Friday, January 19, 2018

6:37:00 AM - No comments

India’s Foreign Policy and Attitudes towards Arms Control and Disarmament

Abdul Kalam: advocate for non-proliferation of nuclear weapons


India and Pakistan were created as two states in 1949 due to ideological differences after gaining independence. India and Pakistan has been engaged in a border dispute concerning Kashmir since independence due to fundamental ideological and political differences; the very reasons for creation of two separate states. This gave birth to the two nation theory that Muslim people and Hindu people cannot live to together governed under one country; that they are two nations. India is still reluctant to accept that Pakistan is another State because India boasts a secular and plural state while Pakistan was envisioned to be united under the Muslim faith. Due to these differences the foreign policy of India has been characterized by coercion and deterrence rather than negotiation and reassurance to promote national interests and achieve security goals. Thus, their foreign policy towards arms control and disarmament has been rather ambiguous since  the inception of their nuclear program. 

Today at the domestic level in India there is a significant Muslim population and many other ethnicities with different socio-cultural and linguistic values. However there are still secessionist movements internally such as maoist-naxalite insurgencies, Tamil Nadu issue etc. The Bangladesh War of Independence or the Bangladesh Liberation War was an armed conflict between West Pakistan (now Pakistan) and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) that resulted in Bangladesh's independence from Pakistan. Pakistan was the first modern-state founded solely on the basis of religion but Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s dream of creating a separate state for Muslims failed when East Bengal was included in the partition as they began their own linguistic-cultural opposition movement to create a new state of Bangladesh for Bengali peoples. 

India fears Pakistan but is supportive of the Bangladeshi movement as a means of deterrence on Pakistan. Although Pakistani military capabilities are not on the same level as India, it utilizes state sponsored terrorism to gain a military advantage through unorthodox means. Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is accused of providing help to the Taliban and rebels in Kashmir. It is generally accepted albeit without concrete proof that Pakistan is playing both sides working against terrorism and sponsoring it.
[i]Below is a comparison of military capabilities of India and Pakistan.
Subject
India
Pakistan
Total Military Personnel
3,468,000
1,135,000
Defense Budget
51,000,000,000
7,000,000,000
Total Aircraft
2102
951
Fighters/Interceptors
676
301
Attack aircraft
809
394
Tank Strength
4426
2924
Total Naval Strength
295
197



Against this background of conflict between India and Pakistan we see that neither India nor Pakistan has signed or ratified the NPT (Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons). India has advocated for nuclear disarmament since independence but due to tensions between India and Pakistan neither country has vehemently opposed acquiring nuclear weapons for themselves.

Jawaharlal Nehru was the first leader of India to be public and vocal about global nuclear disarmament but he proposed nuclear tests and considered that there is a role of nuclear deterrence for Indian national security and thus went ahead with nuclear tests. India’s secret service was in fact entrusted with the task of keeping the nuclear program a secret from the world. RAW was successful in keeping the nuclear program a secret from other intelligence agencies of powerful countries such as USA, China and Pakistan. The nuclear device which was a 15-kiloton plutonium device was tested at Pokhran on 18th May 1974. 

Article VI of NPT states “each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith of effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control”. However USA and Russia has not openly opposed India’s nuclear program and some form of tacit acceptance was made to accept India and Pakistan as nations with nuclear capabilities after the failure of negotiations of Partial Test Ban Treaty, and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

India has been given a waiver from Nuclear Suppliers Group in 2008 – which was a 48 member cartel group made in response for the nuclear test in 1974. There is a criticism that this waiver through an international platform has been conducive to provide India with the status of a nuclear weapon state consolidating its status in the international nuclear order. This is controversial given that India has not signed the NPT. Nuclear disarmament and nuclear acquisition of India also represented geopolitically contingent issues in the Indian Subcontinent. China fears the rise of India and the sentiment is mutual (vice versa) and thus to deter India, China has been actively helping Pakistan develop its nuclear program.

It is agreed upon by the international community that the veto powers who are recognized as already possessing nuclear powers are prohibited from helping other states acquire nuclear powers unless it is for benign purposes such as electricity generation. However this exception seems to be a pretext for countries to obtain nuclear weaponry to deter their enemies such as in the case of India. This can be evidenced through this quote: “The world has today 546 nuclear plants generating electricity. Their experience is being continuously researched, and feedback should be provided to all. Nuclear scientists have to interact with the people of the nation, and academic institutions continuously update nuclear power generation technology and safety” [ii]A. P. J. Abdul Kalam.

