The National Peace Forum, held on the 29th and 30th of May 2024, brought together a diverse group of participants to foster dialogue and build peace among all communities in Sri Lanka. Funded by CAFOD and MISEREOR, the event took place at the CSL Auditorium, running from 9:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. each day under the guidance of Rev. Fr. Luke Nelson Perera – National Director, Caritas Sri Lanka.

The forum welcomed a mix of beneficiaries where twenty-eight men and nine women including religious leaders, government officers, media personnel, youths from 13 DCs and stakeholders.  There was a presentation of the Caritas Diocesan Directors –  Fr. Alec Roy- Director of  Anuradhapura DC,  Fr. Dilan Marians-Director of Chilaw,  Fr. Heshan-Director of Colombo, Fr. Jesudasan-Acting Director of SED Galle and  Fr. Desmond-Director of Kandy. There were 13 DC-level Peace Coordinators along with the National Center Staff.

The primary objective of the National Peace Forum was to create a platform for national dialogue aimed at building peace and harmony among all communities in Sri Lanka. This goal was pursued through insightful speeches and discussions led by the following distinguished guest speakers under the theme “ National Dialogues to build Peace and Harmony among all Communities in Sri Lanka”

  1. Mr. Hejaaz Hizbullah – Lawyer/Social Activist

-Theme: Law Enforcement and Violation of Law in Sri Lanka

  1. Rev. Fr. Hari Haran – Catholic Priest / Diocese of Ratnapura

– Theme: Undermining Multi-Culturalism in a Hegemonic Backdrop

  1. Ven. Rahula Thero – Environmentalist/Social Activist

– Theme: Environmental Justice for Peace

  1. Ms. Himalee Kularathna – Lawyer

– Theme: Victimization and Marginalization: Barriers to Peace and Social Cohesion

  1. Mr. Rohana Hettiarachchi – Executive Director of People’s Action for Free & Fair Elections (PAFFREL)

– Theme: Election and Current Political Situation in Sri Lanka

A key highlight of the forum was the active participation of representatives from various religious and ethnic communities from every district. The involvement of government officials, young people, and religious leaders made the event particularly significant. The setting was ideal for establishing meaningful dialogue among these diverse groups.

Through the discussions and interactive activities, members of the National Peace Forum were able to understand each other’s perspectives and collaboratively offer solutions to peace-related issues. The vibrant and engaging program created a spirit of cooperation and mutual understanding among the participants.

Several action points emerged from the forum, with suggestions and recommendations for projects to be carried out over the next three years. Participants focused on common peace-related issues in their dioceses and discussed these with the resource persons to find viable solutions. General feedback from the attendees emphasized the importance of regional peace forums to address localized conflicts and promote community-based peace initiatives.

The National Peace Forum provided a crucial platform for stakeholders from various sectors to come together and discuss peace-related issues at the national level. The forum promoted collaboration and collective action towards peace-building by bringing together representatives from government, civil society, and other relevant sectors. These forums served as spaces for sharing experiences, exchanging ideas, and developing strategies to address conflicts and promote peaceful coexistence.

The event marked a significant step towards unity and harmony in Sri Lanka. As participants returned to their communities, they carried with them the knowledge and motivation to continue the peace-building process at a grassroots level. The forum underscored the power of dialogue and collective effort in building a peaceful nation, setting the stage for ongoing efforts towards national unity and reconciliation.