INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR ETHNIC STUDIES SRI LANKA
Promoting Rights and Justice, Diversity and Coexistence, and Robust Institutions for Democracy
Coexistence and Religious Harmony
Promoting pluralism and building resilience among communities to resist the impact of extremism
Justice, Memory and Reconciliation
Advocating an inclusive and holistic transitional justice process, pluralistic memories and meaningful reconciliation in Sri Lanka
Diversity and Social Inclusion
Sensitizing society and policy makers on the needs of marginalized persons
Research on human rights and inequalities
Rights and Institutional Reform
Since 1982, the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES) has contributed to the world of ideas and has informed policy and practice through research, dialogue, the creative arts and other interventions.
The ICES vision is contained in a desire for a world that celebrates diversity in all its multiple shades. The institutions goal is to contribute towards relevant rigorous intellectual traditions that recognize our common humanity, promote diverse identities, and generate ideas that inform and guide policies and institutions in order to promote justice, equity and peaceful coexistence. The unique mission of ICES is to deepen the understanding of ethnicity, identity politics, conflict and gender, and to foster conditions for an inclusive, just and peaceful society, nationally, regionally and globally, through research, publication, dialogue, creative expression and knowledge transfer.
The ICES has been an important player in the areas of reconciliation, justice, gender and human rights and has been particularly influential in shaping policy and public imagination on issues of gender equality, ethnic diversity, religious coexistence, and constitutional reform in Sri Lanka. The institution has contributed to the development and promotion of minority and group rights and has previously worked closely with the United Nations Special Rapporteurs, the several Working Groups and with the Treaty Bodies. In the past, ICES maintained a special category consultative status with the United Nations ECOSOC and served as the Secretariat to former UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women and former Director of ICES, Radhika Coomaraswamy.
In recent years ICES has carved a niche for itself as a centre for the study and promotion of diversity within a framework of democracy and human rights.
ICES has played three broad roles: one of research, the other of policy advocacy and a third of providing space for dialogue. It has also used the creative arts to ignite the public imagination and promote truth, beauty, diversity and reconciliation. Following extensive academic, legal and political involvement in the constitutional process and policy formulation in Sri Lanka through the 1980s and 1990s, and strong advocacy in the areas of gender, human and rights, and social inclusion, ICES has established a strong reputation for its capacity to generate high quality research that is politically relevant nationally, regionally and globally.
In recent years, it has generated important research on ethno-religious violence and coexistence, gender equality, womens economic empowerment, social inclusion, and forced displacement. It has also provided a space for and encouraged creative expression as a vehicle for political and social change, through its support to documentary film making, socially relevant theatre, seminars for writers, and regular film and art festivals.
A world which celebrates diversity anchored in the fundamental unity of the human species.
To contribute towards relevant rigorous intellectual traditions that recognise our common humanity and promote our diverse identities, and to generate ideas that inform and guide policies and institutions in order to promote justice, equity and peaceful coexistence.
To deepen the understanding of ethnicity, identity politics and conflict, and to foster conditions for an inclusive, just and peaceful society nationally, regionally and globally, through research, publication, dialogue, creative expression and knowledge transfer.
Board of Directors
Radhika Coomaraswamy received her BA from Yale University, LLM from Harvard University and the Doctorate in Jurisprudence from Columbia University. Current member of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, she served as UN Under Secretary General and as Special Representative of Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict from 2006 until 2012. Earlier, from 1994 to 2003, she was UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women,. In Sri Lanka, Dr. Coomaraswamy was Chairperson of Human Rights Commission from 2003 to 2006 and was a Director of the International Centre for Ethnic Studies from 1984 to 2006. She was, until September 2018, a civil society member of the Constitutional Council. Dr. Coomaraswamy is a Global Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law.
Hasini Haputhanthri is a development professional and arts manager in Sri Lanka.She’s involved in a global network of researchers and practitioners on historical dialogue and reconciliation. Initially trained as a sociologist at Delhi University India and Lund University Sweden, she recently specialized in Oral History and Museum Anthropology at Columbia University New York.
Finishing her 10 year stint with Deutsche Gesellschaft fr Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Hasini now works as an independent consultant and researcher. Among her current assignments are Archive of Memory: reflections on 70 years of independence in Sri Lanka – an oral history project, and a baseline survey of 25 museums, with its publication forthcoming as Museums, Memory and Identity Politics in Sri Lanka.
