The Founder and Executive Director of ACCORD, Vasu Gounden, was invited to be a resource person at a seminar entitled 'Envisioning New Trajectories for Peace in Sri Lanka', which was held in Zurich, Switzerland, from 8-9 April. The seminar was hosted by the Centre for Just Peace and Democracy (CJPD), Switzerland, in collaboration with the Berghof Foundation for Conflict Studies, Sri Lanka.
About thirty eight high level participants drawn from a cross section of civil society in Sri Lanka. Peace activists from the diaspora community and peace experts from the international community attended the seminar.
The seminar was organized around eight issue areas to allow a focused dialogue on key challenges based on brief inputs from two or more participants who were asked to write topical papers on the respective issues. Mr Gounden formed part of the final panel session which focused on the topic 'Re-envisioning Sri Lanka – Lessons learned & Challenges and Opportunities'. Mr Gounden’s contribution focused on 'Re-envisioning Sri Lanka- ways forward and breaking the dead-lock'.
The three main goals for the Seminar were:
- To bring together a cross section of conflict resolution experts and peace activists from the major communities in Sri Lanka, from the diaspora community, and from the international community to share their analyses of the current situation in Sri Lanka and its background, and to share ideas for taking the process forward towards a just peace;
- To generate a set of papers comprising these analyses and ideas, to revise them in the light of the discussion at the seminar, and to make them available to all the main stakeholders; and
- To facilitate a dialogue on the contributions from all participants and to explore common ground with respect to effective ways of taking the process forward towards just peace.
In February 2006 Mr Gounden was invited by The Foundation for Co-existence, based in Colombo, to be a presenter at their symposium entitled: 'Peace Negotiations in Sri Lanka', where he participated in a session focusing on international experiences, providing an overview of the South African peace process as well as the role of civil society.
Mr Gounden is an international mediator, trainer and researcher in the field of conflict resolution with over sixteen years experience. Having founded ACCORD in 1992, he has worked with former President Nelson Mandela in facilitating the role of civil society in the peace process in Burundi, and served as an advisor on strategy to former President Masire on the InterCongolese Dialogue Peace Process. In September 2005 Mr. Gounden was the first member of an African NGO in the history of the United Nations Security Council to address the Council. In 2000 he was elected by the World Economic Forum as one of their Global Leaders for Tomorrow.