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Tamilnation > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Conflict Resolution - Tamil Eelam - Sri Lanka > Norwegian Peace Initiative > Tsunami & Aftermath > Government of Sri Lanka and LTTE sign Post-Tsunami Operational Management Structure (P-TOMS) > Text of Memorandum of Understanding for Establishment of a Post-Tsunami Operational Management Structure > Sri Lanka Government Explains P-TOMS in Statement tabled in Sri Lanka House of Representatives > The United National Party & P-TOMS - Having it Both Ways? > ISGA & the Law - Professor M. Sornarajah > Sri Lanka President Kumaratunga wants joint mechanism amended > Supreme Court Decision on P-TOMS > Lesson from the Supreme Court Decision on P-TOMS > The President Kumaratunga & the Chief Justice - Two Minds with but a Single Thought? - நான் பேச நினைப்பதெல்லாம் நீ பேச வேண்டும்
The United National Party & P-TOMS
Having it Both Ways?
Sri Lanka Daily Mirror
24 June 2005
The UNP yesterday said it supported in principle the setting up of the P-TOMS for the purpose of making urgently needed assistance available to tsunami affected people in the North and East, but also pointed out some weaknesses and flaws in the agreement.
UNP spokesman G.L. Peiris in a lengthy statement said,
“It is of vital importance that tsunami relief and rehabilitation must be given to all affected areas in the country and that this benefit must be conferred on all citizens of Sri Lanka including those residents in parts of the country at present dominated by the LTTE.
Since the greater proportion of the resources required for relief and rehabilitation is being put at our disposal by the international community consisting of governments, as well as the non-governmental sector, the requirement of accessing and mobilising donor funds is crucial to achieve effectiveness in respect if the recovery programme throughout the country.
The UNP recognises that success in this task, daunting in its proportions, is dependent on substantial and continuous donor support. The foundation of this consists of the decision made by the Donor Co-Chairs reflected in the Brussels Declaration of 25th January 2005 to "support the Government and the LTTE efforts to strengthen cooperation on assistance for relief, rehabilitation and development in the tsunami affected areas of the North and East."
It is abundantly clear from this sequence of events that the signing of the agreement was postulated by the Donor Community as a necessary condition for the release of assistance. Since Donor assistance is urgently required for the tsunami victims, who are undergoing intense suffering, the UNP believes that it is of critical importance to ensure that the prompt availability of this assistance is not jeopardized in any way. It is evident that an attempt to renegotiate the provisions of the agreement will place that aid in jeopardy.
It has been the consistent position of the UNP that issues relating to structures for the delivery of tsunami assistance must be sensitive to the peace process and must have the effect of fortifying and reinforcing it. The UNP has been entirely consistent in its articulation of the principles underpinning the political solution it envisages to the ethnic problem in Sri Lanka. The principal elements of our approach to the peace process are contained in the letter addressed by Leader of the UNP and Leader of the Opposition Ranil Wickremesinghe to the President on oath dated October 2004.
Our Party reiterated in that letter that our unqualified support is available for the peace process within the parameters set out in the Tokyo Declaration and the Oslo Communiqué, both of which acknowledge the pivotal principle of a united Sri Lanka.
This principle is of undiminished importance in the context of the current agreement. The public will recall that, within two weeks of the occurrence of the tsunami tragedy on 26th December 2004, the Working Committee of the UNP adopted a resolution directed towards mobilising the while nation to deal effectively with a disaster of unparalleled magnitude in our country's history.
The Working Committee's Resolution of 10th January 2005 proposed the establishment of a mechanism which allowed ample scope for participation by the Government, political parties, and representatives of ethnic communities, international organisations and broad segments of civil society. The functions and responsibilities of the proposed mechanism were conceived of in strikingly comprehensive terms. Among other salient functions, it was envisaged that the mechanism to be established would review the Needs Assessment of the Government and the Donor Agencies, formulate a programme and plan of action to cater for the requirements of all affected people, set up a special fund to support those who have lost family members, their homes and equipment and means of livelihood and establish a Community Action Committee at local authority level as a focal point for cooperation and unity.
Dr.S.Sathananthan in International Community & the 'Peace Process'
8 September 2004 "In the Tokyo Declaration, the four core States set the trap with the enthusiastic approval of Ministers and representatives from 51 countries and 22 international organizations who participated in the Conference; they are parties to the Declaration. The trap is in Clause 18(j). It specified that the "international community" expects "agreement by the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE on a phased, balanced, and verifiable de-escalation, de-militarization and normalization process at an appropriate time in the context of arriving at a political settlement." This does not mean the Sinhala State will disarm. Not at all. But the Declaration suspiciously requires the LTTE - a so-called non-State entity - to unilaterally disarm. LTTE did not participate in the Conference and is not a party to the Tokyo Declaration.
