LKI Working Paper released on 'Sri Lanka - China Economic Relations in Comparative Perspective'

Image Credit- vidumg / depositphotos

Image Credit- vidumg / depositphotos

The LKI Working Paper series, launched this year, features scholarship on subjects related to Sri Lanka’s foreign policy, authored by LKI researchers and also by visiting and non-resident fellows.

This Working Paper, available here, is by LKI Research Director, Ravindra Deyshappriya, on "Sri-Lanka China Economic Relations in Comparative Perspective: Ample Room to Grow". The paper traces the evolution of trade, investment and tourism relations between China and Sri Lanka, and analyses these relations in a comparative regional context.

One of the major findings of the study is that, although China has been a major FDI source and lender to Sri Lanka in recent years, FDI is still very low compared to Chinese FDI to other Asian countries. Similarly, although China is now the second largest source of tourists to Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka does not rank among even the top 25 outbound destinations of Chinese tourists. This comparative perspective carries significant strategic potential for Sri Lankan policymakers.

Lecture and Discussion on Maritime Policy in the Indo-Pacific with Professor Shin Kawashima

The LKI was pleased to have Prof. Shin Kawashima, of the Department of International Relations at the University of Tokyo, deliver a lecture on “Maritime Policy in the Indo-Pacific” on 20 December 2016. The LKI also welcomed insights from Prof. Imtiaz Ahmed, Executive Director of the Regional Centre for Strategic Studies. The event was chaired by Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, member of the LKI Board of Management.

In his opening remarks (see below for a transcript), Dr. Saravanamuttu emphasised the uncertainty of global politics following November 2016, which would decide the viability of concepts such as the Indo-Pacific. He pointed out that the Indo-Pacific was currently more of a geographic construct than a strategic reality, given the difference between US hegemony in the Pacific and the plurality of great power interests in the Indian Ocean. Nevertheless, given that India had indicated that it was ‘set to sail’ in the Indo-Pacific, he stated that the imperative was to put away traditional paradigms and think anew about regional security.

Professor Kawashima’s lecture traced the history of Chinese foreign policy in the Indo-Pacific and highlighted how it has changed in recent years. He argued that the somewhat flexible foreign policy of the Deng Xiaoping era was being replaced by a more uncompromising attitude towards territorial and security issues. With regard to maritime regions like the Indo-Pacific, he pointed out that China had a unique conceptualisation of ‘blue territory’, which demarcated maritime regions adjacent to the Chinese coast (such as the South China Sea) as Chinese ‘territory’. Prof. Kawashima also stated that the current Xi Jinping administration had a two-pronged approach to foreign policy, where China would responsibly contribute to global society on one hand, and become increasingly assertive in its neighbourhood (including the Indo-Pacific). To view the PowerPoint of Professor Kawashima's presentation, click here.

In his presentation, Professor Ahmed conveyed that different civilisations have different perspectives towards concepts such as the Indo-Pacific. He argued that emerging concepts like the Indo-Pacific cannot be adequately explained via traditional realist paradigms, and highlighted the value of Asian perspectives that used the human individual (rather than the nation-state) as their conceptual core. Prof. Ahmed maintained that the value of such perspectives was further heightened by the rise of globalisation. On the question of how South Asia, and by extension the Indo-Pacific, could continue to rise in the face of anti-globalist trends, Prof. Ahmed emphasised that investment in people, i.e. human capital, is the key.

The lecture and discussion was attended by a diverse audience, including representatives of think tanks, the Foreign Ministry, the Navy, the diplomatic corps, universities, and the private sector. Many thanks to the Embassy of Japan in Sri Lanka for their support in facilitating this lecture at the LKI, and to the speakers and Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu for chairing the session.

To listen to the speakers' presentations, visit our SoundCloud page.


Further reading on Maritime Policy in the Indo-Pacific

1. ‘Indo-Pacific Maritime Security: Challenges and Cooperation’, David Brewster (ed.), National Security College, Australian National University, July 2016.

2. 'Advancing Maritime Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific' by Nilanthi Samaranayake, Galle Dialogue 2016.

3. ‘Japan’s Indo-Pacific policy’ by Takashi Shirahashi, background paper for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 30 October 2015.

4. ‘A Term Whose Time Has Come: The Indo-Pacific’ by Rory Medcalf, The Diplomat, 4 December 2012.

5. Address by Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, on ‘Sri Lanka and its place in the world’ made at Wellington, New Zealand, 3 October 2016

6. India-Japan Joint Statement during the visit of the Prime Minister of India to Japan, 11 November 2016.

Transcript of Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu's Opening Remarks on Maritime Policy in the Indo-Pacific

Excellencies, Professor Kawashima, Professor Imtiaz Ahmed, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It indeed gives me great pleasure to be able to chair and moderate this discussion, on a topic of considerable relevance and interests to us here in Sri Lanka at the present day. One of the points about discussing policy internationally at the present moment, is that everything is conditioned by the fallout, as it were, and falling out that continues from the events of early November 2016.

I think, whether we liked it or not, agreed with it or not, we lived in a kind of Pax Americana world, in which the ultimate provider of stability and certainty, or to put it in the terminology of international relations, the balancer in the balance of power, was invariably the United States of America. We now, I think, face a situation in which that no longer can be taken for granted. It’s a period of uncertainty, probably the period of the greatest uncertainty since the post war – the post 1945 world – where America emerged as the hegemon, and we had, in effect, a Pax Americana.  

So, we are talking about policy, talking about strategy, and we are talking about security, where the apparent certainty is precisely the opposite; of a degree of uncertainty, of not being able to predict what exactly could happen. The hegemon has gone into, or seems like is going into, an isolationism, and if not an isolationism, a unilateralism which is equally disturbing, unnerving, and worrying. Now we have before us the question of identifying the challenges, the stresses, the strains, the opportunities and promise of a maritime policy in the Indo–Pacific.

We coin terms, sometimes fanciful, sometimes fruitful, and I think it is only fair and candid to ask as to whether, beyond a kind of geographical expression, the Indo-Pacific really holds any kind of strategic significance as far as a new balance of power is concerned.

I am aware that our Prime Minister, the Honourable Ranil Wickremesinghe, earlier on this year in a speech in New Zealand, talked about it as more of a conceptual premise than a reality, and pointed to features within the Indian Ocean region – as opposed to the Pacific Ocean – which are quite different from each other. Key amongst them, of course, was that the United States saw the Pacific Ocean as very much integral to its security, and therefore was the undisputed power in the Pacific, whereas in the Indian Ocean the situation was a lot more heterodox. You had a number of competing powers, and at the same time also, an almost axiomatic faith – certainly through the 70s – that the Indian Ocean should be a zone of peace, that it should not be dominated by a single power, and that a plurality of interests – the space should be maintained for that plurality interests to be at play. 

