Justice and fair-play is paramount
Justice and fair-play are of paramount importance to all members of the world family consisting of 193 nations expecting justice and fair-play equally. It is the principle on which the United Nations was established in place of the less-effective League of Nations, in order to settle differences among nations based on ‘Dialogue, Deliberation and Consensus’.
It is agreed by all the mighty and small nations during deliberations, conventions and international gatherings that declarations and arguments alone will not achieve peace. To achieve peace, a genuine desire for peace, honesty and openness of all parties concerned are necessary.
Values, traditions and deeply-held religious convictions have nurtured the South Asian subcontinent over centuries; far above the current human right values and principles based on Western thinking. It is in this context that India and Sri Lanka have embraced the values of modern democracy and international human rights principles.
War for peace
The Sri Lankan President clearly reiterated this concept at the 66th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York in his conciliatory, sharp and appealing address as the Head of the Sri Lankan delegation.
History has shown that King Asoka the Great of India fought for peace after having conquered India in its entirety. As a result of persuasion and advice by a young Buddhist priest, he transformed himself into a kind personality with a desire for peace and loving kindness. He chose his best friend, Devanampiyatissa – the King of Sri Lanka – to send his beloved son and daughter as emissaries to propagate his message of peace.
War is bitter but inevitable for the protection and defence of citizens and nations and to suppress terrorism and illegal uprisings. Therefore war and the use of force is a necessary ingredient for long-term peaceful coexistence and defence of the nation and citizens.
Universal principle for peace and prosperity
President Rajapaksa echoed the teachings of Lord Buddha to King Lichchavei that disputes be settled based on meeting, discussion and dispersing with an atmosphere of amity and not by waging war. They were successful rulers having followed the guide to peace of amity and understanding. This is a universal principle that should be applicable to the club of the United Nations – the only world body in existence consisting of 193 sovereign and equal nations agreed to accept equality, fair play and universal justice. But the rule of law and supremacy of law has to be effective for the nation to maintain human life with peace and dignity. President Rajapaksa’s call for treatment without a degree of selectivity and equal treatment for less powerful members raised eyebrows of the fair-minded international community claiming impartiality and equal treatment.
A nation that has made the supreme sacrifice
President Rajapaksa is competent and experienced to address the world body on terror and peace as the leader who successfully eradicated the menace of terror that engulfed Sri Lanka over three decades, in a short span of three years when the world was watching in disbelief the winning of the war which they claimed to be unwinnable.
There are many other mighty and small nations which have become victims of terror, including USA, Britain, France, Iraq, Afghanistan and many other members of the nation. But Sri Lanka was attacked by the most powerful and feared terrorist organisation, which has tentacles worldwide. Though it has been completely eradicated on the ground in Sri Lanka, the front organisations worldwide are active and the network is functioning with enormous accumulated sums and with the help of the misguided Diaspora.
Battle for peace
The President’s words that battle for peace is as important and difficult as the struggle against the terrorism are absolutely correct. It takes time to construct bridges, mend fences and heal wounds and scars of unfortunate and unwanted wars which are bitter and unpleasant.
Obviously the healing and reconciliation process needs a lot of space. Other countries have taken longer periods for the healing process. It is not fair on the part of the international community to expect heal wounds and make reconciliatory steps in two years of the war that has taken place for over three decades.
Different faces of terrorism
President Rajapaksa has touched on terrorism briefly in his usual authoritative manner based on knowledge and experience. He mentioned in his speech that inconsistent standards and discriminating attitudes can internationally give a fresh lease of life to the force of terror.
Terror regimes emerge in various guises, not necessarily based on arms struggles and bloody wars. Today terrorism worldwide is emerging as the guise of front organisations with the existing network and funds collected by organised terror organisations, based in distant countries under the shade of various international and local organisations.
The victims of the fresh lease are the misguided Diaspora of Sri Lankans spread worldwide, amply nurtured by front organisations and websites. They use all modern cyber developments, technology-accrued funds and the network of front organisations to achieve their ends.
No power is immune to the menace of terror
Even the wealthiest and most powerful nations are not immune to the menace of terror which has tentacles worldwide with the international organisations and economic and political hotspots including world organisations. The USA and EU are target areas of terrorists armed with their economic and wealth with the power and the Diaspora initially settled as asylum seekers.
Today economic and political world powers are concentrated in the West though in time to come China, India and Brazil are going to be world powers. Britain, France and USA are deciding factors of the world body with veto powers and powers bestowed on them by the United Nations Charter.
Russia and China though world powers acting together are a minority before European and American world powers. After 65 years of existence of the United Nations, there is still no possibility to change the existence and outlook of the world body which is in need of drastic and immediate changes for the benefit of the world family in search of equality and fair play based on sovereignty of nations.