The letter of 10th May 2005 from the UNP Leader to the President said the UNP would have no objection to any arrangements which were to be made with regard to affected people in the LTTE dominated areas, provided that the arrangements fell within the framework of the Oslo Communiqué and the Tokyo Declaration founded upon the principle of a united Sri Lanka.
Our Party was mindful that the Tokyo Declaration, subscribed to by 52 nations and 21 international agencies participating in the Tokyo Conference held in June 2003 reflected the broadest conceivable consensus between the international community and the Government of Sri Lanka ever achieved in the history of Donor assistance to our nation.
While reiterating the generally supportive thrust of our approach to the P-TOMS agreement, we draw attention to several anomalous or incomplete provisions of the agreement and we place on record our reservations with regard to these areas.
Our concerns relate to the following aspects of the Agreement:
A. Section 5 (c) dealing with the High Level Committee contains provision which governs the composition of the High Level Committee. According to this provision, the High Level Committee consist of the following members:
i. 1 nominated by the government
ii. 1 nominated by the LTTE
iii. 1 nominated by the Muslim parties.
Since no provision is made for representation of the Sinhala community, the implication appears to be that the nominee by the Government will be a Sinhalese. The United National Party has consistently adopted the self-evident position that the Government of Sri Lanka represents all the people of Sri Lanka. The implication to the contrary contained in provision 5(c) is unacceptable. A future UNP government will act in conformity with the principle by which we have always abided in this regard.
B. It is unfortunate that the MOU referred to as the P-TOMS agreement was signed by the Government without the participation of the representatives of the Muslim community in the North and East. The substantial complaint derives from the absence of consultation with these groups in respect of a whole range of issues pertaining to the structural framework of the P-TOMS agreement.
There is a regrettable gap in respect of Muslim representation. When the peace process was embarked on under the aegis of our Government in 2002, the UNP considered it important to make appropriate arrangements to give effect to the principle of participation by the representatives of the Muslims in the North and East.
C. It is our view that clear provision should be made for the representation of the Sinhala community. As the document now stands, there is an obvious lacuna in this respect. Since the Government of Sri Lanka is not obliged to nominate a member of the Sinhala community to the High Level Committee, there could well be a situation in which the Sinhala community goes unrepresented. We think that this is unacceptable.
D. There is an anomaly with regard to the composition of the Regional Committee envisaged by section 6 of the document. Section 6 (c) makes it clear that the Chairperson of the Regional Committee will be a Member of the LTTE, while the Deputy Chairpersons are nominees of the Government and the Muslim parties. As in previous agreements, provision should be made for representatives to be nominated by the Government of Sri Lanka, but not to function as Deputy Chair. The latter provision entails an unacceptable relegation of the status of the Government of Sri Lanka.
E. The territorial areas within which the P-TOMS agreement will be operative are enveloped in some degree of doubt. This is attributable to the wording used in Section 2 of the document entitled "Scope". Section 2 (b) declares that: "The Tsunami Disaster Zone (the TDZ) shall be defined as an area affected by the Tsunami."
This is followed immediately by Section 2(c) with the provision that: “the TDZ shall include all that tsunami affected land area of Sri Lanka which is adjacent to the sea, lying within a limit of 2 kilometres landward from the mean low water line." This is an inclusive, as distinguished from an exhaustive, definition. It would therefore seem that the TDZ could, in keeping with, the definition embedded in this document, extend beyond the limit of 2 kilometres. This requires clarification.
F. In our view, a material omission in the document consists of the absence of any reference to the "Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (also known as the Deng principles) adumbrated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. This forms an essential part of the core principles applicable to the functions of the structures established by the document, and the deletion of these principles therefore constitutes a significant deficiency.
G. There is no scope accorded in the document to the principle of subsidiary which, in our opinion, is critical for good governance.
The thinking of the UNP in respect of all aspects of delivery of tsunami relief and, indeed, the ramifications of the larger peace process entails a sharp focus on the responsibilities of local government authorities, operating as they do in close proximity to the needs and aspirations of the people of the affected areas. The omission in this regard prevents grass-roots participation in the making and implementing of decisions. This cannot but affect adversely the practical functioning of the mechanism.