Now in 2016, as we all know, it is a different world, in that the importance of the Indian Ocean has increased considerably. We are talking about populations that are over two billion in this region. We are talking about two thirds of the world’s oil supplies going through these waters, we are talking about two of the world’s biggest, greatest economies in this region as well, and what we therefore have to try to achieve is to ensure that you have a space for peaceful competition rather than a site for conflict. Indeed, some people have argued that the very coining of this term, Indo-Pacific, masks an attempt on the part of certain powers to form an alliance against others. Quite simply, the Americans have been accused of coining this term as a way of trying to co-opt India, for example, in to an anti-Chinese alliance in the region.

There are others, who nevertheless point out that it is perfectly understandable that the Chinese do have interests in this region and that is also perfectly possible for these two great Asian powers to work together towards mutual benefit, as indeed the statistics now show in terms of their trading relationships. An Indian journalist, reviewing a speech made by the Indian Defence Minister at the recent Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore, makes the point that, whilst previous Prime Ministers – and he refers to a former Indian Prime Minister as well, Manmohan Singh – he says that while they dipped their toes in this Indo- Pacific idea, Prime Minister Modi and India are now set to sail within these waters.

So it is a world that is changing; and therefore, the key guideline that we require, I think, is to put away the old ideas and paradigms which have determined security policy in particular in this region, in very strong balance of power terms, and to recognize that, into the future, into the 21st century, whilst those old animosities will not be extinguished, they certainly may not be the most decisive. Out of this uncertainty, we are making history, and perhaps we would be less frightened if we recognize that we are making history, rather than be paralyzed by the uncertainty. 


LKI hosts Round table on 'India and China in South Asia: New challenges and opportunities for the region'

The LKI was pleased to have Dr. Christian Wagner, Head of the Research Division (Asia) at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) in Berlin, present at a round table on “India and China in South Asia: New challenges and opportunities for the region.”

Dr. Wagner shared his views on the relative roles of India and China in South Asia and shed light on the political, economic and security aspects of these countries’ engagement with other countries in the region. His presentation covered transitions in India’s foreign policy, including the Gujral Doctrine, the Manmohan Doctrine, and the current Modi Doctrine. He compared and contrasted this evolution to the shift in China’s foreign policy focus to trade-related relations, especially through its One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative. To view the Powerpoint of Dr. Wagner's presentation, click here. 

The round table was attended by representatives from think tanks, civic organisations , the Foreign Ministry, diplomatic corps, and the private sector. The presentation was followed by an engaging discussion on topics including ‘soft’ security and soft power, the relative military and economic contributions that China and India have provided Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka’s regional position in South Asia and the Indian Ocean rim, and emerging cooperation between India and China.

Many thanks to the German Embassy in Sri Lanka for their support in facilitating this round table at the LKI.

Six Perspectives that Explain Trump’s Views on Asia

Image Credit -  Tim Green /

Image Credit -  Tim Green /

Six Perspectives that Explain Trump’s Views on Asia

Anishka De Zylva and Barana Waidyatilake*

This article is for those trying to understand how Donald Trump’s presidency will affect economics, security and governance in Asia, and how Asian governments should prepare themselves for the change in American leadership. We were informed by an enlightening piece on the wider impact of Donald Trump’s win, and wanted to provide a similar but more focused review of recent commentary on Trump’s possible foreign policy in Asia.

We selected ‘six of the best’ from the vast number of comments that have recently been published on this topic. Our review highlights how Trump’s foreign policy will affect Asia as a whole, its major regional actors (China, India and Japan), and smaller regions of interest such as the Korean peninsula and Southeast Asia.

DONALD TRUMP'S PEACE THROUGH STRENGTH VISION FOR THE ASIA-PACIFIC by Alexander Gray and Peter Navarro (Policy Advisors to the Trump Campaign)

Written by Donald Trump’s own campaign advisers, this article offers a rare insider perspective on Trump’s possible policy on Asia.

The authors are sharply critical of the Obama administration’s ‘rebalance’ to Asia, which they portray as militarily weak and thereby a cause of more aggression and instability in the region. They claim that the Trump administration will follow a two-pronged approach in Asia. The first is to avoid “bad trade deals” that “sacrifice the US economy” and its manufacturing base, including the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that was repeatedly denounced by the Trump campaign. 

The second prong of Trump’s policy in Asia, dubbed a Reaganesque strategy of “peace through strength”, is to rebuild America’s military might. This plan would include repealing the defence sequestration and rebuilding the US Navy to a fleet of 350 ships. Gray and Navarro claim that these steps will reassure US allies in Asia, by securing the $5 trillion of annual trade across the South China Sea and containing a rising China. They unhesitatingly blame the Obama administration’s “shrinking small stick” for what they view as China’s increasing militarisation in the region, and its forging of closer ties with previous key allies like the Philippines and Thailand.

Gray and Navarro thereby suggest that the Trump administration would not favour strategic withdrawal from Asia, and may even look to increase US naval presence in the region. However, they also emphasise that US allies in Asia would be expected to contribute more towards supporting this US presence. Just how the President-elect would convince allies such as Japan and South Korea to bear more costs, however, is not addressed. 

WHAT WILL DONALD TRUMP'S ASIA POLICY LOOK LIKE? by Prashanth Parameswaran (Associate Editor, The Diplomat)

In his comprehensive overview of Donald Trump’s prospective Asia policy, Prashanth Parameswaran covers four major themes: alliances, multilateralism, economic engagement, and human rights. His key argument is that, despite Trump’s isolationist rhetoric, a closer look at his policy speeches and advisors reveals a more pragmatic streak.

On alliances, Parameswaran argues that Trump’s advisors have actually signalled a commitment to strengthen existing alliances, provided that NATO and Asian allies step up to make greater contributions. Multilateralism might also be embraced insofar as it allows the Trump administration to tackle high-priority security issues like countering terrorism. The major argument regarding economic engagement is that Trump would seek out what he perceives as ‘better deals’ for the US, with bilateral deals preferred to multilateral ones. Parameswaran does not dismiss the possibility that Trump will raise tariffs with China, but casts doubt that he will engage in an “all-out trade war.” On human rights, he cites Trump’s skepticism of universal values and suggests that the President-elect would invest less time in promoting long-held US ideals and correspondingly, more time in cooperating with authoritarian states like Russia, both for realist ends and due to his apparent personal affinities.

