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 

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Selected Writings
Visvanathan Rudrakumaran

The Tamils' Quest for Statehood
in the context of the Birth of New States
in the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia


"In short, the principle of territorial integrity protects a state only against invasion of its borders and not against internal rebellion... Lord Robert Cecil once justly observed that the main cause of recurrence of wars was precisely the permanent freezing of state frontiers. In a recent New York Times article, human rights activist Yelena Bonner (widow of Andrei Sakharov) writes that "the inviolability of a country's borders against invasion from the outside must be clearly separated from the right to statehood of any people within a state's borders."

"We, the Tamil people in the Island of Sri Lanka, salute the courage and determination of the peoples of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Byelorussia, Croatia, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldavia, Russia, Slovenia, Tadzhikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan, and congratulate them on their  independence. We also salute the International community, for endorsing these peoples' right to statehood."


Proclaimed the Brest Declaration:

"We the Republics of Byelorussia, Russia and Ukraine... state that the USSR as a subject of international law and a geopolitical reality is ceasing its existence."

The abortive August 1991 putsch in Moscow, characterized by former President Mikhail Gorbachev as a "purifying thunderstorm," destroyed the so called "indestructible union of free republics " Its place has been taken by a commonwealth of Independent States which is founded on the principle of self-determination and equality.

Similarly, the independence of Slovenia and Croatia, proclaimed on June 25, 1991 pursuant to popular mandate, has been recognized by the European Community taking Germany's lead. In both instances, the peoples have given meaning to the saying of a Soviet theoretical physicist, that when something is ruled from the centre, the optimization of life becomes impossible.

The flame of freedom in these countries had been kindled by the first free elections held there since before the Second World War. In these elections the peoples have expressed their sincere desire for freedom.

The events of the last six months have dramatically changed the map of the World. The present study is an attempt to analyze these developments in terms of international law as well as the international community's evolving standards for diplomatic recognition and evaluate the Tamils' quest for statehood in the island of Sri Lanka in the context of these precedents.

Reaction of the international community

In the words of Samuel Huntington of Harvard University "The twentieth century bias against political divorce, that is secession, is just about as strong as the nineteenth century bias against marital divorce".

Claims for secessions were pejoratively described as an attempt at �Balkanization� without any recollection that this term was originated not from national divisions as such but in order to describe the forcible imposition of an artificial and unstable "unity" requiring suppression of legitimate nationalist tendencies. States' opposition to secession has been motivated partly by their apprehension toward nationalist conflicts and partly by an all-too common misconception that maintenance of the status quo must guarantee stability.

This fixed opposition has often become even more acute....through a general misunderstanding of the principle of territorial integrity which is applicable exclusively on the interstate level, as is demonstrated by international legal documents such as article 10 of the covenant of the league of Nations and the Declaration of principles concerning Friendly Relations Among Nations, which prohibit external intervention; and article 2 (4) UN Charter, which is applicable only to UN members, namely to states.

The misunderstanding has manifested itself by assertion that the principle of territorial integrity is contradictory to that of self- determination ..an element in human rights law involving a right vis-a-vis the political authority.

However in the last six months, during which time the dynamics of self -determination gained a new momentum, it has become clear that, as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher put it, national sentiments can be suppressed but not extinguished. It has become obvious to everyone, as Germany observed, that when secession expresses the will of the people it is justified and that the will of the people is bound eventually to triumph. In the words of U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, the international community has realized that repressive use of force for the sake of unity is unjustifiable.

The international community's initial rejection of claims for secession as a "suicidal nationalism" has now given way, if not support, at least tacit acceptance of reality. A most graphic example of this is India's sudden change of heart toward the Baltic Republics which were recognized by her within three weeks of their secession.

The breakdown of States' resistance to secession is also due to mankind's growing awareness of the reality of a rapidly changing world. To cite the words of Claiborne Pell, chairman of the foreign Relations committee of the U.S. senate, a "bent of greater respect for human rights and self determination" and of the new world order is in the making, in which commonwealth and confederation are replacing the states that cannot hold together. The shift of public opinion in many countries, toward greater sympathy for peoples struggling for self- determination, explains why the leaders of those countries have eventually moved to revise their position on the matter.

Similarly to individual states, international and regional organization were also initially in opposition due to the fact that they are composed of states. As then U.N.Secretary General U Thant stated,

"So as far as the question of secession of a particular section of a Member State is concerned, the United Nations attitude is unequivocal. As an international organization, the United Nations has never accepted and does not accept -- and I do not believe it will ever accept -- the principle of secession of a part of its Member State."

