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Sri Lankan business chambers to work on peace building, ethnic hotspots

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan business chambers have begun a program to contribute to peace building and reducing ethnic tensions in the island, using their regional networks and lobbying skills.

A statement from the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, the main business lobby, said they had started a programme on mediation techniques and skills for ethnic conflict resolution. 

It was “with a view to preparing private sector partners for a possible role in initiating peace dialogues through the business community.”

The programme was done with the help of the United Nations office in Sri Lanka.

Later, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC), along with other chambers from across the country met to discuss businesses’ roles in peace building, the statement said.

“The chambers discussed the possibility of linking up with regional chambers and identifying ‘hotspots’ for ethnic tensions, then strategizing preventive measures by engaging youth and local businesses to mobilise in moments of need to intervene in the event of conflict.”

During the meeting, CCC’s chief executive DharaWijayatilake stressed the importance of the private sector playing an active role in peace building, especially since a survey conducted by the United Nations revealed that the general public has invested a lot of confidence in the sector.

“We believe it is important to prevent conflict. The potential for conflict is there, and it is very natural that conflict happens — but we often forget that it’s much wiser to respect people,” she said.

They also discussed the need to enhance communication and financial skills to strengthen trade associations and the business community, while identifying peace-specific programmes to engage in.

Representatives from the United Nations, the Central Province Chamber of Commerce, the Hambanthota District Chamber of Commerce, the Sabaragamuwa Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Employees Federation of Ceylon were among the organisations present at the discussion.
(COLOMBO, April 09, 2019)

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