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Post-Geneva Delusions: The Next Steps in Sri Lanka

03.31.12

Post-Geneva Delusions: The Next Steps in Sri Lanka

03.31.12
Laura Dupuy Lasserre, president of the Human Rights Council opens session on Sri Lanka at the Human Rights Council. Jean-Marc Ferré/UNLaura Dupuy Lasserre, president of the Human Rights Council opens session on Sri Lanka at the Human Rights Council. Jean-Marc Ferré/UN

Sri Lanka’s Minister of External Affairs, G.L. Peiris, has recently given one additional reason for the passage of a resolution on Sri Lanka at the UN’s Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva: “collective commitments.”

Laura Dupuy Lasserre, president of the Human Rights Council opens session on Sri Lanka at the Human Rights Council. Jean-Marc Ferré/UN

Evidently, Mr. Peiris had been informed by one of his European counterparts that certain members of the European Union (EU) were unsupportive of the resolution, but were compelled to vote in favor of it, since a group decision had been taken by the EU. Mr. Peiris went on to say that even some US Congressman did not view the HRC in a positive light, due to the fact that the body is “politicized.” (It is unclear to this writer how a United Nations forum where nation states meet to discuss human rights could be apolitical, but I will not belabor that point).

In addition, Mr. Peiris also announced in Parliament that the government would not tolerate foreign intervention of any kind. If this is post-Geneva government policy, what does all of this mean? The Sri Lankan government mismanaged its time and resources in Geneva. Besides, it was never really clear who was leading the delegation anyway. Was it G.L Peiris or was it Plantation Minister and Special Human Rights Envoy Mahinda Samarasinghe?

It will be interesting to see how Rajapaksa’s administration handles questions related to the resolution, national reconciliation and international diplomacy moving forward. Having just been embarrassed in Geneva, now would be an appropriate time to show more political maturity and to craft a practicable strategy that the government can act upon over the next twelve months.

What Next?

The recent remarks made by G.L. Peiris miss the point: irrespective of “collective commitments,” the flaws of the HRC and the seemingly contradictory stance of some Western nations on this matter, the resolution on Sri Lanka has been passed. The Rajapaksa administration should spend more time talking about how it is going to comply with the resolution and less time making excuses for its feckless diplomacy and failed policies, both domestic and foreign. Instead, President Rajapaksa is busy talking about how his country has been “victimized” as a result of biased media coverage. The president forgot to mention that, when it comes to media, Sri Lanka is one of the least free places in the world. And, particularly when it comes to print media, there are virtually no strident critics of government policy.

Unfortunately, these are all early indications that Rajapaksa’s insecure government is still unable to face reality. The merits of the resolution on Sri Lanka can be debated endlessly, but the fact that 40 nations signed on as co-sponsors is telling. It appears that Sri Lanka’s shoddy human rights record will continue to garner attention, at least until March 2013. At that time, the HRC will reconvene for its 22nd session and the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) will present a report as to how it has worked with the Sri Lankan government to implement the LLRC recommendations.

Now, according to the resolution, OHCHR can only “assist” the government with the regime’s consent. But, just a few days after the passage of this resolution, the government is still talking about Western conspiracies, lamenting the faults of the HRC and making it clear that it wants and needs no foreign assistance. It is unfortunate that the appetite for a stronger resolution in Geneva did not materialize this time around. However, what will happen if the government continues to prevaricate when it comes to implementing the LLRC recommendations and responds tepidly to offers of international support?

The Endgame

If the Rajapaksa administration does not take this resolution seriously, it is obviously making the following political calculation: Nothing will happen (except inertia and empty rhetoric) at the 22nd session of the HRC. Relatedly, political grandstanding and intransigence on this issue, while concurrently extolling the virtues of Sinhala nationalism, will continue to resonate with the masses in Sri Lanka; so the Rajapaksa administration will keep those exhortations alive.

If the government is right about the HRC, President Rajapaksa will have played his hand brilliantly and would further consolidate his power. Yet, if he is wrong, Sri Lanka will again be embarrassed at a United Nations multilateral forum and may face consequences (like another (tougher) resolution or perhaps economic sanctions) at that time.

And, most distressingly for the Rajapaksa administration, that dreaded “A” word, accountability, will be the elephant in the room. The continued deterioration of the rule of law, the lack of respect for minority rights and, most importantly, the government’s refusal to act upon the recommendations outlined in its own presidentially-appointed commission are what (hopefully) give the words “independent investigation” meaning nearly three years after the end of the civil war.

