The Politics of Transformation: The LTTE and the 2002-2006 Peace Process in Sri Lanka.

This study examines the substantial non-military activities of the LTTE since the internationally-backed Norwegian peace process began in 2002 against the wider foil of transition from war to peace. The possibilities for transforming or resolving a protracted conflict such as that in Sri Lanka cannot be discerned without understanding the evolving socio-political conditions in which armed political movements emerge, grow and function. For example, the label ‘nonstate actor’ when applied to the LTTE, which controls a clear and demarcated territory and has established a substantial governance structures in these areas, obscures significant aspects of the conflict and the organisation itself. A ‘state within a state’ (Kingston 2004) would seem a more appropriate term in this context and one we look at more closely below. More generally, a nuanced understanding of the LTTE that goes well beyond the nondescript label of ‘armed group’ or ‘non-state actor,’ and of the wider dynamics of the conflict in Sri Lanka, are essential to promoting peace there. This principle underpins this study. Such understanding, we also argue, requires a systemic approach to analysis. Piecemeal approaches – for example, focusing solely on the efficacy of electoral processes in Sri Lanka – which do not consider the historic trajectories or overarching context of Sri Lanka’s politics, or the prevailing conditions, are futile. Intractable conflicts must be studied in their entirety.