Nireka Weeratungeleads the qualitative component of the research projects on Social-ecological Dynamics in Rapid Economic Development: Infrastructure and Coastal Change in Southeastern Sri Lanka (SEDRIC), as well as Land Ownership and Womens Empowerment in Sri Lanka. She was the Principal Investigator on the Migration and collectives/networks as pathways out of poverty? Gendered vulnerabilities and capabilities amongst poor fishing communities in Asia project from 2016-2019. She has a PhD in anthropology from the University of Toronto, Canada with over 25 years of research and practice in the interface of gender, environment and development issues in the Asia-Pacific region. Her main areas of work are the social and cultural aspects of natural resource use, focusing on livelihood strategies in relation to poverty, vulnerability, resilience and wellbeing in fishing and farming communities. She is a member of the Scientific Steering Committee of Integrated Marine Biosphere Research (IMBeR), a global research project on ocean sustainability. She has worked in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Solomon Islands, Philippines and Vietnam.
Danesh Jayatilaka is a Research Fellow at the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES) and a doctoral candidate in economics. He coordinated the ‘Post-war growth and economic opportunities for women’ GROW programme and was Co-Investigator in ‘Involuntary Resettlement: A Cross Country Study on Urban Inequality and Poverty’, both studies funded by the IDRC and DFID. Recent publications include ‘Urban Community Profiles: Safe Relocation and Resettlement in Post-War Sri Lanka’ – Routledge (2018), ‘The right to adequate housing in post-conflict Colombo, Sri Lanka’ – Palgrave (2017), ‘Conflict, displacement and post-war recovery: A community profile of Passaiyoor East in Jaffna, Sri Lanka’ – ICES (2015), ‘The other side of migration and development nexus: The Sri Lankan experience in trafficking’ – Routledge (2015), ‘Planned relocations in the context of natural disasters: The case of Sri Lanka’ – Brookings Institution (2015), ‘The Impact of Displacement on Dowries in Sri Lanka’ – Brookings Institution (2015). Danesh has collaborated with various research institutions and is a former UN staff officer.
Ranmini Vithanagamaholds a B.A in Economics and a Masters in Economics from University of Colombo, and is currently reading for her PhD in Economics at University of Colombo. She is currently a consultant researcher in a longitudinal study looking at economic growth opportunities for women in the north (GRoW). Her other research interests include internal displacement and disability.
Viyanga Gunasekera is a Researcher at the International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Colombo. Currently, she is involved in projects studying barriers to women’s representation in politics, women’s land rights and empowerment, social inclusion and exclusion, and vulnerability in the light of covid 19 in Sri Lanka. She was previously involved in studies that explored the psychosocial wellbeing of ex-combatants and pluralistic memories of post-war Sri Lanka. Viyanga has a MPhil in Psychology from the University of Peradeniya. Her research interests include vulnerable groups of people, transitional justice, reconciliation, memory, women’s empowerment, and psychosocial wellbeing.
Nadine Vanniasinkam is currently involved in research related to inter-religious relations and conflict, the agency of women with disabilities in participating in the reconciliation process and gendered dimensions of poverty and migration in fishing communities in Sri Lanka. Her research interests lie in gender, nationalism and minority identity politics. She has a MA in Applied Linguistics from the University of Melbourne, a BA (Hons) in English Literature (University of Colombo) and a LLB from the University of London.
Eva Ambos is a cultural anthropologist. She has previously worked and taught at the
Universities Tübingen and Heidelberg in Germany. Her research interests include religion &
ritual, arts & performance, critical theory and decolonial approaches.
Dinushi Walpola holds a B.A in Psychology from the University of Peradeniya. She is currently involved in research related to Reimagining Vulnerability in the Light of Covid-19. She has previously conducted qualitative research on Conceptions about Homosexuality among Young Adults. Her research interests include sexual orientation, mental health, gender and vulnerable groups of people.
Rivanthi Loganathan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in Politics and International Relations as well as Development Studies, from the University of Adelaide. Her research interests revolve around gender studies, marginalized communities, mental health, social and public policy, and development strategies. She is particularly passionate about conducting research using bottom-up methodologies and collaborating with grassroots organizations while prioritizing a "do no harm" approach. She believes it is crucial for her research to negate potential negative impacts on the communities involved.
Uvini Panditha is an Attorney-at-Law by profession. She holds a LLB from the University of London, a BSC (Hons) in Psychology from the University of Coventry and is currently reading for her Masters in Human Rights and Democratisation at the University of Colombo. Her research interests include gender, human rights and religion.
Yohani Dodangoda is a graduate from the Faculty of Arts, University of Peradeniya and is also an LLB graduate from the University of London. She is currently studying for her Attorney's at Law Examination at the Sri Lanka Law College.