The author emphasises that much will depend on factors that are still unknown, including the appointed team of advisors (though at least one of whom Parameswaran refers to, Michael Flynn, has already been tapped), the new President’s willingness to listen to those advisors, and the opposition that he is likely to face from domestic and international actors. The article ends with a reminder that the last US President who attempted a radical departure from mainstream foreign policy, Jimmy Carter, was forced to reverse direction due to stiff opposition. It is suggested that this might be the case for Trump too.

AN EPOCHAL CHANGE: WHAT A TRUMP PRESIDENCY MEANS FOR THE ASIA PACIFIC REGION by Tom Phillips. Justin McCurry, Oliver Holmes, and Vidhi Doshi (Correspondents and freelance journalists for The Guardian)

In this article, the authors provide a country-by-country analysis of Donald Trump’s possible foreign policy in Asia. Their overall prognosis for Asia under a Trump administration is somewhat mixed.

On China, the article points out that Trump’s rejection of the TPP is an opportunity to expand China’s regional influence. Given Trump’s business background, Beijing may also view him as someone they can negotiate with on some issues. The authors present a worst-case scenario of US withdrawal for Japan and South Korea, prompting both countries to develop nuclear deterrents and spark an arms race in the Asia-Pacific. As a counterpoint, however, they cite the view of Mark Lippert, the American ambassador to South Korea, who expresses confidence that the US - South Korea alliance will remain unchanged. The first meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President-elect Trump, which took place after the publication of this article by Phillips et al, may be an indication that the US - Japan security alliance will remain similarly intact.   

On the ASEAN region, the authors argue that Trump’s lack of a clear policy has led Southeast Asian countries to question the US’ commitment to be an effective counterweight to Beijing, with whom several have disputes in the South China Sea. The authors point out that less focus on the South China Sea under a Trump presidency will bolster the more pro-Beijing directions that several ASEAN states have recently taken. India, however, stands to gain in the long-term due to possible ideological convergence with the Trump administration over the issue of radical Islam.

TRUMP'S TO-DO LIST IN ASIA by William Pesek (Barron’s Asia)

For the purposes of this article, author William Pesek assumes the role of foreign policy advisor to President-elect Trump, and illustrates how he could change his negative rhetoric on Asia into opportunities for the US. Pesek’s article covers China, the TPP, Japan, Southeast Asia, and the region in general, and offers policy recommendations for each. He uses catchphrases to describe these recommendations, which are collectively described as Trump’s “to-do list”. Hence the author suggests: (1) hitting the restart button with China; (2) rethinking the TPP; (3) showing “tough love” to Japan; (4) engaging Southeast Asia; (5) and hanging up an “open-for-business” sign in Asia. This article offers several fresh and specific ideas on Trump and Asia, though other commentators may question the feasibility of one or more of these ideas.

For example, in relation to the TPP, Pesek advocates including China and India in the TPP, instead of terminating the proposed deal. This would be a way for the US to counter the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which involves China and India. On Japan, Pesek suggests that Trump should change his rhetoric from one that emphasises paying for protection, to one that urges Japan to implement pro-growth reforms. Lastly, Pesek suggests presenting the US as a country that is “open-for-business” in Asia, to diffuse the negative rhetoric that was repeated by Trump throughout the election campaign, and to maintain US access to growing Asian markets.

The author concludes by recognising that some of his suggestions could be dismissed as ‘wishful thinking.’ He reiterates, however, that the US cannot afford to antagonise the several billion inhabitants of a region that is rapidly changing and growing.

HOW SHOULD NEW DELHI READ THE DONALD IN WHITE HOUSE by C. Raja Mohan (Director, Carnegie India, New Delhi)

This article focuses on the economic and geopolitical ramifications of a Trump administration for India and correspondingly, how Indian policymakers should prepare for a Trump presidency. In the author’s view, the “historic structural shift in the internal and external orientation of US” promised by the President-elect will require nothing less than a “sweeping re-imagination of India’s national strategy.”

The author explains that Trump’s electoral success can be attributed to his successful mobilisation of three sources of popular discontent, all of which were largely ignored by the American political establishment: (1) growing economic inequalities; (2) globalisation, including US policies on trade and immigration; and, (3) international obligations and burdens of the US, especially with regard to security. Raja Mohan emphasises that, in tackling these issues, Trump has “laid out a different direction for America” and even a little movement along this path will have significant economic and political consequences for other nations.

In this context, Raja Mohan highlights new geopolitical opportunities for India under the new US President, albeit while recognising the looming economic challenges. He advises India to move away from “accusations of protectionism against the US” and rethink a mutually beneficial partnership that has sustainable base of support in both countries. Trump’ s reconsideration of the US’ security presence and burdens in the region presents India with an opportunity to become a “leading element in the regional balance of power system” and construct a strong Eurasian coalition”. The author stops short of addressing the question of how China and India's immediate neighbours might respond to these possible steps.


Coral Davenport examines the extent to which the administration of incoming US President Donald Trump could disrupt progress made in combating climate change, both nationally and internationally. Davenport’s perspective is also particularly pertinent to an Asian audience as she addresses the implications of Trump’s rhetoric and possible policies on Asia, and especially on China and India.

The author explains that although President-elect Trump cannot block other countries from fulfilling their commitments to the Paris Agreement, he can choose not to implement commitments made by the US, which would be consistent with his campaign promises to ‘cancel’ the agreement. She observes that US withdrawal from the Paris accord may have an unfortunate domino effect, encouraging others - including India - to follow suit. India has stated that its contributions to the Paris Agreement will depend on financial support from developed countries, a prospect that Davenport notes looks much bleaker with the ascent of Trump.

As a contrast to India, however, China - the world’s largest greenhouse gas polluter - may now emerge as a global leader on tackling climate change. For example, Davenport states that China will continue to implement its plans to cut carbon emissions, irrespective of what Mr. Trump does. She cites the view of Chai Qimin, a Chinese climate negotiator, that “tackling climate change is not something anybody asks [China] to do” but rather, what it wants to do.

*Research Associate and Research Fellow at the LKI.

The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the authors. They are not the institutional views of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute, and do not necessarily represent or reflect the position of any other institution or individual with which the authors are affiliated.

