A new background paper by International Alert, What’s diaspora got to do with it?, reflects on our experiences of engaging Sri Lanka’s diaspora communities in peacebuilding in their country of heritage, Sri Lanka, and their country of residence, the UK.
Alert has been working with Sri Lanka’s diaspora communities in this way for over four years. This paper highlights the experiences of both a peacebuilding practitioner and a diaspora partner involved in this work.
The paper seeks to share key messages with diaspora audiences, government agencies and civil society, all of whom could have a fundamental impact on diaspora and peacebuilding interventions in the future. Specifically, it highlights key recommendations in terms of what worked well and why during the programme and what did not.
Although diaspora communities are a unique actor with multiple ties to their country of heritage and residence, they are rarely homogenous by nature, representing many political opinions and experiences.
A key challenge for building the peacebuilding capacity of diaspora communities is therefore to acknowledge grievances, respect multiple opinions and harness collective capacity to address the needs of people on the ground. As part of this challenge, it is crucial to advocate for the acceptance and inclusion of all diaspora communities by Sri Lankan state and society.