Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

Home Whats New  Trans State Nation  One World Unfolding Consciousness Comments Search
Home > Tamil National ForumSelected Writings - Adrian Wijemanne > Sri Lanka and the International community

Tamil National Forum

Selected Writings - Dr. Adrian Wijemanne

Sri Lanka and the International Community

Ceylon Daily News, 4 July 2003

The tri-partite Ceasefire Agreement requires the active and full-hearted cooperation of all three sides to deliver even more than it has done so far. Now, however, one side to the Agreement, the GOSL, is paralysed by internal dissension within the Sinhala polity.

The President and the fastest growing Sinhala political party, the JVP, oppose any further progress under the Ceasefire Agreement tooth and nail. If recent promises made to the international community are to be fulfilled the present constitution has to be changed radically or abandoned altogether and replaced by a new one which reflects the realities of our present condition. As you are no doubt perfectly aware neither of these is a practical possibility given the present composition and alignments of the Sinhala political class.

The international community will soon realise that the Gordian Knot has to be cut and it is only their intervention with the needed force that will do it.

The hackneyed term "the international community" which had a vague connotation for years has assumed a new and far sharper definition after the Tokyo Conference of June 9th and 10th 2003.

The unanimous Declaration of that conference was signed by the representatives of 51 states of Europe , Asia and North America and of 22 international organisations. Taking the leading role in that gathering were Norway, Japan, The United States and The European Union's Presidency and Commission. Many of these states have already acted in concert to bring about peaceful resolution in recent conflicts in Europe -in Bosnia, in Kosovo and in Macedonia. They have the tacit agreement of the United Nations.

The conflict in Sri Lanka presents the international community with a far more intractable problem than any of the European conflicts mentioned above. The divide between the two contending parties is deeper and wider than in any of the European cases. An ethno-territorial separation compounded by linguo-cultural dichotomy, different systems of personal law and religious difference all combine at the same time to produce a chasm which the wit of man has so far failed to bridge. A peacemaking effort by India in 1987 failed spectacularly with the peacemakers themselves being embroiled in war with the LTTE and falling from grace with the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL). Direct peace talks inter se in 1989/90 and again in 1994/95 broke down acrimoniously followed by a return to war.

The recognition that neither side is able to bring the war to a successful conclusion and that the two parties together are unable to make peace by negotiations inter se has led , at the urging of the international community , to the invitation by both sides to The Royal Norwegian Government to act as a facilitator to bring the two sides together and to engender in them the will to peace which is indispensable for a peaceful settlement.

The first fruit of the facilitatory effort was the conclusion of a tri-partite Ceasefire Agreement which has survived for 15 months despite many infringements by both sides. Unhappily these infringements are escalating in seriousness as time passes and the limits of the facilitator's effectiveness without any armed force to enforce their findings and recommendations becomes ever more evident. In both Bosnia and Kosovo the international community has backed up its intervention with well armed military forces to enforce its decisions in the interests of maintaining peace.

The international community's peacemaking strategy in Sri Lanka is less intrusive than in either Bosnia or Kosovo. It is based upon the hope that the two contending parties will be able, in direct negotiations with each other with the help of the facilitator, to develop an acceptable solution - acceptable, that is, not only to the Sinhala and Tamil peoples but also to the international community in respect of its human rights concerns.

The record so far of nine months of dealings between the two sides, however, offers little hope for optimism. On the contrary, with every passing day it becomes clear that such a rapprochement is entirely beyond their capability.

The separate national constituencies that each party represents are too far apart for any rational hope for an agreement inter se. In short, the situation is Bosnian or Kosovan in an even more exacerbated form than in either of those countries.

The Declaration of the Tokyo Conference, however, calls on the two parties to reach an agreement first on a provisional administration for the North and East in which the majority of the Tamil people live and then go on to devising a federal form of government to replace the existing unitary state. The aid pledged at the Conference is conditional on the successful achievement of these objectives. This requires either a radical change of the present constitution of Sri Lanka or, more likely, its replacement by an entirely new constitution.

Neither of these is a practical possibility due to the rooted opposition to either by the incumbent President, her party the People's Alliance and the third, (and fastest growing) Sinhala extremist party, the JVP. This conditionality demonstrates vividly the international community's failure to grasp the magnitude of the abys that separates the two sides and the political paralysis that afflicts the Sinhala side.

If the international community is serious about a peaceful resolution of the Sri Lankan conflict it needs to adopt a far more interventionist approach. It needs to devise, in consultation with the two parties , a federal form of government for Sri Lanka, compel the acceptance of that form by the two sides and enforce its implementation on the ground by the presence of its own military forces under an High Representative of the international community who will be resident in Sri Lanka and will be answerable to the international community. This is the Bosnian model and it has worked for the last 8 years from 1995 to the present.

It could be said that this will be the end of Sri Lanka's independence. This is just a sterile legalistic objection.

Sri Lanka's "independence" is a myth that can no longer be allowed to stand in the way of a new chapter of life for the peoples of the island in accordance with the norms and values of international life in this century.



Mail Us Copyright 1998/2009 All Rights Reserved Home