LKI releases Explainer on 'The Future of Sri Lanka's Apparel Export Industry'

Image Credit - paulprescott / depositphotos

Image Credit - paulprescott / depositphotos

LKI Explainers, launched this year, examine an aspect of Sri Lanka's international relations. They summarise key issues and new developments on these aspects, with up-to-date information, facts and figures.

This LKI Explainer, available here, is on "The Future of Sri Lanka’s Apparel Export Industry: Brexit, the U.S. election and other key developments." It examines the implications of recent international and local developments - including the 2017 budget proposals - on Sri Lanka's most significant export industry

LKI hosts Round table on Women, Peacebuilding and Resolution 1325

The LKI was honoured to have Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer, Canadian Senator for the province of British Columbia, speak at a round table on ‘Women, Peacebuilding and Resolution 1325.’

The discussion was chaired by Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy, former UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, and the lead author of the Global Study on UNSC Resolution 1325.

Senator Jaffer emphasised that greater female representation in peace processes is essential to ensuring sustainable peace, and shared her experiences  – both sobering and encouraging –  as Canada’s Special Envoy for Peace in Sudan. Dr. Coomaraswamy’s remarks highlighted important issues of women’s participation in peace processes, the prevention of sexual violence, and adapting Resolution 1325 to the changing dynamics of conflict.

The round table was attended by experts in the field of women’s rights, representatives of international organisations including International Alert, UNESCO and the United Nations Population Fund, and governmental bodies such as the Office of National Unity and Reconciliation and the Secretariat for Coordinating Mechanisms on Reconciliation.

The participants discussed increasing leadership roles for women, securing evidence-based data on incidences of sexual and gender-based violence, promoting information on reconciliation across the country, and addressing the needs of women who are most vulnerable and under-represented in Sri Lanka.

Many thanks to the High Commission of Canada in Sri Lanka for their assistance in facilitating this enlightening discussion.

Spotlight on UN Peacekeeping with Dr. Philip Cunliffe

The LKI has launched its Spotlight Series, featuring audio or written interviews with experts from around the world on aspects of contemporary international relations.

The inaugural instalment of the Spotlight Series features an interview with Dr. Philip Cunliffe conducted by Dr. Dinusha Panditaratne, Executive Director of the LKI, on the topic of United Nations Peacekeeping. The LKI hosted Dr. Cunliffe on 7 September 2016, to hear his insights on UN peacekeeping and especially, the contribution of developing countries to peacekeeping operations.

Dr. Cunliffe is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Kent. He joined the School of Politics and International Relations at Kent in 2009, after completing his doctorate in War Studies at King's College London. His research examined developing countries' personnel contribution to UN peacekeeping operations across 1997-2007. His third book, Legions of Peace: UN Peacekeepers from the Global South, which is based on his doctoral research, was published in 2013.

Previously, Dr. Cunliffe taught in the Defence Studies and War Studies departments of King's College London. Prior to his doctoral study, he completed his Master's in International Politics at Aberystwyth and read Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Somerville College, Oxford. In 2008 Philip was appointed to provide reports on Western Balkan politics for the Economist Intelligence Unit. He contributes regularly to the international media and has broadcast on local radio stations as well as BBC Radio 4, Al Jazeera, Russia Today and Press TV.

Listen to the the full interview with Dr. Cunliffe here.

Please see below for a lightly edited transcript of the podcast.

Dr. Panditaratne: We are fortunate to have with us today, Dr. Philip Cunliffe, Senior Lecturer in International Conflict at the University of Kent. Dr. Cunliffe, I understand that your doctoral research examined the contribution of developing countries to UN peacekeeping operations from 1997 to 2007.

Could I begin by asking you two related questions: first, could you briefly explain some of the major findings of your study; and secondly, could you offer your views as to whether more recent developments in peacekeeping have reinforced or, alternatively, have challenged your findings?

Dr. Cunliffe: First of all let me say, thank you very much for having me. In answer to your question, the major findings of the study were that UN peacekeeping provided a way for developed countries or western states to offload the burden of international security in many conflicts around the world onto developing countries. They could rely upon developing countries’ troops and security personnel to provide the manpower, and to take on the military and political risks of engaging in conflict zones which western states were unwilling to deploy to.

So this was the basic finding of the study, and relatedly, that this pattern of offloading security risks, and offloading the military and manpower burdens of international security through UN peacekeeping, fitted into a longer history of imperial security in which central states, wealthy, powerful states, would find ways of reducing the financial, military, and political costs of maintaining international security through relying on forces locally recruited in the periphery. And that this pattern reproduced itself: even to the extent of, if you look at, say, a lot of the major contributors to UN peacekeeping are in fact the descendants of imperial colonial armies used by the British, in particular, but also in the French empire. So, that was the major finding in the study.

And so far as whether subsequent developments have reinforced or challenged those findings; that is the second part of your question.To some extent the pattern is changing, as you have economic growth. The structure of incentives and motivations for participating for peacekeeper contributing countries is changing, as certain contributing countries shift from being highly indebted poor countries or low income countries to being middle income or lower middle income countries. So, that’s an important development. You also have countries that don’t have any history of imperial policing or imperial warfare, having become significant peacekeeping states in this spirit as well. One example would be Brazil. Another example would be China, which has become an increasingly important peacekeeper.

Dr. Panditaratne: Thank you for that comprehensive answer. You’ve gone ahead and answered the next question, which is to explain the reasons behind this growing disparity between developed and developing countries, in terms of the sheer numbers of personnel they contribute to UN peacekeeping operations. I understand that it has been noted by the UN General Assembly, by the 4th committee, as a pattern that has emerged; and that presently five developing countries – Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Pakistan and Rwanda – contribute as many as a third of UN peacekeeping personnel.

You've touched on many of the historical and current reasons for that divergence in terms of numbers of peacekeepers. Perhaps we could  look at the other side of the coin, and consider the fact that the financial burden of these peacekeeping operations is still borne largely by developed countries, and that kind of norms in institutional structures of peacekeeping operations still appear to be shaped by developed countries. Does this divide have any effect on developing countries’ perceptions of the UN peacekeeping system? Does it affect the efficiency of peacekeeping operations? Or does it not matter who funds peacekeeping and who sets the rules and procedures?

Dr. Cunliffe: The disparity is still there, and it still is a source of contention in internal UN debates and in relations between developed and developing countries, when it comes to international security. Sometimes it’s even referred to in very stark terms as a blood-money trade off, whereby developing countries provide the blood, while rich and developed countries provide the money.