As mentioned above India has notably participated in disarmament dialogues debating the morality of acquiring nuclear weapons and the destruction it may cause but has pursued the goal of acquiring them under other pretexts [electricity generation, technology development]. In a 2010 speech, then national security advisor Shivshankar Menon described India’s nuclear doctrine as “no first use against non-nuclear weapon states”- however by implication this means that India could use nuclear capabilities against another State with nuclear capabilities [perhaps referring to Pakistan intending deterrence] Thus in summary India’s attitudes towards arms control and disarmament under foreign policy goals take the stance of national security at the forefront and the need to deter Pakistan to maintain a balance of power in the Indian Subcontinent.





[ii] Played a major role in India’s acquisition of nuclear powers and has authored the following books : Ignited minds unleashing the power within India, Mission India, Envisioning an empowered Nation.
References used for authoring the chapter can be accessed via :
http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a345607.pdf
https://southasianvoices.org/indias-approach-to-nuclear-disarmament-at-crossroads/

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

12:35:00 PM - No comments

Is the non-aligned foreign policy of any relevance today?

[Source: YouTube Video of Former Sri Lankan Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike Participating in the Non Alignment Movement Summit Colombo in 1976]


It is not disputed that S.W.R.D Bandaranaike was the founding father of the non-aligned foreign policy of Sri Lanka when he became Prime Minister in 1956. This was during the time when the Second World War was over and the world turned in to a tight bi-polar system dominated by two main power blocs: US led bloc emanating liberal democratic ideals and USSR emanating communist political ideals. Countries of the periphery had to decide to either join one of these two power blocs or not align themselves with any.

Prime Minister Bandaranaike included in his foreign policy objectives to engage in preventive diplomacy to bridge the gap between the two power blocs, opposition to all forms of colonialism and support to national liberation movements. The national interest at the time was to gain full independence and for this purpose he abrogated the Defence Agreement signed between the British and Ceylonese and ordered the British to vacate the military bases in Trincomalee and Katunayake.

Concept of Non-Alignment.


Till 1961 different leaders of the non-aligned movement had different interpretations of the concept and the West found it rather ambiguous and in-comprehensive. At the First non-aligned conference held in Belgrade in September 1961 a proper definition was laid down as read by Mrs. Sirimao Bandaranayake. For a country to be non- aligned following Criteria must be satisfied:

“(i) independent policy based on peaceful co-existence and non-alignment
(ii) it should have consistently supported movements for national independence
(iii) it should not be a member of multi-lateral military alliances
(iv) if it had conceded military bases these concessions should not have been made in the context of great power conflicts
(v) If it were a member of a bi-lateral or regional defense agreement, this should not be in the context of great power conflicts

Presence of power tensions among major geopolitical rivals

The purpose of establishing the non-aligned movement was not to join the cold war rivals but to become a positive form in the international community along the principles mentioned above. What the countries of the non-aligned movement had in common was that they belonged to the commonwealth and were once colonized by a super power. They received independence on a compromise achieved for their contribution to the support of the colonizer during the world wars. Today there is no cold war between Russia and the US but super power tensions exist in other forms.
Great power conflicts of today such as the South China Sea crisis, Ukraine and Syrian Crisis are some examples. In all these crises countries that were historical rivals: USA and Russia and regional hegmons such as China are involved. These countries  as reported by BBC are some of the "Geographically large, economically powerful, and militarily significant nations in modern history”. 

Geopolitical Significance of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka on the other hand is a small power which only recently became a middle income country. Powerful countries do manifest themselves through soft power approaches to influence small states for their power agendas. This statement has to be understood in light of historic and recent events and the geopolitical significance of Sri Lanka as an Island in the Indian Ocean.

During the days of the Defence and External affairs Agreement of 1948 the British made references to the strategic location of the Trincomalee port as quintessential to their maritime activities in the Indian Ocean as it is located along the major sea lanes. The Maritime Agreement with USSR in February 1962 during the Sirimao Bandaranike administration was along the same lines. During the J.R Jayewardene and Ranasinghe Premadasa administration Sri Lanka was chosen to build the Voice of America transmitting which was suspected of being used for intelligence gathering purposes and electronic surveillance of the Indian Ocean. 