Last June, as an armed conflict was erupting in Yugoslavia, the former UN Secretary General Perez de Cuellar, commented along the same lines that, as far as world organizations were concerned, the conflict within Yugoslavia remained "so far an internal matter." The UN's failure to respond to the peoples' wishes and to react prudently has resulted in the emergence of an alternative forum called "unrepresented Nations and peoples organizations".

The European Community initially adopted a similar attitude. Mr.Hans Van Den Broek, Foreign Minister of the Netherlands (which country was holding the EC presidency) while emphasizing Yugoslavia's territorial integrity declared that the recognition of Slovenia and Croatia was "not on the table."

However, when it became obvious that nationalist conflicts could transcend state boundaries, thus endangering international peace and stability, the UN and the EC redefined such conflicts as international and proceeded to impose an arms embargo and prepare to send a peacekeeping force to Yugoslavia conditional upon a ceasefire.

Even at this juncture, however, it is disheartening to see that a number of Asian and African countries, which suffered under alien domination and finally gained their independence through the exercise of self-determination, yet fail to understand other peoples, unquenchable thirst for freedom and toll in human suffering exacted in their struggle. India's initial opposition to the cautious proposal made by France, Britain and Belgium in favour of an arms embargo and encouragement of the conflicted parties to accept EC mediation, is a graphic example of such surprising insensitivity.

Human rights organizations, liberal academics and liberal media, because of their single-minded devotion to individual rights, do not look particularly favourably upon group rights, such as the right to self-determination. It should be noted that group rights and individual rights are in most instances complementary rather than contradictory. At that time of the 1848 Revolution in Europe, it was held that individual freedom and freedom of nations would create a free and just world order. Kymlickas points out that group rights provide a "meaningful context for choice." The right to self-determination is the other side of the coin of democracy. As Carr observes,

"Self-determination might indeed be regarded as implicit in the idea of democracy; for if every man's right is recognized to be consulted about the affairs of the political unit to which he belongs, he may be assumed to have an equal right to be consulted about the form and extent of the unit."

In the face of the dynamics of secessionism coupled with the unleashing of repression for the sake of maintaining artificial territorial unity, the various individuals, states and regional and international entities have silenced their initial opposition to secession and become, at the least, passive observers of new and historically dramatic developments in the world arena.

The international community, aware of these new realities, is now attempting to link the vindication of statehood claims to other issues. The EC and the USA have insisted that secession should be included as part of an overall peace settlement and have identified factors such as minority guarantees and frontier settlements as relevant to determining the legality of statehood. They also maintain that any "premature" endorsement of statehood is bound to result in aggression. In light of these new departures, it is imperative to ascertain whether these issues are adequately addressed by being bound together as a prerequisite of statehood.

Strengthening the Legality of the Peoples' Right to
Statehood in International Law

As stated in both Covenants on Human Rights,

"All people have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status...."

These Covenants raised self-determination to the status of Conventional Law and bind those countries that are parties to them without reservation.

As the Declaration on the Principles of International Law [G.A. Res 2625] and the UN sponsored study illustrate, the "establishment of a sovereign and independent state" is one made of implementing the right to self-determination by the "people".

Therefore, the peoples' right to establish an independent state has become part of the Conventional Law of those countries concerned. It should be pointed out that right to self-determination, being an element of human rights law, that is, involving the rights of peoples vis-a-vis their territorial sovereigns, is not in conflict with the principle of territorial integrity (which is applicable exclusively on the level of interstate relation, in the absence of involvement by a third state).

In short, the principle of territorial integrity protects a state only against invasion of its borders and not against internal rebellion.

Article 10 of the League of Nations covenant deals with external aggression not with conflicts engendered by populations within a state. As US President Woodrow Wilson rightly remarked, Article 10 of the League did not in any way interfere with the right of a people to self-determination. As the British Commentary on the League Covenant shows, the Covenant was never intended to make the new territorial settlements irrevocable or to consider them as sacrosanct but, on the contrary, its purpose was to provide a mechanism for the progressive regulation of international affairs according to new necessities.

Lord Robert Cecil once justly observed that the main cause of recurrence of wars was precisely the permanent freezing of state frontiers. In a recent New York Times article, human rights activist Yelena Bonner (widow of Andrei Sakharov) writes that "the inviolability of a country's borders against invasion from the outside must be clearly separated from the right to statehood of any people within a state's borders."