When developing countries provide peacekeepers, the number of casualties that they sustain over the long run, and the number of years for which they’re deployed in conflict zones, on average tends to exceed the Western presence in conflict zones; in places such as Sierra Leone – or others sites in which for example, Mali, where you have, say a very quick, short, sharp French operation (separate from a UN peacekeeping operation). But the UN peacekeeping operation is deployed for longer term processes of post-conflict reconstruction, pacification.

The divergence goes right from the field up into the institutional structures of the UN. And it’s still a source of contention between developing countries and developed countries, within the UN system, and there have been attempts to try and bridge over the gap, and to manage it more effectively. But simply, it’s a reflection of deeper inequalities within the international system. And there is no way in which the institutional arrangements could not reflect these underlying structural divisions which exist outside the UN system, and the UN system simply reproduces them.

So, to some extent it’s simply systematic; a systematic problem which can be managed and reduced, but it can’t be overcome without broader changes in the international system itself. I think it probably does affect the outcome of peacekeeping operations in terms of the structure of peacekeeping in the field, and also I think it affects the way in which peacekeeping is conducted, because you have different incentives confronted by different groups of countries; the countries that decide where peacekeepers go, that decide on the size of missions, that decide on the mandate for a mission. These aren’t the countries that actually have to confront deployment to the field, because those costs and issues are confronted by developing countries who send personnel.

The problems of this gap go right to the core of the function of UN peacekeeping. The people who decide where peacekeepers go have an incentive to extend the mandate to be over-ambitious, and craft mandates to amplify the concern and scope and scale of what a peacekeeping operation can do, because they don’t have to bear the risks and the costs. While the countries that do have to bear the operational costs – in terms of personnel at least – don’t get to decide on the shape and strategic aims and functions of the UN operation. So, for those reasons, this gap between developed and developing countries does impact the conduct and outcome of peacekeeping operations in the field.

Dr. Panditaratne: You quite aptly described the various trade offs and different incentives involved, and the extent of that divide. This is something that is relevant for Sri Lanka; as Sri Lanka’s military has just been invited to participate in the UN peacekeeping operations in Mali. It so happens to be at a time when some within the UN system are also calling for investigations into the kind of conduct of the Sri Lankan military, during the final phase of Sri Lanka’s civil war. Do you think that despite the kind of problems and issues that you discussed that relate to this developing-developed divide, that serving in UN peacekeeping missions offers an opportunity for a country’s military to grow its global reputation? Or put differently, could it be said that contributing to UN peacekeeping is a form of soft power that a country could gain?

Dr. Cunliffe: I think it certainly does help to enhance UN peacekeeping­; participation in peacekeeping operations can be used to burnish a country’s image internationally, perhaps not in terms of the international public opinion, or in terms of the country’s own domestic public opinion, but in terms of the international connections – what you could call ‘corridor diplomacy’ –  in terms of the softer, more intangible connections that occur in international institutions, the networking between different organs and agencies of the UN system. Those kinds of connections that are facilitated by participating in UN peacekeeping operations matter a great deal, I think, for a country’s international reputation, and also for the self-image of countries, at least as to how they think about, and how they relate to the rest of the world.

The opportunities that participating in peacekeeping provides for countries to perhaps brief the Security Council, engage with the UN Peacebuilding Commission, engage with senior figures in the UN system, within UN departments, all of this I think, matters a great deal in terms of enhancing a country’s reputation on the international stage. So I think UN peacekeeping does offer that opportunity. Obviously, it also offers risks, and so far as in this conduct, or excesses and atrocities that might be committed by peacekeepers on the ground might backfire on a country, and this has happened with a number of cases, including with the controversies raised over Sri Lanka’s participation in the Haiti operation, so, it carries both risks and potential opportunities for any country.

I think it can be described as a form of soft power, bearing in mind, that said, that the mandates that are given to peacekeepers increasingly expect hard power from peacekeepers. Peacekeeping operations are increasingly militarised, peacekeepers are routinely now given power to use force beyond self-defense. Peacekeeping operations have developed intelligence cells relying, say, on, drones to gather local intelligence at a tactical level, at least. But they also tend to be more heavily armed and given mandates to enhance security, and Mali is one example where there is tremendous security expectations of the peacekeeping operation.

So UN peacekeeping increasingly involves hard power, even though it can enhance a country’s soft power – there’s a paradox involved.

Dr. Panditaratne: So it’s a combination, in effect?

Dr. Cunliffe: Yes.

Dr. Panditaratne: Right. Just to touch on something that you raised earlier: one of the most frequent criticisms of peacekeeping operations is that their mandates are repeatedly, and sometimes unnecessarily, extended. You pointed out the different incentives that are involved in these decisions, and how that also relates to the gap between developed and developing countries.

When these mandates are extended, it of course inflates the cost, the complexity, and as you pointed out, potentially, the lives involved in these operations. How is the UN addressing this issue of extended deployment, if at all, and is there any way you know communities could better or best address this concern?

Dr. Cunliffe: There are various initiatives the UN has made. It has tried to involve a greater range of countries that are involved in peacekeeping through bodies such as the UN Peacebuilding Commission. The UN Security Council has tried to consult more regularly with developing countries, with the so-called ‘TCCs’ or ‘PCCs’, the ‘Truth Contributing Countries’, or the ‘Police Contributing Countries’. They try to consult with them more regularly in the process of crafting, designing the UN operation.

But with these initiatives, at the end of the day, there is a limit to how much can be done. If you look at, say, the election of non-permanent members of the UN Security Council, it doesn’t particularly reflect who are the greatest contributors to UN peacekeeping. If you look at the financial contribution to UN peacekeeping, it’s overwhelmingly wealthy Western states – Japan, Germany, the US, France, the UK – though China is increasingly contributing also to UN peacekeeping funds.

So there are efforts to, close the gap but, at the end of the day the institutional forms of the UN reflect underlying power structures in the international system and there’s a limit to how much you can expect the UN to change those institutional structures without broader changes in the international system itself. And those changes will come, over time, but they would require serious institutional restructuring at the UN to better match the configuration of the changing pattern of the international system.

Dr. Panditaratne: So are you saying that the potential for reform is in fact embedded in the larger reforms that are required in the UN system?

Dr. Cunliffe: Yes, I think so, and also changes to the international system, the international order, more broadly.

Dr. Panditaratne: We’ve spoken mostly so far about the more traditional UN peacekeeping operations. You referred to earlier to other types of peacekeeping operations. For example in Mali, France’s Operation Serval, and there is currently also an African Union mission in Somalia. These peacekeeping operations are more bilaterally or multilaterally arranged with the consent of the UN.