During the Mahinda Rajpaksa regime China obtained the number one spot in terms of economic assistance to the country. Robert Kaplan notices that China is playing its part in the great power rivalry in the Indian Ocean by making significant contributions to ports surrounding India – Hambantota, Chittagong, Karachi, Gwadar etcetera. Adding to this, the joint statement between Sri Lanka and Japan on maritime issues makes prominent references to Sri Lanka's strategic location. During the visit of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a Chinese warship and submarine was docked at the Colombo port. These incidents point out to great power rivalry concerns.

Remaining non-aligned today

Sri Lanka very recently signed an MOU with Google which implies that geopolitical concerns are very much part of the US foreign policy agenda. Google is committed to providing universal internet to Sri Lanka through drone technology which is considered one of the unorthodox tools used to further American interests in Sri Lanka a historical parallel to which is the Voice of America transmitting station. US had never not considered the value of Sri Lanka as pivotal to furthering its interests in the Indian Ocean. Chinese involvement in the Island is an even bigger concern with the rise of China to a position of dominance in the Indian Ocean. 

Thus validity of remaining non-aligned today has not been more important in order to protect the national interests of the country which is best achieved by strengthening the relationships with our immediate neighbours: India, Pakistan, Indonesia, and the other countries of the non-aligned movement that Sri Lanka once had non-aggression pacts with. This time tensions of great power rivalry has moved closer to home because its widely believed to be between China, Russia and USA.

Sri Lanka has shown signs of non-alignment in the South China Sea dispute between China and Phillipines in a statement issued on 10th May 2014 that "disputes relating to South China Sea have to be settled bilaterally through negotiations by the concerned parties" whereby Sri Lanka does not favour any country and leaves it to the results of international arbitration, an action commendable along the lines of non-alignment.

Friday, December 29, 2017

6:29:00 AM - No comments

Understanding China’s Security Strategy in the contentious South China Sea

“Nationalism in States leads to modernization of militaries (navies, air force) to defend sovereignty and make claims for disputed maritime resources. South China Sea which is rich in resources with conflicting claims on territorial waters and islands is a bone of contention. Kaplan opines World War II was a moral struggle against fascism; the Cold War was a moral struggle against communism, the immediate post-Cold War period became a moral struggle against genocide but conflict at sea is an intellectual battle very different from battle on land enmeshing civilian population” (Kaplan, 2015)



Problem at a Glance

The South China Sea is of strategic importance to littoral countries such as China, Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam. The South China Sea is a busy international waterway, one of the main arteries of global trade worth more than $5 trillion and a rich source of hydrocarbons and natural resources. However it is a region with growing conflicts due to territorial claims by different countries with respect to Spratly and Parcels islands among others. In 2013, the Philippines raised the dispute with China to the PCA (Permanent Court Of Arbitration), saying China’s claims violated Philippines’ sovereignty under the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) but China rejected the ruling. China’s military strategy in the South China Sea encompasses militarization and two track negotiation both strategies which are abuses of its dominant power capabilities both economically and militarily. China’s growing dominion in the South China Sea is reflective of its power ambitions to become the number one sea power and is dangerous to other South East Asian States. The floating nuclear reactor and drilling of artificial islands are in violation of multiple treaty agreements pertaining to marine environmental damage and nuclear non-proliferation. In order to balance China it is important to have other powers in the picture to achieve a balance of power. Thus India and USA have a role in curtailing Chinese ambitions.

 China’s Security Strategy


Bharadwaj (2017) of the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies identifies China’s military strategies in the South China Sea as militarization and two track negotiation strategy.  Beginning with militarization, China has increased its coastguard patrolling the waters in the South China Sea which is a hard power approach. Militarization has operated at the cost of violations of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. There has been disrespect for freedom of navigation in the South China Sea owing to maritime standoffs, forcible seizure of territory, sabotage of exploration and loss of life at sea. Some examples are: 1974 Chinese seizure of the Paracels from Vietnam, killing more than 70 Vietnamese troops, 1988 clash for Spratly islands, 2012 maritime stand-off between china and Philippines for intrusions in the Scarborough Shoal, Chinese sabotage of two Vietnamese explorations etc. China has relied on state sovereignty and self-defence to justify their actions but these are ambiguous justifications because there are no confirmed decisions on the territorial disputes in the South China Sea and difficult to pinpoint when a breach of sovereignty was in place.

