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FeaturesNewsUN-Sri LankaPress USA, UK and France to talk to China, Russia: Vidar Helgesen

Press USA, UK and France to talk to China, Russia: Vidar Helgesen

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TamilNet,19 May 2011
“I’m not the best-placed person to suggest how China and Russia could be convinced and how one could pass a resolution at the UN Security Council. One should pose this question to the governments of USA, United Kingdom and France, those who negotiate with China and Russia in New York,” said Vidar Helgesen, the highest-ranking diplomat who headed the Norwegian facilitated peace process, in a video documentary released
by the Norwegian Council of Eezham Tamils Wednesday, hinting that if the USA, UK and France are really determined China and Russia could always be negotiated to bring in a political solution to the question of Eezham Tamils. “There was a conflict before the LTTE was established; still there is a conflict even after the LTTE has been vanquished; you will not get a solution without a political solution,” Helgesen further said.

Vidar Helgesen was Deputy Foreign Minister of Norway between 2001 and 2005. He is currently the Secretary General of the Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA).

Helgesen was discussing two dilemmas: watch the video here

The International Community has a “duty” to investigate what had happened in the island. But in order to carryout the necessary legal process “a political resolution is needed at the UN Security Council,” which seems to be difficult.

“Since Sri Lanka has not ratified the International Criminal Court, the only way to engage ICC on Sri Lanka is through UN Security Council. There is no other way.”

The other dilemma – “a dilemma for Tamils is that Sri Lanka is not always on the top of the agenda as the world is full of burning issues,” Helgesen said.

However, according to Tamil political circles, the most important dilemma is the ‘selective appetite’ of the international community for chronic cases of national question. It is this weakness of the international community – failure in recognising that the question of independence of Eezham Tamils is a matter worthy of investigation and mandate of the concerned people – that is effectively exploited by the genocidal state in the island. The stand of India in this regard is a dimension added to the Security Council-related dilemma, Tamil political circles said.

The NCET video document of clippings both in English and Norwegian was in relation to the case filed by the NCETs lawyer Harald Stabell.

The topics were ranging from genocide case filed in Norway against members of command responsibility of the regime in Colombo and UN Panel report recommendation to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Ms. Jayalalitha’s stand on genocide and war crimes in the island.

Besides Vidar Helgesen, the contributors to the clippings of the documentary are Harald Stabell, the lawyer of case filed by the NCET, Dr. Panchakulasingam Kandiah, president of the NCET, Vijayshankar Asok, a Bergen university research fellow and member of the NCET and Majoran Vivekananthan, the editor of multicultural biweekly, Utrop. The document also includes a clipping of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha’s victory speech last week.

Harald Stabell, the lawyer of the NCET said the following on the genocide case:

“Maria Aas, my colleague and myself, think that the case is thoroughly documented. A genocide has taken place along with war crimes and crimes against humanity. The documentation presented proves the crimes against Tamils within a specific time-frame. Those who committed these crimes should be held responsible for their acts. These are among the most serious offences committed in the world.”

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English subtitle text of Vidar Helgesen’s interview in Norwegian follows:

The UN Expert panel has demanded independent investigations
I support the recommendations in the report
The serious conclusions of the report establish the basis for thorough investigations on war crimes and crimes against humanity
First and foremost, it is the duty of the Sri Lankan authorities to investigate the allegations
But, they have not shown real interest in doing such investigations themselves
Then, the suggestion from the UN Panels is to establish a mechanism for independent international investigations
It is a very good suggestion
The International Community should have its attention on the issue and follow it up
The IC should have a critical dialogue with the Sri Lankan authorities
Above all, the UN panel has already had a such process with Sri Lankan authorities
The UN Panel has delivered a detailed and well-documented report
A report with clear recommendations
The first thing one should do is to say yes to the recommendations and implement a mechanism for independent investigations
There conflict has been there for almost 60 years
There was a conflict before the LTTE was established
Still, there is a conflict, even after the LTTE has been vanquised
You will not get a solution without a political solution
A political solution that could end ethnic discrimination and subjugation through ensuring democracy and respecting human rights for all in Sri Lanka
A political solution demands negotiation with Tamils, and a reconciliation process is necessary
It means a totally different politics than what we see from Colombo today
The current politics of Colombo is described in UN report
The current line of Colombo’s politics carries in it the seeds for new conflict in the future
Economic Development was not the cause of the conflict in Sri Lanka
-this conflict is about human rights, rule of law and democracy for all people in Sri Lanka
One cannot build a such society without now going through the way of investigating what took place in the war, especially in the last stage of the war
Firstly, the Sri Lankan authorities should stop all human rights abuses
– the abuses that take place under the direction of the authorities themselves or paramilitary groups or the others
– this has also been pointed out in the UN report.
Secondly, Sri Lankan authorities should accept an international commission of investigation
The authorities in Sri Lanka should demonstrate their willingness to look forward and build a society that has a place for all
If at all, an international investigation takes place
– it would also be an expression that the International Community wants to do something about the situation
Unfortunately, the big question is whether any such international mechanism would be established.
There is a dilemma
On the one hand, the IC has a duty,
– under the International Humanitarian and International Human Rights
When it is a duty, it is not something that you can choose or omit to act upon
You have a duty to investigate
But, on the other hand, for a such legal process to take place,
– a political resolution is needed at the UN Security Council
Political decision at UN Security Council seems to be difficult
Again, I think that the UN panel has shown a practical way
by suggesting an international commission to determine whether Sri Lanka carries out a proper investigation
– and if not, the commission itself could carry out such investigations
It is a practical way to implement Responsibility to Protect
Since Sri Lanka has not ratified the International Criminal Court, the only way to engage ICC on Sri Lanka is through UN Security Council
There is no other way
Discussion on how this UN report has to be dealt with, takes place in New York between the five permanent members of the UN Security Council
I’m not the best placed person to suggest how China and Russia could be convinced and how one could pass a resolution at the UN Security Council
One should pose this question to the governments of USA, United Kingdom and France, those who negotiate with China and Russia in New York
All the governments could be approached. A dilemma for Tamils is that Sri Lanka is not always on the top of the agenda as the world is full of burning issues
Building alliances with human rights activist groups is important to get the UN member states to follow up the panel report.
TN

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