President Rajapaksa reiterated and appreciated the values and ideals on which the United Nations is established and the spirit of flexibility which has been a feature of the United Nations. This reflects the intention to trust and depend on the world body on the globe available for the benefit of the mankind during peace and war. There is a need to build trust and confidence in the UN and among the nations. Otherwise nations will act on their own without depending UN for guidance.
Need for changes to protect small countries
The UN Charter declares equality and sovereignty to all – small or powerful. The United Nations consist of human beings and implementation of the principles needs legislation based on fundamentals of world order of equality politically and economically. President Rajapaksa has urged the transformation of the current world and United Nations order to a more democratic system based on equality and fair-play.
President Rajapaksa was supporting the establishment of a nation state for Palestinian territory for which they have been clamouring for nearly eight decades. Sovereignty of Israel was recognised in 1948 even without defined territories, which is one of the main requirements to be a nation.
It is time that the world accepts the two nation solution and security, independence and sovereignty of Israel, with whom Sri Lanka has close and friendly relations. President Rajapaksa has been a sympathiser of the Palestine issue for decades and has been consistent in the process with the Middle Eastern friends with whom he maintains a close friendship and rapport as much as the friendship and rapport Sri Lanka has developed with African and Asian continents.
Stable peace and vibrant economy
There is absolute peace and a booming economy in Sri Lanka. The stock market is on the rise and tourism is growing fast, which has given rise to investor confidence as a result of stable peace infrastructure and rapid development.
It has become the most sought-after tourist destination and ideal breeding ground for investor and investments. There is rapid development with infrastructure being built leading to be the best era in the annals of Sri Lankan history. Therefore the world community should give Sri Lanka breathing space to move towards peace and prosperity.
The resettlement of displaced persons been 95% completed. This is the largest amount ever resettled in the recent history after the large scale humanitarian operations. Presence of armed forces in the north and east has been decreased and they are being utilised for the development and construction process. Landmines are being eliminated with the worrying concern that it would take a decade to get rid of landmines completely. This indicates the gravity of the situation and the amount of work to be done in the pipeline.
The Government is acting humanely towards the misguided youth based on compassionate justice as has been done in 1970 when the misguided youth took to arms. The Government then established rehabilitation centres to transform them into peaceful citizens and most of them are today holding high positions in Government and private sector.
The economic growth today is 22% while GDP growth is 8%. Employment has been brought down to 4.5%. These are wonderful achievements within a space of 30 months. Sri Lanka needs breathing space and little more time for peace and reconciliation.
The country has an internal effective human rights mechanism with an Independent and vibrant Judiciary, Human Rights Commission, Bribery Commission and very powerful NGOs funded and supported by the entire world. Human rights violations are promptly taken into consideration and steps are taken locally and internationally.
The LLRC – the independent commission appointed by the Government as an international commission – will release its report on 15 November 2011 with its recommendations, for which the entire world is waiting. These are good signs and good news for those who are interested and concerned about Sri Lanka. It is also noteworthy to mention that when Europe and other countries are faced with economic, political and other crises, Sri Lanka and South Asia are solid, stable and possess a unique system of protection of subjects based on Asian values.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has urged the world not to eye Sri Lanka on preconceived notions. The misguided Diaspora is misguiding some countries with their enormous wealth. But the good news is that they are realising the value of their birth country and peace and stability being bestowed after the eradication of terrorism forever.
The President has reiterated that the consensus, settlement and solution should be home-grown and home-based. Sri Lanka and India are model democracies that have proved since 1930s of their maturity in recognising franchise. He believes in grass-root committees, the wish of the people and equality.
It is not necessary for any other government organisation to impose imported missions on Sri Lanka which are alien to our culture. Importation against our wishes has brought about unpleasant results. The process for reconciliation, development, peaceful process and coexistence is fast growing, based on great cultures and heritages running back to thousands of years assimilated with a modern system of government and great thinking and religions of the West, which Sri Lanka has promptly embraced and put into practice.
Small countries should not be used as dumping yards
It is very unfair that small countries have been targeted as dumping yards for industrial and nuclear waste. Industrial waste is dumped by way of cheap goods which are sent at cheap rates by way of aid. Powerful nations do not become parties of environment conventions. They expect small countries to follow suit whilst they themselves are the main culprits of environmental pollution and global warming. These are things that small nations should get together on to bring about a solution. The World Bank and economy also needs rethinking and new strategies based on equality.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s message to the world is clear and firm that he believes in United Nations system and also the world order based on equal sovereignty and equal treatment to all.
We have come a long way for peace within a short span of time as has been done in eradication of terrorism.
Therefore, it is the duty of the world community to act on the friendly gesture for peace and peaceful co-existence of the Sri Lankan President to understand the issues in the correct perspective and work together for a peaceful, prosperous and better world and future for all citizens on the globe.
(The writer is the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.)