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Promoting harmony among a multi-racial society

24 February 2015 07:03 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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As a nation we need to make attempts to bring closer understanding amongst the different divorced ethnic groups in our fragmented society. We are a nation of different religions and diverse cultures and have a tradition going back to several centuries. However, we have not been successful in bringing closer understanding and respect of each others’cultures, customs, traditions and values. Although we are fully aware of others around, we have not provided an official body to focus on this vitally important area; the absence of which could threaten the nation.We as a nation have gone through several painful ethnic conflicts during the past several decades. Within the past few years they were intensified, threatened and challenged the social framework of our society. These incidents resulted in deeply embedded hateful scars in our society.

In this area a person no less than Judge C. G. Weeramantry in his submission to the LLRC has emphasized the need for National Unity and Reconciliation. In this,  he has emphasized on two major areas of contention; Peace Education and Trust and Confidence Building. We urgently need to address these as well. It is therefore the opportune time to set up an Ethnic Relations Commission to deal with these issues.

 

"Todays society requires a huge effort to move into higher levels of  moral and social development. The emergence of extremist organizations  with the effective execution of their objectives of inculcating hateful  thoughts among the people  has created a permanent dissension"



It is in these settings the Government in its endeavour to fulfill the election pledges has released the draft amendments to the Constitution in the form of  the 19th Amendment and called for responses from political parties and the general public. Having studied these proposals, I find that it is important to suggest some improvements to the proposal to bring back the Independent Commissions under the 17th amendment and thereby abrogating the 18th amendment. All these proposed commissions have specific functions to perform and are limited to their scope.They do not adequately cover the vital area of ethnic issues concerned.

Todays society requires a huge effort to move into higher levels of moral and social development. The emergence of extremist organizations with the effective execution of their objectives of inculcating hateful thoughts among the people  has created a permanent dissension and left deep scars in some sections of the communities.

To rectify this damaging situation is by no means an easy task. It requires a good  deal of well planned and executed programmes requiring employing a great levels of soft skills. These need to be done with concerted efforts with the clear objective of bringing social cohesiveness. This effort should be viewed as an essential prerequisite in building the Nation and should be considered as critical to the harmonious existence amongst its communities.History has numerous examples of this. This is of equal importance as other social, physical and economic developmentalconcerns of the country.Economic progress will have not beeffective if there is disharmony among communities.  It therefore becomes extremely important to set up a new Commission under the name Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC).  This Commission should be charged with the addressing wide ranging issues; they need to develop and implement programmes proactively and react to situations as well. For instance, the responsibility to foster a sense of security among all ethnic groups to encourage and promote the understanding, acceptance and tolerance of diversity in all aspects of national life and promote full participation by all ethnic groups in the social, economic, cultural and political life of the people.

Also promotion of educational and training programmes and research projects which provide and encourage ethnic peace and harmonywhich are vital areas not addressed so far in a meaningful manner.  Efforts must be made to include within the school education.

These will encourage and create respect for religious, cultural and other forms of diversity in the plural society we composed of. We also need to promote arbitration, reconciliation, mediation and like forms of dispute resolution in order to secure ethnic harmony and peace.In addition, we need to establish mechanisms and procedures for arbitration, reconciliation, mediation and like forms of dispute resolution that would ensure ethnic harmony and peace.
This Commission therefore will have a wide range of scope. In order to ensure its   effectiveness the Commission should have a membership consisting all communities and representing all geographical regions.This model has been successfully implemented in Guayana. If instituted and implemented effectively in Sri Lanka, it can well become a good model for other mult-iracial countries like ours.

Writer can be contacted on sacmzuhyle@gmail.com
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