Feature Article

"United Sri Lanka," cannot be accepted as a pre-negotiation parameter - Rudrakumaran

[TamilNet, Monday, 10 July 2006, 01:11 GMT]
During peace negotiations in South Sudan, Northern Ireland, Montenegro and Bougainville, the international community did not set "united country" as a pre-negotiation parameter for the expected outcome of a negotiated solution. The international community's stand that solution to the Tamil national question should be found within a united Sri Lanka, runs contrary to the current international practice, and to the law of self-determination, argued Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran, legal advisor to the Liberation Tigers, in a paper presented at a conference held in Zurich in April. The paper was released by the organizers, the Centre for Just Peace and Democracy (CJPD), Sunday.

PDF IconLTTE's flexibility in the current peace process

Mr. V. Rudrakumaran said that partial blame for the impasse in Sri Lanka's peace process rests with the international community.

Extracts from the paper follow:

The Sri Lankan leaders repeatedly claim that they had established an "international safety net" designed to surround and contain the Tamils' struggle for self-determination.

The international community has failed to repudiate these claims and disassociate itself from the stated partisan goals of such a "safety net".

The most damaging aspect of the international community's action was its insistence that a solution should be found within a unified Sri Lanka.

Such a position is not only contrary to the law of self-determination, which states that self-determination can be exercised intra alia through the establishment of an independent state. It is also contrary to the current international practice with respect to national conflicts in other parts of the world.

The Machakos Protocol, signed with the facilitation of the US, the UK, Norway, and Italy, recognized the South Sudanese people's right to form an independent state. The Protocol provides for a referendum in South Sudan after six years on the question of remaining within the state of Sudan or forming a separate state.

Similarly, the Good Friday agreement allows the people of Northern Ireland to determine their political future through a referendum every seven years. Along these same lines, the Serbian - Montenegrin Agreement recognizes the Montenegrin people's right to form an independent state and provides for a referendum on this matter after three years.

The Papua New Guinea- Bougainville Agreement allows Bouganville to hold a referendum between ten and fifteen years to ascertain the political aspirations of the Bouganville people.

South Sudan, Northern Ireland, Montenegro and Bougainville are not relics of colonialism. The above conflicts arose in non-colonial contexts.

The international community did not oppose the Machakos Protocol on the grounds that it infringed on the sovereignty or the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom.

It did not oppose the Serbia - Montenegro Agreement on the grounds that it infringed on the sovereignty or the territorial integrity of Serbia.

It did not oppose the Papua New Guinea - Bougainville agreement on the grounds that it violated the sovereignty or the territorial integrity of Papua New Guinea.

The international community did not set any pre-negotiation parameters on what the outcome of peace negotiations should be in any of the above-mentioned conflicts.

Recently, the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan stated that "Talks on whether Kosovo should remain part of Serbia or be given independence should start soon."

Thus, although the international community employs concepts such as "earned sovereignty," "phased out sovereignty," and "conditional sovereignty" in the above conflicts, its insistence that the Tamil - Sinhala conflict on the island of Sri Lanka be resolved within a united country creates a perception that the international community is applying a double standard.

Even purely from the point of view of negotiation, leaving the options of "earned sovereignty," "phased out sovereignty," and "conditional sovereignty" off the negotiation table will reduce the incentive for the Sinhala Nation to put forward a meaningful power-sharing proposal or even to take the peace process seriously.

On the other hand, having these options on the table will increase the confidence of the Tamils in the fairness of the current peace process.

The Seminar in Zurich, "Envisioning New Trajectories for Peace in Sri Lanka", was organized by the CJPD in collaboration with the Berghof Foundation for Conflict Studies.The CJPD is an organization formed with a team of diaspora Tamil intellectuals and international experts in the field of conflict resolution.


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