Upholding Humanitarian principles, key for conflict resolution- Saravanamuttu

[TamilNet, Friday, 25 May 2007, 02:05 GMT]
Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, the director of Colombo-based think tank, Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA), in a discussion titled, “Sri Lanka's Elusive Peace Process – a Role for the United States Government?” at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington, Thursday, characterized Sri Lanka as "the worst place in the world for civilians, in the 15 months," and spoke of the need for increased awareness for the humanitarian dimension to revitalize the peace process.

Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu
Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Director, CPA
The consensus which emerged during the last decade on the unviability of a military solution to conflict, the need to negotiate with the LTTE, and the merger of the NorthEast, are being overturned in the contemporary context, with potentially ominous long term consequences, Dr Saravanamuttu said.

The space for human rights violations will continue to increase as the parties pursue the military option, where at present, the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) and LTTE have become "mirror images" of each other, he said.

Dr. Saravanamuttu added, that to revitalize the peace process the two key areas to the conflict that need to be addressed are the human rights/humanitarian situation, and to make progress on a political settlement.

Regarding the humanitiarian crisis, there have been egregious violations by the GoSL and LTTE, and in the last several months 300,000 IDPs have been added to an existing 200,000, Dr Saravanamuttu said. There is no need to list "catalogue of woes," he added.

Regarding the political settlement, he said, the recent SLFP proposals were "unattractive" to moving the peace process forward, as it was a step back in terms of the unit of devolution, and made controversial with the addition of 'unitary state' due to pressure from the JVP-JHU axis.

The International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) is referred to by the GoSL as a "demonstrable initiative," but its existence demonstrates the difficulty national institutions have faced to perform impartial investigations, he said. The IIGEP does not address daily violations, and is limited to the investigations of 15 identified violent incidents, he pointed out.

Dr. Saravanamuttu said that the best option for conflict resolution is the exploration of a federal solution within a united Sri Lanka. He added that that there will never be a majority opinion for the Tamil people in Sri Lanka for secession, the LTTE cannot claim to be the sole representatives of the Tamil community.

Concluding, Dr Saravanamuttu said that change of current course of the conflict in Sri Lanka, will require increased awareness and increased support for an international dimension, international action that LTTE/GoSL take right issues seriously, and the deployment of an international human rights monitoring body, possibly a field-based commission of U.N. high commissioners.


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External Links:
CPA: Center for Policy Alternatives
CSIS:: Center for Strategic and International Studies

 

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