In your view, do these operations complement the UN’s work, or do they sometimes hinder or compete with it? Do they have the potential for perhaps overcoming the need for UN peacekeeping operations or for extending peacekeeping operations, or perhaps in some other way affecting the future of UN peacekeeping operations?

Dr. Cunliffe: They’re very much part of the overall division of labour in peacekeeping, and even though a lot of the kinds of operations that you mentioned might not fall under the authority of the UN department of peacekeeping operations in New York, they are still very much intertwined with UN peacekeeping.

If we take the example of France’s military operation in Mali, it’s only possible because France can depend upon – through its influences as a permanent member of the UN Security Council – the UN to provide the missions or the personnel which is necessary to make up for, and deploy long-term in Mali, in the aftermath of the French military operation there. If France had to conduct its Operation Serval in Mali, as well as deploy security forces to northern Mali, as well as engage in post-conflict reconstruction and the kinds of tasks that UN peacekeepers, blue-helmets, are doing in Mali, it would simply be an impossible task for France to do.

So I think it’s an illusion to think of these operations as distinct from UN peacekeeping. Often they’re conducted - even if they don’t fall under UN command structures - they’re designed with UN peacekeeping as the fallback, and the support, in effect, for the military operation. The AMISOM Operation in Somalia is entirely dependent on UN logistical support. Even though it’s not a blue-helmet operation, it has UN political support, but also very significantly, it wouldn’t be possible without the logistical support provided by the UN.

These missions shouldn’t be seen as competitive with UN peacekeeping. They’re very much part of the international security system, and it’s the opposite way around, in the sense that they’re the ones that are dependent on UN peacekeeping, as I mentioned with respect to the French operation with Mali. If it wasn’t for UN peacekeepers providing the forces going into Mali, including shortly Sri Lankan forces, the French operation wouldn’t be possible, politically or militarily.

Dr. Panditaratne: So, in fact, UN resources are integral to their success?

Dr. Cunliffe: Absolutely.

Dr. Panditaratne: You’ve covered many different aspects of UN peacekeeping and explained very well the magnitude, the scale of the various operations, and also the institutional issues that are inbuilt in them. Thank you for these really insightful and informative responses. The UN was formed of a need to ‘save future generations from the scourge of war’ and nowhere has that commitment been displayed more openly than in peacekeeping operations. So it’s something that’s in a way critical to the positive profile of the UN. We’re  grateful to have you explain and analyse these issues for us.

Dr. Cunliffe: Thank you so much.

LKI representatives at Regional Conferences

In September 2016, the Research Director, Research Fellow, and Executive Director of the LKI spoke at regional conferences in Tokyo, Beijing and Colombo, respectively.

Research Director, Mr. Ravindra Deyshappriya, presented a research paper on the Impact of Macroeconomic Factors on Income Inequality and Income Distribution in Asian Countries, at the Conference on Structural Transformation and Inclusive Growth, conducted by the Asian Development Bank Institute, Tokyo-Japan on 20th-21st of September. Mr. Deyshappriya emphasized the significance of access to education and employment opportunities, steady economic growth, price and political stability of economies in order to achieve more equal income distribution.

Research Fellow, Barana Waidyatilake, presented a paper on 'How One Belt One Road (OBOR) can strengthen the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)' at the SCO Think Tank Symposium, held on 26-27 September in Beijing. Mr. Waidyatilake pointed out that China's OBOR initiative provided an economic development programme around which the SCO could develop stronger security cooperation, particularly due to OBOR's ability to economically integrate the SCO's 'old' Central Asian members with its 'new' South Asian ones. 

The Executive Director, Dr. Dinusha Panditaratne, spoke on the acquisition of world class talent and innovative ideas, at the LBR LBO Infrastructure Summit 2016 in Colombo on 21st September. Dr. Panditaratne highlighted immediate and long-term strategies to attract talent and promote entrepreneurship - especially via immigration, legal and educational reforms.

The Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute is hiring!

The Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKI) engages in independent research of Sri Lanka’s international relations and strategic interests, to provide insights and recommendations that advance justice, peace, prosperity and sustainability.  The Chairman of the Institute is the Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The LKI is at an exciting time of growth. It seeks high-achieving candidates who meet the criteria for the following positions.

1.     Deputy Director

The LKI has an exceptional leadership opportunity for a Deputy Director. The Deputy Director will direct the financial and administrative functions of the LKI, including: fiscal management; revenue enhancement; human resources leadership; grant reporting; client and member relations; and infrastructure development.

The ideal candidate will value the LKI’s mission, be able to think strategically, and have a passion for improving quality and performance. Applicants should be graduates (preferably with a postgraduate qualification in management) and have at least 4 years’ managerial experience with a proven track record. Experience in a research-based organisation is preferred. Excellent communication skills in English are essential, and fluency in Sinhala or Tamil is an advantage.  An attractive salary will be offered to the selected candidate.

2.     Communications Manager

The LKI seeks a skilled and enterprising professional to manage its communications needs and develop its communications platforms.  The Communications Manager will engage with a variety of audiences and stakeholders (including the press, social media followers, government officials, diplomats, partner organisations, and donors) to support and publicize the LKI’s work. He or she will also assist with editing the LKI’s publications prior to release.

Candidates should be degree-holders (postgraduate preferred) with at least 2 years’ experience in a communications-related role. The position requires outstanding English language and organisational skills – including the ability to market and distribute various research and other outputs, both locally and abroad. A background in international relations, and fluency in Sinhala or Tamil, is an advantage.  An attractive salary will be offered to the selected candidate.

3.     Research Associate (Global Economy)

The Institute seeks a Research Associate for its Global Economy programme. The Research Associate will work with the LKI’s current Research Director to produce excellent research and insights on Sri Lanka’s place in the international economy, and facilitate related programmes and events at the LKI.

The LKI welcomes applications from graduates in economics (first or upper second class degree, or equivalent), with superior quantitative analytical skills. They should be outstanding writers, who can articulate their position fluently in English. Research Associates should be able to multitask, meet tight deadlines, and work well within a team. A record of previous research publications will be an advantage. A competitive salary will be offered to the selected candidate.

4.     Project Coordinator (6 month position, with possibility of extension)

The LKI seeks a Project Coordinator to coordinate an upcoming programme related to Sri Lanka’s foreign policy. The Project Coordinator will work with the direction of the Research Fellow to organize the programme, including communicating with local and international participants, producing programme materials, arranging logistics, and assisting with publicity.