A far more dangerous aspect of militarization is the new nuclear dimension to the region with China setting up nuclear reactors in South China Sea and creation of artificial islands. China again justifies that they are serving a ‘benign’ purpose by securing the seas through development of infrastructure to secure trade. China is already considered an existing nuclear power with veto in the United Nations and it is using this as an advantage to complete its one belt one road initiative aimed at domination of the seas as the world’s number one sea power. At an age of nuclear non-proliferation and China’s claims to support the anti-nuclear efforts the duality of China’s power ambitions are obvious. This is not a peaceful rise of China but an attempt to total domination of the South China Sea with hard power projections.

The second strategy identified is two track negotiations which is a soft power approach. China aims to engage in bilateral negotiations with countries and push forward reforms through the ASEAN. A realist assumption of relative power points out that China’s power capabilities in economic and military terms are higher than the rest of ASEAN countries. Thus in two –track negotiations there is asymmetric negotiation with China dictating terms. China has an advantage over other countries in both soft and hard power approaches. This can be seen with China pushing forward a code of conduct for the South China Sea. China has previously boycotted arbitration tribunals on South China Sea dispute and openly disregarded an International Court of Justice advisory opinion which shows its minimum respect for international law. Codes of Conduct are not binding as bilateral agreements and this does not create serious obligations with violations of a code resulting in sanctions.

Fearing Chinese domination it is only natural for countries such as Vietnam and Philippines to warm towards the USA to balance China. The Philippine president Duterte had fallen out of cordial relationship with USA after president Obama accused him of violations of human rights in his war on drugs in Philippines. Very recently Duterte warmed up to the USA since Chinese aggressions can no longer be tolerated. Philippine’s mutual defence treaty with USA calls forth the power to assist in case of conflict at sea. Vietnam and India had also entered a joint energy exploration project in South China Sea which has been condemned by Chinese media. The Diego Garcia base is now of very high importance to other ASEAN countries with a stake in balancing China by appealing to extra regional powers such as USA and India. (Council of Foreign relations, 2017)


Finally we may conclude by reiterating a balance of power is the only solution to prevent an escalation of conflict in the South China Sea and for international lobbying of anti-nuclear activity in the region because of dangers of militarization as discussed above. As Kaplan notes China is unlikely to engage in a military showdown with the United States in the foreseeable future and thus US engagement in South China Sea is vital to preserve a balance of powers. At the same time the international paradigm is shifting from a unipolar world to multi-polarity. Against this backdrop a new balancer such as India must be involved in the region to prevent Chinese power escalations. The freedom of navigation in the seas is a norm and international custom since the days of Hugo Grotius now embedded in the UNCLOS. We see in the South China Sea dispute there is minimum regard to multilateral treaty obligations. The lack of a permanent arbitration tribunal to govern the seas with compulsory jurisdiction has resulted in unresolved conflicts.

References
Kaplan, R. (2015). Asia's Cauldron: The South China Sea and the end of a stable pacific. 1st ed. New York: Random House USA Inc.
Foreign Policy (2011). The South China Sea is the future of conflict. [online] Available at: http://foreignpolicy.com/2011/08/15/the-south-china-sea-is-the-future-of-conflict/ [Accessed 16 Dec. 2017].
http://www.ipcs.org/article/china/chinas-maritime-strategy-in-the-south-china-sea-5319.html
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-pacific-13748349

6:11:00 AM - No comments

The fight against terrorism: Is Trump and Putin in the right track? (with reference to the issue in Syria)

Source: IHS Conflict Monitor, 2017


President’s Trump’s election pledge was to eradicate the Islamic Levant and rid the world of terrorism. Trump has insisted that he would be tougher on terrorism than Obama and has kept his word as witnessed by the escalated attack on ISIS strongholds. Trump had also expressed willingness to combat terrorism with the cooperation of Russia. “Terrorism is an evil that must be fought jointly.” Trump expressed in a statement “I also believe that we could find common ground with Russia in the fight against ISIS. They too have much at stake in the outcome in Syria, and have had their own battles with Islamic terrorism’’ Ever since the 9/11 attacks, Russia has responded to terrorism to purportedly reconcile its security interests with the USA. It could be argued however that a Russian and US coalition towards countering terrorism is a flawed policy owing to the ideological conflicts the two countries had always engaged in.

Syria in the fight against terrorism is an important point of contention among various powers. Syria has a crippled political structure and is a failed state due to terrorism and militant movements. Countries such as Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Jordan, the Netherlands and the UK have joined US efforts in air strikes against the ISIS infested territories in both Syria and Iraq. However the Russian involvement in the region is rather unsavoury because of Russia’s ambiguous relationship with Syria.