The above-mentioned legal analysis convincingly shows that a people's inalienable right to statehood is not limited by the principle of territorial integrity. Unfortunately, the EC initially was used to associating self-determination with territorial integrity, thus contributing to the regrettable prolongation of conflicts.

The Declaration of Principles of International Law, passed by acclamation after seven years of deliberation, recognizes the right to self-determination in the non-colonial context and states that if a government does not represent the population belonging to the territory without distinction as to race, creed and colour, the "people" have a legal right to establish an independent state, and the community of states have a legal duty to support the "people" in their struggle to exercise that right. Through passage by acclamation after full deliberation, the Declaration is considered an expression of Customary International Law.

Therefore it can be said that, under Customary International law, the community of states' legal duty is to assist the "people" in exercising their right to self-determination in the form of the establishment of an independent state under the above-mentioned instance, and that this duty takes precedence over the duty toward the principle of territorial integrity.

At an early stage of the peoples' upheaval for national freedom in the former USSR, the European foreign ministers urged Mr. Gorbachev to respect the sovereignty of the individual nations in accordance with the Paris Declaration signed November 1990. Similarly, the EC's initial commitment to preserving the borders of the Republics of Yugoslavia implicitly acknowledged the Republics' sovereign right.

Moreover from the beginning of the Yugoslavian conflict, the USA and Europe were in direct contact with these Republics and even undertook various specific actions such as the rendering of assistance or the imposition of sanctions. US President George Bush commented at the time that the US would work directly with both the central authorities and the Republics. In like manner, the German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher declared that Germany would establish ties with all the sovereign Republics of the former USSR. These practices demonstrate clearly that peoples have sovereign rights.

In the case of the Yugoslavian conflict, it should be pointed out that Serbia's military action was directed not in opposition to Croatia's independence but rather in order to further a "Greater Serbia." At the Hague, in October 1991, Mr. Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian leader, publicly acknowledged Croatia's right to independece. Similarly, Ethiopia's provisional government endorsed the Eritrean people's right to statehood.

The recognition of these people's right to statehood was not based on municipal legislation; the Yugoslavian Constitution did not provide for the possibility of a Republic's secession, while the provisional Ethiopian government has no constitution at all.

Therefore, the authorities' actions may in each of these instances be interpreted as an affirmation of the peoples' right to statehood under International Law; alternatively, their acknowledgments along with the withdrawal of Yugoslavian troops from Slovenia and the pledge to hold a referendum in Eritrea � actions which are devoid of any political expediency� have played a part in the evolution of Customary International Law with respect to the peoples' right to statehood. Finally, the recognition of Slovenia and Croatia by the EC has considerably strengthened the peoples' right to statehood in International Law.

Will the Endorsement of Statehood
Increase the Likelihood of Aggression?

It was initially feared that endorsement of the right to statehood and the diplomatic recognition of Slovenia and Croatia would increase violence and result in an aggression carried out by the Yugoslavian federal army. Croatia was open to such repression before the right to statehood was endorsed. In Sri Lanka the Tamils have been a target for repression by the Sinhala armed forces even in the absence of an endorsement of their right to statehood. Although these repressions can be condemned from a human rights perspective, to accuse Yugoslavia and Sri Lanka of aggression would be to stretch the accepted definitions of International Law.

The General Assembly Resolution 3314, Definition of Aggression, which intends to prevent aggression but which is applicable at the interstate level only does not come into play. However, given the lack of stability in those regions, the international community could have acted in a meaningful way under Chapter VII of the UN Charter on the ground that repressions had reached a level where they had begun to pose a threat to international peace and security. Or it could have done so on the basis of human rights laws. The international community's failure to act adequately in this instance can be attributed either to a simple lack of resolution and courage or to the view � expressed chiefly by France�that the above-mentioned legal basis is too tenuous.

On the other hand, the endorsement of Croatia's right to statehood and her subsequent diplomatic recognition would have made Croatia a subject of International Law and thus guarantee her the protection provided by the UN Charter, the Declaration of Principle Concerning Friendly Relations Among States, and other laws. In this connection, the example of Kuwait is highly instructive. Iraq's aggression against sovereign Kuwait (the latter a subject of International Law) was instantaneously condemned. The international community rallied under UN leadership and took swift and effective steps to put an end to the aggression. The acknowledgment of Croatia and Tamil Eelam as subjects of International law would have made the Yugoslavian and Sri Lankan governments guilty of aggression under the General Assembly Resolution 3314. Therefore, as Yelena Bonner correctly emphasized, diplomatic recognition and defense of the right to statehood would have deterred the armed forces of the metropolis and prevented bloodshed.