Candidates must have excellent communication and planning skills. He or she should be fluent in English, display a high degree of initiative and attention to detail, and be able to work with minimal supervision. Prior experience in coordinating conferences and seminars is essential. A degree or other background in international affairs is desirable. A competitive salary will be offered to the selected candidate.

5.     Librarian

The Institute seeks a Librarian to steer the development of its library, both physically and online. The Librarian will need to: complete the cataloguing of existing books and materials; create and manage a lending system; and develop the LKI’s library into a well-regarded resource for the study of international relations in a Sri Lankan context. 

The position requires at least 3 years’ experience as a librarian, good IT skills, and fluency in English. Candidates should have a qualification in library sciences and be familiar with current library-related products and trends. This role calls for a self-motivated individual who would enjoy the challenge of growing a small library into a valuable centre of learning. Applications are welcome from current and retired librarians who meet the above criteria. A competitive salary will be offered to the selected candidate.


Applications should be sent on or before 3 October 2016, by email to or by post to the address below.

Applicants should include a one-page cover letter that explains their suitability for the position, and a CV (max. 3 pages) with names and contact numbers of two non-related referees. Applications for the position of Research Associate should also include a writing sample in English (max. 15 pages).

Executive Director
Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute
24 Horton Place
Colombo 7

H.E. Ban Ki-moon speaks on "Sustaining Peace and Achieving Sustainable Development Goals"

UN Secretary-General, H.E. Ban Ki-moon, delivers speech on "Sustaining Peace and Achieving Sustainable Development Goals". Image credit - Ministry of Foreign Affairs

UN Secretary-General, H.E. Ban Ki-moon, delivers speech on "Sustaining Peace and Achieving Sustainable Development Goals". Image credit - Ministry of Foreign Affairs

On 2 September, UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, delivered a speech in Colombo at the invitation of the Chairman of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute, the Hon. Mangala Samaraweera. The speech discussed the links between peace and sustainable development. Secretary-General Ban discussed the challenges facing the United Nations, and highlighted the key successes during his leadership. These included the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Paris Agreement and the implementation of Agenda 2030 - an inclusive global agenda that aims to end poverty while sustaining ecosystems and resources.  

The Secretary-General's speech highlighted Sustainable Development Goal 16, on promoting peace, justice and strong institutions. Goal 16 demands action against corruption and crime, while holding governments accountable, and supporting inclusivity, equality and human rights. He emphasised the importance of the role of women, and encouraged their fuller involvement in parliament, the cabinet, and reconciliation and sustainable development initiatives.

Secretary-General Ban congratulated Sri Lanka’s significant progress, with particular reference to the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 2015, and the recently passed Right to Information Act. He further commended Sri Lanka’s transitional justice and constitutional reform efforts, before concluding with the reassurance of the United Nations’ support in Sri Lanka’s future development.

The event began with an opening address delivered by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, and Secretary-General Ban’s speech was complemented by a panel of speakers. The panel consisted of the Secretary General of the Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms, Mr. Mano Tittawella, a Director of Aitken Spence, Dr. Rohan Fernando, and the Executive Director of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute, Dr. Dinusha Panditaratne.

Please find the full text of Hon. Mangala Samaraweera's introductory address and H.E. Ban Ki-moon's speech here

The LKI would like to thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the UN in Sri Lanka for all their assistance with this event.

Article on Sri Lanka - Australia Relations by LKI Research Fellow, Barana Waidyatilake, featured in The Diplomat

Image Credit - depositphotos

Image Credit - depositphotos

A recent article by Barana Waidyatilake, LKI Research Fellow, on 'Sri Lanka and Australia's Strategic Defence Interests' has been featured in The Diplomat magazine. 

Mr. Waidyatilake argues that Sri Lanka and Australia have great scope for increasing their strategic cooperation, especially in the context of Australia's new defence policy articulated in the Defence White Paper 2016. Such cooperation could address issues around Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing,  climate change-related crises in neighbouring countries, and the development of a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific.

LKI hosts Bangladeshi military delegation

 On 18 August, 2016, the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute (LKI) hosted a twenty-four member delegation from the National Defence College (NDC) of Bangladesh. 

The speakers presented on maritime security threats in the Indian Ocean region, Sri Lanka's post-war reconciliation efforts, and on Bangladesh's management of the insurgency in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region, following the signing of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accords. 

The discussions following the presentations focused on possible avenues for cooperating on maritime security issues, as well as on the involvement of civil society in Sri Lanka's reconciliation process.

Director- General of UNESCO, Madam Irina Bokova speaks at the LKI

Director- General of UNESCO, Madam Irina Bokova speaks at the LKI. Image credit- Ministry of Defence, Sri Lanka

Director- General of UNESCO, Madam Irina Bokova speaks at the LKI. Image credit- Ministry of Defence, Sri Lanka

On 16 August, the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute (LKI) welcomed Madam Irina Bokova, Director- General of UNESCO. 

Madam Bokova delivered an insightful speech titled 'Soft Power for Peace and Development - UNESCO and the SDG's', which was followed by a brief, yet informative question and answer session. 

The following are some highlights from Madam Bokova's lecture:

Madam Bokova stated that the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Change Agreement must be seen as a single agenda; one which emphasizes inclusivity and national ownership of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

She emphasised inclusive and equitable quality education (Sustainable Development Goal 4) as the starting point for this agenda, and elaborated on the efforts UNESCO had made to ensure access to quality education, both globally and in Sri Lanka. 

Madam Bokova also commended the Sri Lankan government for its efforts to promote the rule of law and good governance, in the context of promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development (Sustainable Development Goal 16).

For the full text of her speech please click here.

The introductory speech, delivered by our Chairman Hon. Mangala Samaraweera can be found here.

The LKI would like to thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, UNESCO and the UN in Sri Lanka for all their assistance in organising this event.

Hon. Erna Solberg delivers the Lakshman Kadirgamar Memorial Lecture 2016

Hon. Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Norway, delivers the Lakshman Kadirgamar Memorial Lecture 2016. 

Hon. Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Norway, delivers the Lakshman Kadirgamar Memorial Lecture 2016. 

We were privileged to have the Hon. Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Norway, deliver this year's Lakshman Kadirgamar Memorial Lecture on 12th August 2016.

For the full text of her speech please click here.

Our Chairman, the Hon. Mangala Samarweera, made the introductory remarks, which can be found here.

Thank you to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sri Lanka, and the Norwegian Embassy in Colombo, for assisting in the organisation and facilitation of this important event.