Russia has expanded military and diplomatic approaches in the Middle -East to preserve autocratic regimes as a means of countering terror. President Assad of Syria accused of massive abuses of human rights is in power owing to the support rendered by Russia. Syria seems geopolitically significant to Russia to influence the Middle-east. On the other hand, for Russia, supporting a dictator such as Assad abroad could help strengthen his own elective dictatorship at home (referring to Moscow). Russian involvement in Syrian affairs is thus sinister owing to its own questionable actions such as conducting air attacks on target ISIS groups as identified by Russian intelligences but also working alongside Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iran’s Quds Force. (foreign policy, 2017)

President’s Trump’s on the other hand pledged to eradicate the Islamic Levant and rid the world of terrorism. President Trump has insisted that he would be tougher on terrorism than Obama and has kept his word as witnessed by the escalated attack on ISIS strongholds. Trump had also expressed willingness to combat terrorism with the cooperation of Russia. Trump’s military strategy in dealing with Islamic Levant has been to delegate attack decisions even to lower chains of command in the US army and target even foot soldiers on the ISIS in battle. Trump administration has been aggressive on the Levant. According to the U.S. Air Forces Central Command , USA had bombed ISIS locations including safe havens more than 5000 times which has been “the most of any month in the three-year campaign to defeat ISIS’’.

Although he may seem successful abroad, this does not mean USA is not susceptible to attack at home despite the Muslim travel ban which he had devised on security reasons. Trump has reportedly expanded his executive order on travel ban to the US adding more countries to the list that does not comply with American security standards. Very recently as reported by the homeland security department there have been domestic budget cuts in vital areas of US national security ‘$568 million in cuts from counterterrorism programs’. These cuts include Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response teams which are deployed to train stations, subways, ports, bus stations, and truck rest areas to respond to terrorism. Such cuts are paving way to prioritise the wall Trump is building to fence off Mexico.

Trump’s strategy could be inferred as militarily defeating the ISIS abroad and creating security domestically in US by building walls to keep immigrants away entering a policy of isolation from the world with minimum commitment to taking care of refugees among other multilateral commitments. This security strategy could be successful only if the USA does not get attacked as 9/11 in the near foreseeable future. It is opined that Trump’s military engagement in countering terror is very costly and burden of such costs must be shared with other countries that has a stake in fighting terrorism abroad. (Nationalinterest.org, nd)  For this purpose it is wise for the USA to invest in USAID program to bolster diplomacy and soft power approaches such as “multilateral institutions and civil-society partners, all of which are critical to sustaining long-term rebuilding efforts in fragile areas” However Trump’s policy has been to lessen the number of grants given to foreign aid programs.

Although Trump’s foreign policy towards countering terrorism is clear his overall foreign policy is a vague mush. The rise of Islamic fundamentalism has exacerbated terrorist activities of the Islamic Levant operating in Iraq and Syria (although dictatorship of Saddam Hussein was eradicated and leadership of Al Qaeda annihilated; the rise of Levant could be a direct result of American foreign policy failure in the region) Although Obama administration secured a cordial relationship with important Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia, Trump’s blatant Statements about enforcing oil deals with the Gulf States could compromise a cordial relationship with the region.

With reference to the situation in Syria it could be observed the country controlling Syria could influence the rest of the Muslim world in the Middle-east and eventually Russian and US foreign policy interests in the region will clash. A joint Counter-terrorism coalition of US and Russia may not be a long-lasting endeavour.  Pondering about Russian ambition in the Middle East further, USA is urging Assad to step down with accountability for crimes committed against his own people while Russia vetoes every Security Council resolution probing investigation to Syrian human rights situation.  Although Russia and USA have expressed a mutual desire to curb terrorism its foreign policy interests are divergent and it remains unclear how it will clash in the future.

References

5:48:00 AM - No comments

Navigating the Allegations of War Crimes and Genocide to Reconcile Relations with Major Powers

Source: http://www.the-platform.org.uk/
“In a war against terror or any war at that matter there are casualties, no war on land could occur without casualties

During the last stages of the war, Sri Lankan state media documenting the action reported that the Sri Lankan army was engaged in a humanitarian effort to rescue thousands of Tamil civilians forcibly held by the LTTE as human hostages. While this is a true story, Rajapaksa-led government pushed forth with the agenda of finishing the war once and for all no matter the cost. The decision at the time was backed by [1]USA and India due to relentless pursuit of the government at the time committed to ending terrorism. During the last stage of the battle there have been alleged bombings on civilian buildings and even hospitals. At the ground level, the Sri Lankan armed forces were reportedly driven into shelling hospitals from inside which LTTE combatants had been shooting at the army using human shields.

