Our Profile



Sri Lanka

Promoting Rights and Justice, Diversity and Coexistence, and

Robust Institutions for Democracy


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.