LKI hosts Round table on Australia-Sri Lanka Relations

The LKI hosted the Australian Institute of International Affairs Victoria for a panel discussion on Sri Lanka-Australia relations on 11 July, 2016. 

The speakers presented research on the Sri Lankan diaspora in Australia, our higher education links with Australia, and strategic relations. 

We would like to thank Dr. Wickrema Weerasooria, the Centre for Poverty Analysis, and LKI Research Fellow Barana Waidyatilake, for contributing great research and insights. We would also like to extend our gratitude to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - SRI LANKA for initiating this roundtable and Australia in Sri Lanka and Maldives for participating.

Dialogue on International Partnerships in Higher Education with Professor Pericles Lewis

Professor Pericles Lewis, President of Yale-NUS College 

Professor Pericles Lewis, President of Yale-NUS College 

Professor Pericles Lewis, President of Yale-NUS College in Singapore, was the keynote speaker at a Dialogue on International Partnerships in Higher Education on the 10th of May 2016 at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute. This dialogue was organized by the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute with the support of the Embassy of the United States of America, Sri Lanka.

The dialogue was conducted as part of a study on International Higher Education Partnerships initiated by the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute. The study and resulting recommendations will consider how international partnerships in higher education could facilitate the necessary skills and mind-sets among Sri Lanka’s university graduates, to build and secure Sri Lanka’s status as a vibrant regional hub.

President Lewis emphasized the value of a liberal arts education and noted it should be factored in when a country nurtures higher education partnerships with foreign universities. He highlighted that the hallmarks of a liberal arts education – active learning, critical thinking and a multidisciplinary curriculum – produces well informed citizens who can make effective decisions related to voting and other matters of national importance. President Lewis also cited the premium accorded to liberal arts graduates in successful technological companies like Apple, observing that it shows “attention to design, attention to people’s needs, and attention to the creative side of industry is important for innovation.”

The audience consisted of leading figures from Sri Lanka’s private and public sectors who had an opportunity to ask questions and engage in a broader discussion on international partnerships in higher education and liberal education. Alongside President Lewis sat Mr. Tissa Jayatilika who enriched the discussion with his wealth of expertise in leading the United States – Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission. The dialogue was moderated by the Executive Director of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute, Dr. Dinusha Panditaratne.

Sweden’s Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström, on Sweden's Feminist Foreign Policy

"Gender equality is not a women’s issue, it is a peace and security issue" - Minister Wallström

"Gender equality is not a women’s issue, it is a peace and security issue" - Minister Wallström

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, Margot Wallström, delivered a speech on 'Sweden’s Feminist Foreign Policy' on the 25 April 2016 at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute (LKI). Minister Wallström was invited by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, Hon. Mangala Samaraweera. The event was attended by government officials, ambassadors, scholars, activists, students, and media personnel.

During her speech she presented her ideas on sustainable peace, the link between security and development, and the role of women. She highlighted the importance of addressing the root causes of conflict and how to sustain peace, improving the means by which conflicts are prevented, building social resilience, ending conflicts in a more effective way, and having the state and organisations increase their support of peaceful societies.

Minister Wallström highlighted that a key component of achieving durable peace is a focus on gender equality. Increasing women’s role and participation in the peace process and post conflict reconciliation is vital. As a result, women must actively participate in all decision making processes, and be active in defining priorities. She highlighted that the agenda on women, peace and security is a top priority for Sweden’s government, and that she is fully committed to women’s social, political and economic empowerment.

Minister Wallström commended Sri Lanka’s recent progress on building an inclusive society and promoting sustainable peace and development following the end of the conflict.  

For a video of her full speech please click here.

Nobel Laureate Sir James Mirrlees says Sri Lanka is well positioned for Sustainable Development

Professor Sir James Mirrlees, a distinguished economist and recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize for Economics, led a Dialogue on Sustainable Development on 25th February at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute (LKI). Sir James was invited by the Chairman and Members of the Board of Management of the LKI to deliver the first of a series of Laureates’ Lectures, which has been initiated to mark the LKI's 10th anniversary year. 

Sir James presented his views on recent international developments, including the 2015 U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Agreement, before considering the local context. He was optimistic about Sri Lanka’s ability to achieve sustainable development, stating that the country enjoyed several advantages over other developing countries, such as high literacy and relatively low levels of poverty and emissions. However, he was cautious of the drive towards greater urbanization in Sri Lanka, suggesting instead that the way forward to a sustainable future lay in developing a number of smaller cities.

Following Sir James’s speech, the audience, which consisted of leading figures in the Sri Lankan corporate, public and educational sectors, had the opportunity to ask questions and engage in a broader discussion on the theme of sustainable development. The discussion emphasised Sri Lanka’s opportunities and challenges in promoting sustainable development. It was moderated by Dr. Indrajit Coomarsawamy, with contributions from Professor Sirimal Abeyratne and Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, a member of the Board of Management of the LKI. 

The Dialogue was organized by the LKI in partnership with the UN Global Compact Network Sri Lanka and John Keells Holdings PLC. The creative agency Holmes Pollard & Stott was the communications partner.

Nobel Laureate Prof. Sir James Mirrlees to lead a ‘Dialogue on Sustainable Development’ at LKI

Sir James Mirrlees.jpg

Professor Sir James Mirrlees, the internationally renowned economist and recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Economics, will lead a Dialogue on Sustainable Development at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute (LKI) on Thursday, 25th February 2016. Sir James will be visiting LKI from Thursday, 25th February to Monday, 29th February at the invitation of the Chairman and the Board of Management of the LKI.

The Dialogue on Thursday will consist of an initial lecture by Sir James, followed by a discussion with the invited audience. The leading Sri Lankan economist, Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy, will moderate the discussion. Two thought leaders in Sri Lanka, Professor Sirimal Abeyratne and Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, will join Sir James in responding to questions from the audience. 

Invitees to the Dialogue include officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, intergovernmental officials, academics, students, corporate leaders, community activists, and members of the diplomatic corps. This session has been organised by the LKI in partnership with the UN Global Compact Network Sri Lanka and John Keells Holdings PLC. The creative agency Holmes Pollard & Stott is the communications partner.

Sir James’ lecture is the first of a limited series of Laureates’ Lectures that the LKI is initiating to celebrate its 10th anniversary year. Through this series, the LKI aims to expose policy makers and policy influencers  in Sri Lanka to global insights on emerging and persisting issues in Sri Lanka's international relations.