9 comments
18 comments
sritruth10
sritruth10

A well moderated article on a bizarre saguine ethnic situation in the island which has become common knowledge worldwide. Even though the Emperor has no clothes his Ministers at the Geneva Meeting (no one was sure which of the two Ministers headed the Delegation!) did their damnest to sow confusion, obfuscation and  endless prevarications to confuse and confound the real issues at stake,  namely full accountability for serious crimes and proper reconciliation. As events at the UNHCR turned out they even brought with them  dozens of "delegates" to intimidate and bamboozle human rights organisations and HR delegates that official compalints were made and official denunciations issued about  unsavoury conduct. Not much imagination is required why so many witnesses were scared to give testimony before the LLRC incountry and some of those who did were taken to task by the military and even told to appear before the secret police or CID HQs in Colombo! according to local news reports! Little wonder then government has pooh-poohed the UNHCR Resolution as non-binding by a sovereign country! Even the sovereignty that lies with the people, according to the constitution of the country, has been usurped by the government! Much stress has been laid incountry that even if the issue  goes to the UN Security Council Russia and China are there to bail them out! Little wonder then  that serious crimes against the people, including in the south after May 2009, has escalated with total impunity. After all the PTA taken from the Afrikaaner regime of former S. Afrika is as strong as ever in the island Republic for the past 40 years to give cover to governments and their agents.    

sritruth10

A well moderated article on a bizarre saguine ethnic situation in the island which has become common knowledge worldwide. Even though the Emperor has no clothes his Ministers at the Geneva Meeting (no one was sure which of the two Ministers headed the Delegation!) did their damnest to sow confusion, obfuscation and  endless prevarications to confuse and confound the real issues at stake,  namely full accountability for serious crimes and proper reconciliation. As events at the UNHCR turned out they even brought with them  dozens of "delegates" to intimidate and bamboozle human rights organisations and HR delegates that official compalints were made and official denunciations issued about  unsavoury conduct. Not much imagination is required why so many witnesses were scared to give testimony before the LLRC incountry and some of those who did were taken to task by the military and even told to appear before the secret police or CID HQs in Colombo! according to local news reports! Little wonder then government has pooh-poohed the UNHCR Resolution as non-binding by a sovereign country! Even the sovereignty that lies with the people, according to the constitution of the country, has been usurped by the government! Much stress has been laid incountry that even if the issue  goes to the UN Security Council Russia and China are there to bail them out! Little wonder then  that serious crimes against the people, including in the south after May 2009, has escalated with total impunity. After all the PTA taken from the Afrikaaner regime of former S. Afrika is as strong as ever in the island Republic for the past 40 years to give cover to governments and their agents.    

gnanalayam
gnanalayam

What is realy happenning?  Int. society also getting itself tutered well practically HOW the govts. DECIEVED tamils by making PACTS and then TEARING, forming COMMISSIONS and NOT FOLLOWING the decissions,

without any int. attention!

But now the time and scene are actually changing.

How long int. community woo them??????

gnanalayam

What is realy happenning?  Int. society also getting itself tutered well practically HOW the govts. DECIEVED tamils by making PACTS and then TEARING, forming COMMISSIONS and NOT FOLLOWING the decissions, without any int. attention! But now the time and scene are actually changing. How long int. community woo them??????

Piranha

Going by past examples of how this regime ignored domestic commission and tribunal recommedations it is likely that the regime will simply ignore the UNHRC recommedations also and take a chance at the 2013 UNHRC meeting. The regime knows that getting support for punitive actions will not be easy as shown by the UNHRC vote this year trying to approve the watered down version of the original intended motion.

 

The intransigence of the sinhala regimes to  give some of the rights enjoyed by the sinhala majority is evidence of what the tamils are up against. Now the world realises why the tamils took up arms to fight for their rights in Sri Lanka.

Piranha

Going by past examples of how this regime ignored domestic commission and tribunal recommedations it is likely that the regime will simply ignore the UNHRC recommedations also and take a chance at the 2013 UNHRC meeting. The regime knows that getting support for punitive actions will not be easy as shown by the UNHRC vote this year trying to approve the watered down version of the original intended motion.   The intransigence of the sinhala regimes to  give some of the rights enjoyed by the sinhala majority is evidence of what the tamils are up against. Now the world realises why the tamils took up arms to fight for their rights in Sri Lanka.

