International Network on Contextual Politics in Developing Countries (CPD)


Invitation to public workshop on:


Comparative lessons from Aceh and Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami

The two worst-affected areas in the 2004 tsunami disaster – Sri Lanka’s northeast province and the Aceh region in Indonesia – have both been marked by protracted armed conflicts. While being a large-scale humanitarian disaster, the tsunami also yielded opportunities for peace and democratisation, as the scale and urgency of humanitarian needs demanded joint efforts for relief/reconstruction, conflict resolution and democratisation.

After the tsunami there have been parallel processes in Aceh and Sri Lanka linking reconstruction and conflict resolution, with active support from international actors. Beyond this general similarity, the actual strategies and preconditions for conflict resolution have been quite different in the two cases. These strategies and contextual conditions have important implications for the prospects and dynamics of conflict resolution as well as broader transformations towards democratisation. Thus, the workshop will examine and compare the lessons from Aceh and Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami, and especially ask the following questions:

(1) What are the real opportunities and obstacles for conflict resolution in the context of post-tsunami reconstruction and development?

(2) What are the prospects and dynamics of human rights based democratisation in the context of these initiatives for reconstruction/development and conflict resolution in Aceh and Sri Lanka?

(3) What are the transformations of state and non-state stakeholders in the conflict resolution processes?

Invited contributors

Dr. Edward Aspinall, Research Fellow, Australian National University. Dr. Aspinall has researched issues of democratisation, opposition movements and civil society with emphasis on the Aceh conflict.

Mr. Aguswandi, Aceh Civil Society Institute (ACSI). Mr. Aguswandi is an Acehnese human rights activist focusing on the democratic and human rights aspects of the peace process.

Professor Kristian Stokke, Department of Sociology and Human Geography, University of Oslo. Professor Stokke has researched the dynamics of the conflict and the links between development and conflict resolution in Sri Lanka.

Professor Olle Törnquist, Department of Political Science, University of Oslo. Professor Törnquist has researched radical politics and questions of democratisation in Indonesia.

NB: This comparative workshop is preceded by a seminar on the prospects for sustainable peace in Aceh, held at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights on Thursday 20. October, 12.30-16.00. Further information: