The aim of this thesis is to assess international donors’ attempts to use aid to promote peace in Sri Lanka. International donors have on several occasions made it clear that they will apply peace conditionality in order to propel the peace process forward. What is clear, however, is that the strategy has not been successful: the peace process derailed already in April 2003, and the situation continued to deteriorate throughout 2003 and 2004. Today, five years after the signing of the CFA, the peace process hangs in the balance of a fragile no-war-no-peace situation.
This thesis is based on the presupposition that peace conditionality can be an important pacifying tool. On that basis, the purpose of the thesis is to assess why donors’ strategy has not had the intended effects in Sri Lanka. Why have donors not been able to buy peace? Have donors’ intentions to link aid to peace been carried out in practice? And if yes, why have the specific strategies and approaches failed?
The analysis shows that donors increased disbursements to Sri Lanka as the peace process seemed to be moving in the right direction. However, donors failed to link aid disbursements to developments in the peace process once the situation on the ground deteriorated. In other words, donors were willing to dangle the carrot, but they were never willing to apply the stick. Donors did certainly note the poor state of the peace process, but this was not reflected in actual disbursements. Sri Lanka did largely receive the aid that was promised at the donor conferences in Oslo and Tokyo, despite the failure by the parties to comply with the conditions attached to disbursements.
Unclear procedures and mechanisms reduced donors’ ability to implement peace conditionality. The vagueness of the conditions made it difficult for donors to assess to what extent the parties complied, and monitoring soon became a sensitive issue. Furthermore, the institutional set-up of donors made it difficult to respond promptly and flexibly to developments in the peace process.
Most importantly, however, the analysis shows that major donors were unwilling to prioritise peace over other foreign policy goals. It was more important for donors to preserve the good relationship with the parties, or to combat terrorism, than it was to enforce the conditions attached to disbursements. The application of the stick did not fit into the broader relationship between the donors and the conflicting parties, and donors consequently made little effort to enforce the conditions attached to disbursements. Peace conditionality in Sri Lanka was only attempted in a half hearted way.