Moreover, the endorsement of the right to statehood would put the entities seeking independence on a par with the former metropolis before the eyes of the entire international community, enabling those entities to import weapons and materiel from other countries for the purpose of defending themselves. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman remarked that as an independent state, Croatia would be much better able to organize her defenses. A similar conclusion was expressed by the Armenian president, who declared that Armenia could defend herself by breaking away and joining the international community as a separate state. Endorsement of the right to statehood would also legitimate the supply of arms by provider nations to the fledgling states.

As US Senator D'Amato stated, an endorsement of the right to statehood would also send a clear message to the oppressor, that the international community would not sit back and allow the central government to carry out their repression. The truthfulness of this proposition was clearly illustrated by the fact that Serbia expressed her willingness to accept UN-sponsored mediation and a peacekeeping force only after Germany had extended diplomatic recognition to Croatia.

In other words, the endorsement of Croatia's secession, rather than leading to more violence, contributes to the peace process. This was acknowledged even by Lord Carrington, who initially had claimed that endorsement of Serbian statehood would cause continuing bloodshed.

Will Linking Endorsement of Statehood to the Treatment
of Ethnic Minorities Within Seceding Entities Further the Minorities' Interests?

Among the existing states, less than ten per cent can be safely characterized as homogeneous; Slovenia is a new addition to that fraction. Most other states include ethnic minorities within their borders. This statistical fact between majority and minority population, yet it is clear that the treatment of minorities in a great many countries remains far from satisfactory.

The view persists that minorities are better protected within larger entities. However there is scarcely any compelling evidence to support this theory. The evidence of this distressed ethnic minorities in the former USSR and the situation of the Punjabi Sikhs and the Kashmiri Muslims within India provide many instances pointing clearly toward the opposite conclusion.

The relationship between the majority and the ethnic minority in secession-oriented entities is usually a mixed one. In the Ukraine, there is no legal discrimination against her more than 10 million Russians, and the Russian territory has been granted autonomy. In Russia, the Tatars have been given greater economic autonomy, including control over extensive oil reserves. The Tatar Prime Minister described the recent negotiations with the Russians as the most constructive since those of 1552.

The Latvian government has secured the allegiance of the Russian minority with its policy of cultural pluralism. It also should be emphasized that the violence that took place in Georgia after the disintegration of the former USSR was not of an ethnic nature; it occurred between two factions of the same ethnic majority. In most instances the ethnic minorities' allegiance is with the seceding entity rather than with the "mother" state. For example the Crimea, which is inhabited mostly by Russians, while declaring independence preferred to stay in the Ukraine rather than become a part of Russia.

The 91% vote for Ukrainian independence and the 94% vote for Croatian independence would not have been possible without the support of the Russians living in the Ukraine and of the Serbian residents of Croatia. In the Baltic republics too, the ethnic minorities supported independece. For instance, ten Polish members of Lithuania's parliament joined in the reaffirmation of the country's independence.

Nevertheless, the current conflicts between the Serbs and Croatians and between Georgians and South Ossetians demonstrate the relationship between majority and ethnic minority within a seceding entity is not necessarily cordial. However, the power equation between a seceding entity and the metropoly is not the same as that between the seceding entity and its own ethnic minorities. Moreover, in most cases the root cause of the conflict between the seceding entity and the ethnic minorities lies in the former metropolis' deliberate manipulations.

To "divide and rule" is not new strategy; the colonial powers made ample use of it in their day. It was not unknown to President Gorbachev either: in his union treaty he elevated the status of autonomous regions within the republics and allowed them to appeal directly to the union government in the event of disputes between the autonomous regions and the republics. The Georgian government accused the KGB of instigating the disturbances involving South Ossetians in order to create a pretext for Moscow to intervene and crush the Georgian independence movement. In much the same spirit, although the Serbs are not settled on a continuous territory in Croatia, Milosevic hoped to rely on them for the advancement of his Greater Serbia plan. In Sri Lanka the Sinhalese-controlled government uses the Muslim population as a pawn in their war game against the Tamils, in an effort to crush their quest for statehood.

Moreover, the "collaboration" of an ethnic minority within a seceding entity with a initial metropolis, due to the latter's manipulation, is bound to be the cause of resentment on the part of the seceding entity. It is not, however, a legitimate excuse for the seceding entity or independent state to violate the minority's rights. In the absence of constitutional guarantees, its rights can only be protected by international guarantees. Yet these international guarantees are far from perfect. Currently, the chief clauses pertaining to the protection of minorities are Article 27 of the Civil and Political Covenant which provides that, "in those states in which ethnic,  religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion or use their own language"; and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination which also encompasses ethnic minorities. The entities that are parties to these Conventions are exclusively states. Therefore in order to apply these guarantees to ethnic minorities seceding entities the latter should first be recognized as states and encouraged to join these Conventions.

