Wednesday, 16 June 2021 14:35

15.06.2021 - Dialogue with Ethnic Minority Parties is Necessary to Deal with International Pressures

There is increased international scrutiny of Sri Lanka that is critical in nature and foretells sanctions to come. A country that was ahead of almost all others in Asia at the time of independence is almost at the bottom today in terms of economic prospects. All those who governed the country to date share the responsibility for this failure. Unless there is a strong will and genuine commitment to have a unified country with law that applies to all in equal measure to all we may not see positive development in the country.

The sanctions being planned by sections of the international community cannot be overcome by non-existent strategies as the country moves from one crisis to another. The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva has set up a special monitoring unit to document past and ongoing human rights violations in Sri Lanka. The most recent manifestation of international scrutiny by the EU. Its parliament last week passed a resolution by the margin of 628 votes to 15 to hold Sri Lanka to account on a number of issues. The consequences of not heeding this EU resolution is the possible withdrawal of the GSP Plus tariff concession which would be a severe blow to Sri Lanka’s struggling economy.

The resolution that is currently before the US Congress is another indication of the unfavorable attention on Sri Lanka. The US resolution does not have any sanction mentioned in it at the moment, unlike its EU counterpart which calls for the withdrawal of GSP Plus as a last resort, but calls on the Sri Lankan government to reopen the negotiation process aimed at reaching a political solution that led to the war. It also refers to issues of missing persons, detained persons and the continuing militarization of the country. At the root of the resolutions against Sri Lanka in international forums, be they the UNHRC, the Ontario parliament, the EU parliament and the US Congress is the long unresolved issue of the ethnic conflict and its resolution by political means. 

The National Peace Council believes that resolving these root causes calls for dialogue with the representatives of the ethnic and religious minorities and their political parties. We welcome the meeting between President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the TNA as a first step in that direction which needs to be expanded to include other minority parties. The constitutional reform proposals made by the TNA to the Expert Committee on Constitutional Reform appointed by the President, the holding of provincial elections, which will enable the minority parties to have a share of governance in the country, and the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission to give a definitive account of the war, end the speculations and divisive interpretations and correct the human rights violations of the past may be matters for discussion that can lead to a unified national approach in dealing with the international community to ensure the development of the country. 

Governing Council
The National Peace Council is an independent and non partisan organization that works towards a negotiated political solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. It has a vision of a peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka in which the freedom, human rights and democratic rights of all the communities are respected. The policy of the National Peace Council is determined by its Governing Council of 20 members who are drawn from diverse walks of life and belong to all the main ethnic and religious communities in the country.