Civilian protection in Sri Lanka under threat
Edward Benson, Bhavani Fonseka, Ambika Satkunanathan
The papers by Benson and Fonseka are based on presentations given at the September 2009 conference hosted by the RSC on Protecting People in Conflict and Crisis: Responding to the Challenges of a Changing World. The paper by Satkunanathan was presented in a follow-up roundtable discussion on Post War Future in Sri Lanka hosted by the RSC and the Centre for Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity. These papers contribute to the debate on humanitarianism and civilian protection. They discuss the contradictions, tensions, ambiguities and dilemmas of UN and international organisations in protecting civilians in times of conflict. Benson describes UNHCR's work on both needs and rights in Sri Lanka during the peace process, particularly with regards to IDPs, at a time when the organisation's mandate was expanding to cover more rights-based protection. Satkunanathan's paper describes the tension faced by the agencies between addressing protection and assistance needs of the displaced population. Finally, Fonseka's paper is a useful summary of the dilemmas and constraints faced by humanitarian workers and NGOs within the post-war situation, and highlights many of the problems faced by activists who are working inside Sri Lanka.