As US Secretary of State James Baker once commented, unless the seceding entities complement their independence with equal treatment of persons belonging to minorities, they will soon find the same crisis of legitimacy, cohesion, and effectiveness which had caused the disintegration of the metropolis in the first place. The ostensible protection of ethnic minorities as a one-time demonstration when the seceding entity applies for diplomatic recognition will not secure the minorities' interests, since there is no guarantee that the municipal protection will not be removed at a later date. Minorities should be permanently under the protection of the international community.

Moreover, if the international community were to stipulate the protection of minority interests as a requirement for diplomatic recognition, many of the existing states would be instantly de-recognized. In light of the prevalence of unfair treatment of minorities, ranging from discrimination to outright genocidal oppression, the international community's insistence on linking the issue of minorities within seceding entities to that of recognition of statehood certainly seems to be politically motivated.

Will Diplomatic Recognition of the Seceding
Entities Further the Peaceful Settlement of Frontier Disputes?

President Yeltsin's assertion, immediately after the Ukraine's declaration of independence, that Russia intended to revive her pre-revolutionary claims to the Ukraine raised alarms in international quarters. Against this background, the second section of Secretary Baker's fivefold test for diplomatic recognition as well as Lord Carrington's four-point plan which included, among other things, the prohibition against alterations of the country's external and internal borders by unilateral acts or use of force, definitely make sense. The troubling question is one of the legal bases for Azerbaijan, declaring with respect to Nagorno  Karabakh, that territorial issues cannot be an issue for talks with the Republics.

The legal basis for the international community's concern with respect to internal borders do not seem to be substantial, since the Republics within a state are not subjects of International Law. Nevertheless, International Law can reach its arm to these Republics under Chapter VII of the the UN Charter by alleging that the change of frontier or internal border constitutes a threat to international peace and security. However, the endorsement of the statehood and the subsequent diplomatic recognition of the former Soviet Republics and of Slovenia and Croatia would make them subjects of International Law and thereby elevate the internal boundaries to external borders.

The borders of states are regulated very well by International Law. For instance, Article 2(4) of the UN Charter provides that "all members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity." The same principle is reiterated in the Declaration of Principles Concerning Friendly Relations Among Nations. As independent states, these entities are subject to and bound by the aforementioned legal provisions. Therefore the recognition of these entities as independent states will provide the international community with solid legal bases and legal tools for the peaceful regulation of frontier disputes. In other words, the international community's concern about frontier disputes can be resolved by first granting diplomatic recognition to these entities.

The Tamils' Quest for An Independent state
in the Island of Sri Lanka.

The Sinhala community, which has gained overwhelming political control over the destinies of the Island of Sri Lanka since independence, flagrantly denies the rights of Tamils who have lived in the Northern and Eastern territories of the Island since time immemorial. By the 1956 Official Language Act No. 33, Sinhala became the sole language, thus reducing employment opportunities for the Tamils. The introduction of the standardization and District Quota System, a reverse form of affirmative action, has benefited the Sinhala community that wield political power in the Island at the expense of Tamils' pursuit of higher education. The 1972 Constitution gave Buddhism a special status � promoting it at the expense of taxpayers including non-Buddhist tax revenues � and removing Section 29 of the Soulbury Constitution, a guarantee against Sinhala tyranny.

The Constitution of 1978 reaffirmed the Sinhala and Buddhist dominance on the Island without improving the position of the Tamils. The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution denies the Tamils their right to freedom of conscience and freedom of expression. The Prevention of Terrorism Act No. 48 of 1979 and the emergency regulations deny the Tamils due process rights and sanction extrajudicial executions and torture. Since 1983 Sri Lanka has been notoriously prominent on the agenda of the Human Rights Commission and Sub Commission.

The nongovernmental organizations have found Sri Lanka guilty of "gross and systematic" violations of human rights. The Tamils' traditional homeland has been colonized on the pretext of a developmental scheme thereby threatening the Tamils' self-preservation and security and reducing their electoral representation. On top of all this, the Tamils have been subjected to a serial pogrom organized by Sinhalese governments since 1956.

