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DRI has worked in Sri Lanka since March 2016 and is conducting activities both at the national level in Colombo and in all nine provinces, including and particularly in the North and East. Tailoring its interventions to the Sri Lankan context, DRI has provided international and comparative expertise in the thematic areas of human rights, constitutions, and democratic discourse with a focus on strengthening civil society in their work towards democratic reforms.

DRI has been implementing the project Accompanying Sri Lanka’s Democratic Transition with support of the German Federal Foreign Office between March 2016 and December 2017. The project has helped strengthening democratic consolidation in Sri Lanka by generating broad stakeholder participation through engagement with human rights compliance and monitoring mechanisms and informing the reform process with comparative expertise. DRI has also worked with Sri Lankan parliament, civil society and other social and economic actors to ensure ongoing stakeholder dialogue and engagement around the constitutional reform process. DRI has not advocated for or against certain changes but rather provided fact-based information on the process and core issues.

Since February 2017, DRI is also implementing the three-year global project Promoting Human and Labour Rights through GSP+ with the support of the European Union (EU). The project has informed civil society and other stakeholders about the EU’s Special Incentive Arrangement for Sustainable Development and Good Governance (GSP+) and empowered them to become effective advocates and drivers of change for the promotion of human rights in Sri Lanka. DRI is working to meet this objective by raising awareness, building capacity, convening stakeholders, and conducting global analysis.

In addition to this, DRI is engaged in social media monitoring in Sri Lanka with a view to preventing extreme polarisation, hate speech and violence. With the support of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs DRI has implemented the project Strengthening Rights-Based Citizenship and Social Cohesion in Sri Lanka by Countering Anti-Democratic Trends Online and Offline between September 2018 and February 2019. Under this project, DRI produced the Social Media Analysis What Facebook tells us about Social Cohesion in Sri Lanka, which entails an analysis of how social media influences Sri Lanka’s political discourse with a particular view to hate speech and misleading information during three important political events Sri Lanka has witnessed in 2018, i.e. the local government elections, anti-Muslim violence and the constitutional crisis.

Since April 2019 DRI is implementing the project Fostering the Protection of Human and Labour Rights through Trade Instruments with the support of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). Complementing DRI’s work with civil society on human rights monitoring under the GSP+ scheme, the project aims at improving the capacity of trade unions in monitoring, reporting and promoting labour rights in compliance with Sri Lanka’s international commitments.

DRI’s work in Sri Lanka has been supported by the following donors:


Photo: Ankur P / flickr

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