Right to Life Human Rights Center (R2L) facilitated a consultation on the challenges and responsibilities of civil society in Sri Lanka in the present context. The discussion was attended by 34 representatives mainly from three organizations: the National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ), Aluth Kathabaha (New Dialogue), and Platform for Freedom.
The discussion focused on the role of civil society in economic, political, and state reforms. Participants discussed how civil society can promote and strengthen public participation in governance through the Sectoral Oversight Committees in the parliament, provincial councils, local governments, and people’s councils.
An organizing structure was formed to broaden the civil society coalition. The discussion was moderated by Philip Dissanayake, Executive Director of R2L.
- Prof. Chandraguptha Thenuwara delivered the welcome speech and clarified the purpose of the meeting.
- Mr. Karu Jayasuriya, chair of the NMSJ, delivered the keynote address.
- Prof. Rohan Samarajiva delivered the main presentation on economic reforms.
- Chartered Accountant Harsha Gunasena moderated the discussion on economic reforms.
- Senior journalist C.J. Amarathunga led the discussion on political reforms.
- Dulan Dasanayaka, AAL, moderated the discussion on political reforms.
Participants agreed that civil society must continue to play a strong role in promoting economic, political, and state reforms in Sri Lanka. They also agreed that it is important to broaden and strengthen civil society networks in order to be more effective in achieving their goals.
The organizing structure that was formed will work to achieve these goals. It will coordinate the activities of civil society organizations and facilitate collaboration between them. It will also advocate for the interests of civil society and promote public participation in governance.
The discussion was a productive and informative event. It helped to identify the challenges and responsibilities of civil society in Sri Lanka and to develop a plan for moving forward.