The population of the Northern and Eastern territories of Sri Lanka, united by their common language � Tamil and by their "passionate yearning for freedom" constitute a "people" and are therefore entitled to self-determination. In the 1977 general election, the Tamils expressed their desire to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination in the form of establishment of an independent state. Since then they have remained true to their pursuit of statehood; through "everyday plebiscite" they have shown overwhelming support for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which is committed to the realization of the Tamils' right to self-determination. A non violent struggle in response to state terrorism has developed first into a guerrilla war and then, with the peoples' support, into a conventional war waged by Tamils under the able and authentic leadership of LTTE.

The Tamils' struggle for statehood has many parallels with events which have taken place in the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia within the last six months. It is similar to the independence struggles in Slovenia and Croatia in response to discrimination and oppression by central government. Like Yugoslavia's predominantly Serbian army, the Sri Lankan army consists almost exclusively of Sinhalese officers and troops. Serbia's demand that the Albanians of Kosovo take an oath of allegiance is reminiscent of a similar oath forced on the Tamils of Sri Lanka by the government on the strength of the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution. The events in Croatia remained one of Sri Lanka's Central authorities' preoccupation with territorial expansion through further colonization. Like the manipulation of South Ossentian sentiments by the former Soviet government, the Sri Lankan government is engaged in straining the relationship between the Tamils and Muslims on the Island in order to weaken the Tamils' struggle for statehood.

However, although there are indeed numerous similarities between these recent events and the history of the Tamils' struggle in Sri Lanka, there are just many differences. Without trivializing the amount of human suffering in all the above countries, the contemporary toll in human suffering in the Island of Sri Lanka is proportionately even higher than has been experienced in those other long-suffering countries. While Slovenia and Croatia enjoyed limited self rule in Yugoslavia, the Tamils of Sri Lanka have never experienced this. While the six-month conflict in Yugoslavia eventually resulted in an arms embargo, the plan for the introduction of a UN peacekeeping force following political settlement and the diplomatic recognition of Slovenia and Croatia, the fifteen year-old conflict in Sri Lanka has brought about only the massive foreign aid which is now pouring into the hands of the Island's government and a deaf ear turned to the Tamils' cry for freedom.


In the words of Lord Acton, "A state which is incompetent to satisfy different races condemns itself". When marriage grows strained, divorce enables each spouse to start a new life. A similar desire to "start a new life" was the cause behind the US struggle for independence.

The colonies declared that, due to escalating tensions, it was time to "dissolve the political bounds which connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the Earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them." The same idea was also expressed by President Vaclav Havel of Czechoslovakia who believes that if life together in one state becomes impossible a constitutional separation is in order.

The birth of new nation should not be seen as a threat to stability. As it is argued earlier, stability is not synonymous with the status quo. Indeed, forcibly maintaining the status quo will inevitably lead to instability. Moreover, the international community should also recognize, as the events of the recent past have amply demonstrated, that a new world order is emerging in which each people will be able to realize their right to self-determination. The international community should be aware that Sri Lanka is breaking up as a single political entity. To cite President Havel once again, "it is time to listen and to act."

The Northern and Eastern territories of the Island of Sri Lanka are under the defacto control of the LTTE. The Sinhalese government's writ no longer reigns there. The question is not whether or not the Republic of Tamil Eelam will emerge but how many lives lost and how much instability will go into its final triumph.

President Havel said that politicians in power should resign in shame if they are unable to resolve national conflicts amicably and with a civilized culture. The peaceful partition of Norway and Sweden is highly instructive. Unfortunately, since the Sinhala political establishment has neither the culture nor the vision nor the leadership of the Swedish government, it is up to the international community to intervene under Chapter VII of the UN Charter and to restore peace with justice.

The indifference on the part of the international community will inevitably place it in the dock of history. The past forty years have made abundantly clear that the time for counselling and therapy is over. It is time for corrective surgery. Even Lord Carrington, who initially opposed the recognition of Slovenia and Croatia, acknowledged that the prospect of imminent recognition of those entities alone caused Serbia to observe the 15th ceasefire agreement.

The precedents and especially those of the recent past call upon the international community to endorse the Tamils' right to statehood in order to be consistent and objective. Chapter VII of UN Charter obliges the international community to endorse the Tamils' right to statehood and to facilitate the birth of a new world order in which each people will be able to realize its right to self-determination and the threat to international peace and security will be minimized. The Declaration of Principle Concerning Friendly Relations Among Nations imposes a legal duty on the international community to endorse the Tamils' right to statehood and thus reduce the birth pangs of the Tamil People.




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