the different ethnic and religious communities in the country.
Although the Government of Sri Lanka, supported by the international community, has taken substantial steps regarding the democratisation process and in improving freedom of expression, the space and capacity for political participation of the country's young generation is still small. Thus, their involvement in the political debate and the contribution to the democratisation process remains limited. In current times it is more important than ever to promote democratic participation of all groups within society. This project, financed by the Federal Foreign Office under the zivik funding programme of the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa), targets youth across all ethnic and religious backgrounds of the country and aims to contribute to a functioning democracy and thereby to a peaceful coexistence in Sri Lanka.
The aim of this five-month project, which will be implemented in the districts of Matara, Galle, Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Killinochchi, is to strengthen the capacity of young voters to act as active citizens and to increase their understanding of and participation in democratic processes and a pluralistic society. In this way, they will be able to advocate for the aspirations of the country's youth and hold political decision-makers accountable. Additional discussion forums and consultations with youth and other civil society groups in the five districts of Sri Lanka will further contribute to a pluralistic society. Young people who are empowered to act as promoters of the democratisation process advocate for democratic principles and for the strengthening of democratic leadership in the country.
Key activities include: