Ultimate goal of Geneva resolutions

During the last few weeks, serious concerns have been expressed in print and electronic media about the possibility of imposing economic sanctions on Sri Lanka and trade embargos, actions against alleged war crimes committed by Sri Lankan armed forces, and immediate international intervention on Sri Lanka etc.

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Storm in a tea cup

The third ‘UN Resolution’ (the 1st and the 2nd passed in 2012 and 2013) will be hopefully passed on 28 March 2014 on Sri Lanka’s human rights record.

Here are the relevant extracts from the draft resolution put up by US.

“…Calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka: to conduct an independent and credible investigation into allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, as applicable; to hold accountable those responsible ….; and to implement the recommendations made in the reports ….Commissioner;

“…Welcomes the High Commissioner’s recommendations and conclusions on the need for an independent and credible international investigation in the absence of a credible national process with tangible results, and requests the Office of the High Commissioner …to monitor relevant national processes, …to present an oral update to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-seventh fourth session, and a comprehensive report followed by a discussion on the implementation of the present resolution at its twenty-eighth fifth session”

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From the above, it is clear that the draft resolution has only called upon the Government to conduct an internal investigation into allegations. It only welcomes HC’s recommendations on the need for an international investigation in the absence of such an internal process. However, it is likely that US was strategising this time to eventually present a more stringent and strong resolution for approval calling for an immediate international probe.

The draft resolution welcomed the process of setting up the Northern Provincial Council headed by the Chief Minister from TNA. The Central Government of Sri Lanka has been providing all the necessary resources for developing the north and east as in the case of other provincial councils. As some pro-LTTE websites reported, quote: “If people still believe that the UN or the Human Rights Council are going to save the Sri Lankan Tamils, they are not in the real world.”
During the final stages of the so called war in 2009, it was the government forces who saved the life of the Tamil people trapped in between and kept by LTTE as ‘human shield’. This was confirmed by Eric Solheim, former Norwegian Politician recently at his book launch too.

It is obvious that the real motive behind this move by US is not to promote reconciliation, human rights and accountability in Sri Lanka. Instead, they have a strategic interest in the entire region. Also, the West and United States are highly concerned that China would emerge as the super-power status economically, thus dominating the Indian Ocean region economically as well as a militarily power- base later. The writer has attempted to illustrate graphically a pyramid of the ultimate goal of the US.

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New Indian Ocean strategy

As can be seen from the pyramid, the ultimate goal of the United States of America is to regain full control and dominance over the Indian Ocean region. In order to achieve that they need to ensure that the emerging Asian countries like India, Sri Lanka and China would not get together and form a ‘regional strategic alliance’. This can only be done through creating division among those countries. It is in that context that the Indian factor is vital for Sri Lanka.
During the 2006-2009 war, India wanted the LTTE defeated despite objections from the Tamil Nadu political leadership. Since then, Indo-Sri Lanka bilateral relationships were seen going through a bad patch. This should not be construed to visibly known factors arising from domestic electoral compulsions only.

As articulated by Bandu De Silva, an eminent career diplomat, the Indian foreign policy is based on a fundamental principle of ‘in diplomacy, there were no permanent friendships, but permanent interests’. He further claims that under the ‘Panikkar Doctrine,’ Sri Lanka was conceived as essential for India’s forward defence system in the direction of Indian Ocean. Therefore it has now become necessary to dispel India’s concerns about growing tie-up between Sri Lanka and China and how it impacts India’s national security.  The onus is on Sri Lanka to develop bilateral relationship with India. Sri Lanka needs to emphasise the importance of forming a strategic alliance with China and come to some kind of a tripartite agreement to safeguard the Indian Ocean forward defence line and promoting the ‘Maritime Silk Route’ strategy for greater economic benefits for the three nations.

Forming strategic alliance

BRICS refers to five fast-growing developing economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Following the 2013 summit in Durban, South Africa, the BRICS countries released a joint statement summarising the results of their discussions and naming Brazil as the host country for the 2014 summit. Having agreed to set up a new international development bank , the next summit was initially scheduled for March 2014, but was shifted to a later date at China’s request; it is now likely to occur in July, this year.The BRICS countries are working towards engaging ‘emerging economies’ of the developing countries such as Sri Lanka. To quote last summit proceedings: “We are open to increasing our engagement and cooperation with non-BRICS countries, in particular Emerging Market and Developing Countries (EMDCs). We aim at progressively developing BRICS into a full-fledged mechanism of current and long-term coordination on a wide range of key issues of the world economy and politics.”

Now that Sri Lanka has been granted delegate status at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, we would be eligible to get enrolled into BRICS bloc if Sri Lanka could truly demonstrate its capabilities as an emerging economy by working out and adopting  a more dynamic economic model which is in line with BRICS countries economic models. Coming back to Geneva resolutions, the time has come for Sri Lanka to tell the UNHRC to “get lost”. The people of this country elected President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Government for another term in 2010 and he will rule the country till the next election. The opportunity would be given to the people to elect a new government in 2016.

The Government headed by the President Rajapaksa should be given the task of handling this matter with the UNHRC. However he will have to demonstrate his skills and competencies in ‘quiet diplomacy’ to bring the three countries into a formidable strategic alliance not only to safeguard the Indian Ocean forward defence line, but also into developing a full-fledged mechanism for long-term coordination on key issues of the Indian Ocean economy and politics.

by Jayampathy Molligoda

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