PuniSelva

''This paper will show that the concept of Sinhalization extends well beyond the subjects of strategic state-planned settlements, land, military intrusion, boundary changes and the renaming of villages. Sinhalization has made its way into Tamil cultural events, religious life, economic activity, public sector recruitment and even the Sri Lankan education system'' - ‘Salt on Old Wounds: The Systematic Sinhalization of Sri Lanka’s North, East and Hill Country’, 20 March 2012, http://www.internationalpolicydigest.org/2012/03/20/salt-on-old-wounds-post-war-sri-lanka/?fb_ref=.T2ihTCH4Ew4.like&fb;_source=home_multiline

PuniSelva
PuniSelva

''This paper will show that the concept of Sinhalization extends well beyond the subjects of strategic state-planned settlements, land, military intrusion, boundary changes and the renaming of villages. Sinhalization has made its way into Tamil cultural events, religious life, economic activity, public sector recruitment and even the Sri Lankan education system'' - ‘Salt on Old Wounds: The Systematic Sinhalization of Sri Lanka’s North, East and Hill Country’, 20 March 2012, http://www.internationalpolicydigest.org/2012/03/20/salt-on-old-wounds-post-war-sri-lanka/?fb_ref=.T2ihTCH4Ew4.like&fb;_source=home_multiline

PuniSelva

http://groundviews.org/2012/03/31/fishing-in-turbulent-waters/Fishing in turbulent waters, 31 March 2012:The case of the fishing industry in the Jaffna Peninsula suggests that the current development strategy can reinforce and reproduce some existing social hierarchies, power relations and suppressions among people in the war affected areas. The manner in which post-war development is being framed by mainstream nationalism strengthens uneven development among different ethnic communities that would lead to more tension amongst inhabitants in the war affected areas. In other words, against the popular belief that development is the solution to the ethnic problem, a politically articulated discourse of development can also fuel the conflict, by unevenly distributing the benefits of economic growth among different ethnic communities.

PuniSelva
PuniSelva

http://groundviews.org/2012/03/31/fishing-in-turbulent-waters/Fishing in turbulent waters, 31 March 2012:The case of the fishing industry in the Jaffna Peninsula suggests that the current development strategy can reinforce and reproduce some existing social hierarchies, power relations and suppressions among people in the war affected areas. The manner in which post-war development is being framed by mainstream nationalism strengthens uneven development among different ethnic communities that would lead to more tension amongst inhabitants in the war affected areas. In other words, against the popular belief that development is the solution to the ethnic problem, a politically articulated discourse of development can also fuel the conflict, by unevenly distributing the benefits of economic growth among different ethnic communities.

PuniSelva

Rajapakse is too Sinhala-nationlistic to listen to good Sinhalese:citizens who are appealing to him to be fair to all citizens :

 

''After decades of internecine conflict, almost from the time of our independence from colonial rule, our country now faces many challenges, particularly in the areas of promoting reconciliation among communities, reducing economic hardships and eliminating lawlessness'' - Govt must present road map for implementing recommendations in LLRC Report, 28 March 2012,Jayantha Dhanapala and Emeritus Prof Savithri Gooesekere, http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/5148 (Dhanapala is former UN Under-Secretary General  for Disarmament and Prof Goonesekere was Professor of Law, University of Colombo)

PuniSelva
PuniSelva

Rajapakse is too Sinhala-nationlistic to listen to good Sinhalese:citizens who are appealing to him to be fair to all citizens :   ''After decades of internecine conflict, almost from the time of our independence from colonial rule, our country now faces many challenges, particularly in the areas of promoting reconciliation among communities, reducing economic hardships and eliminating lawlessness'' - Govt must present road map for implementing recommendations in LLRC Report, 28 March 2012,Jayantha Dhanapala and Emeritus Prof Savithri Gooesekere, http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/5148 (Dhanapala is former UN Under-Secretary General  for Disarmament and Prof Goonesekere was Professor of Law, University of Colombo)

DiegoCarvalho123
DiegoCarvalho123

 @Piranha Thanks for another great article, Bateman. Piranha, I fully agree with your assessment and do not expect the GoSL to do much with the LLRC recommendations in the next year.

DiegoCarvalho123
DiegoCarvalho123

 @Piranha Thanks for another great article, Bateman. Piranha, I fully agree with your assessment and do not expect the GoSL to do much with the LLRC recommendations in the next year.

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