A three-day training to build the capacities of Diocesan Coordinators and Programme Volunteers working in the fields of reconciliation, peace building, conflict transformation, and inter-religious harmony was held at Caritas Sri Lanka-SEDEC from 21st – 23rd March 2018.

The main facilitator of the training was Equitas – International Centre for Human Rights Education, in collaboration with Caritas Sri Lanka-SEDEC in view of its 50th Jubilee Celebration. The training was conducted in Sinhala Medium by Mr. Sajeed Ahamed, National Coordinator of Equitas Sri Lanka and Ms. Sivagnanam Sharmiladharshini, Attorney-at-Law and Executive Director, Center for Humanitarian and Integrated Development.

The workshop focused mainly on educating the participants of the emerging trends of community development, which has gradually shifted from charity to a need-based approach and finally to the human rights based approach. Currently, the human rights- based approach for community development seems to be the universally accepted methodology, which also promotes the participatory approach for community development.

This workshop aimed at building the capacities of the participants especially in the conflict mitigation strategies that incorporate a human rights-based approach. In addition, a user-friendly guide book titled, “A human rights-based approach to mitigating conflict”, was distributed among the participants to refer to much more in-depth information about the human rights approaches and analysis.

During this three-day workshop, the participants were able to gain basic knowledge about the practice of human rights in Sri Lanka and globally. The resource persons used current socio-political incidents to exemplify the analysis and approaches. They also honed and developed the skills of the participants especially in mitigating conflicts using the human rights-based approach. The participants were able to explore strategies for effective participation of women, youth and other marginalized groups in conflict mitigation strategies and developed plans for applying their learning within their current work environment.

A panel discussion was also held on the second day of the three-day workshop with Mr. Nimal Punchihewa- Member of the Human Rights Commission and Mr. J. K. Rajapakshe- Director of ONUR (Office for National Unity & Reconciliation). The platform opened space for vibrant discussions on Human rights issues, government initiatives on reconciliation and the role of civil society organizations to support the government in the reconciliation process.

A group of 62 participants, including a few Diocesan Directors, Programme Coordinators, Volunteers and National Centre staff benefited from the training programme.