Sri Lanka's determination to cock a snook at the West and crush the LTTE with the backing of Asian countries will make Norwegian type mediation difficult in future conflict zones.
So says a Norwegian government sponsored study into why Norway failed to bring peace in Sri Lanka despite investing so much over 12 long years. The report was released here Friday.
IANS was the only media organisation from South Asia invited for the event.
"The Sri Lankan peace process reflects broader global changes," said the exhaustive 202-page report, based on confidential documents of the foreign ministry in Norway and wide-ranging interviews.
"It began as an experiment in liberal peace building and ended as a result of a very different 'Asian model' of 'conflict resolution'.
"Building on Westphalian notions of sovereignty and non-interference, a strong developmental state, the military crushing of the 'terrorism', and the prevalence of order over dissent or political change, this model may serve as an inspiration for other countries in the region.
"This global 'eastward' shift may have far-reaching consequences for the possibilities of Norwegian style mediation in the future," says the study.
Norway helped Colombo and the LTTE, which for decades fought for an independent homeland, sign a ceasefire agreement (CFA) in 2002.
The pact was the high point of a peace process that was supposed to end the dragging conflict in Sri Lanka. It was widely believed that while the LTTE would never win, they could never be defeated.
But the regime of President Rajapaksa, who took power in November 2005, proved everyone wrong by launching an all-out war against the Tigers in 2006, leading to their destruction in May 2009.
The report says that Norway alone cannot be blamed for the twists and turns of the peace process. Instead, Norwegian involvement in the island's peace efforts led to many achievements.
These included peace in Sri Lanka for months after the CFA was signed and the later commitment by both sides to work for a conflict resolution based on federal principles.
One of the reasons why the peace process failed was because both Colombo and the LTTE did not make "any significant shift" in their entrenched positions.
The peace moves were also constrained by the "structural features" of the Sri Lankan state and ethno-centric politics.
It said the 2004 split in the LTTE shifted the military balance decisively in the government's favour.
And politics associated with the war on terror "undermined the potential for LTTE transformation and increased the isolation of Norway as the sole state conduit to the organisation".
The report said that even as the Rajapaksa government embraced new allies globally in contrast to his previous government's pro-West tilt, "soft power mediator Norway was not in a position to counter or transform these dynamics".
The report said that different courses of action by Norway might have mitigated some problems. It could have placed stronger parameters on its involvement from the very beginning and could have withdrawn from the faltering peace process at an earlier stage.
For the future, the report says that Norway -- which has been engaged in many peace processes -- "should avoid situations where it is a weak and isolated mediator, with limited and inconsistent international backing".
"Norway has usually been a mediator in conflicts between a state and non-state actor, based on an approach of even-handedness and addressing issues of asymmetry.
"The Sri Lankan case highlights the difficulties of following such an approach in the context of the war on terror."
(M.R. Narayan Swamy can be contacted at email@example.com)