Post 2009 there have been international pressures to probe investigations into war crimes by European Union which [2]imposed sanctions and United States which sponsored a UN resolution on investigation into Sri Lanka. Post war such international pressures were resisted as far as China and Russia backed the Sri Lankan government since India too had to act against Sri Lanka owing to domestic pressures by Tamil Nadu. The Channel 4 documentary ‘Killing fields of Sri Lanka’ brutally depicted violence that occurred in the no fire zone. Although the documentary is not permissible evidence of War Crimes enforceable in courts it served its purpose in shocking the world creating international pressure to investigate. Shyam Tekwani (Indian photojournalist that documented the war on both sides) opines that sensationalized pieces of journalism are only half-truths but not a correct picture into events that had transpired during the course of the war.

Tamil nationalist politicians of the likes of NPC leader Vignesvaran reiterate the genocide rhetoric to preserve an elitist preponderance in Tamil leadership while opinions on human rights among Tamil communities themselves could point towards the opposite. According to (Butenis, 2010) “the Sri Lankan Tamils were more concerned with improving their rights, freedoms and economic prospects…they believed pushing for accountability was unrealistic and counter-productive” This observation is true considering the majority of Sinhalese and Muslim populations of Sri Lanka were deeply victimized due to actions of the LTTE terrorists. So were the Tamils who were oppressed under a fascist rule of its leader committed to a ruthless course.  However, post-war there has been negative impacts on Sri Lankan commitment to human rights due to rise of Buddhist nationalism such as Bodhu Bala Sena, enforced disappearances and killings and also illegal land grab with minimal commitment to economically develop war torn areas to achieve holistic peace.

Although relationships with India and EU improved whereas trade is concerned, Sri Lanka’s commitment to transitional justice is haltered with lack of progress in constitutional reforms, progress on devolution, and amendments to Prevention of Terrorism Act 1978 which has enabled enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions on suspicion of terrorism. Sri Lanka is party to the following international treaties: Convention on the Rights of the Child, Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, International Covenant in Civil and Political Rights, international Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and United Nations Convention against Torture. It is time that national legislature is enacted to be consistent with these international commitments. Especially if a prosecution model for war crimes were set-up, some of the convention obligations enable terrorist activity to be convicted as crimes: example bombing of Temple of Tooth Relic and conscription of child soldiers.

International pressures that reiterate accountability for war crimes could be heavily backed by the Tamil diaspora who are not part of the conflict during the last stages of the war, their reasons for accountability in Sri Lanka may not align with grassroots realities of Sri Lankan Tamils who have lived and suffered the war throughout. Therefore it is highly important that diaspora pressures must be treated with caution since it could serve as an impediment to the peace process. As of recently, the United Kingdom identifying the Sri Lankan peace process is stalled with genocide allegations, lobbied to the United Nations Human Rights Council to accept 6,500 as the estimate of civilians kills instead of Darusman report alleging 40,000. Lord Naseby’s report and Sir Desmond Lorenz de Silva QC’s support now has been vital in reducing international pressures on human rights but to seek fair political settlement to the benefit of both majority and minority ethnic groups in Sri Lanka.

References




[1] Although several UN representatives visited Sri Lanka to discuss a ceasefire Rajapaksa continued with military engagement overriding all international pressures. In the defence of Sri Lanka, a military solution was inevitable due to terrorist activity of the separatist rebel tigers that engaged in forcible recruitment of child soldiers and trained them to be suicide bombers. It was the LTTE that violated the ceasefire of 2002 during which a political settlement could have been negotiated if not for the arrogance of its leader Prabhakaran who was overconfident in gaining a military victory against the government for cessation. During the last stages of the war the fanatical and desperate tigers amidst inevitable military attack by government forces used human shields to protect themselves. However it remains a mystery in this war without evidence whether LTTE combatants surrendered and if so how they were dealt with.
[2] In 2010, the EU withdrew GSP+ status for Sri Lanka due to its bleak human rights landscape. To maintain preferential GSP+, it would have to comply with the 27 international conventions covered by the GSP+ scheme, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention Against Torture (CAT). It told Sri Lanka that several sections of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) were draconian and inconsistent with international legal obligations. The new government in 2015 reapplied for GSP plus with a commitment to create a transitional justice mechanism.