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FeaturesNewsA Post-mortem on Navi Pillay’s visit : The diplomatic war is more dangerous and difficult than the military war

A Post-mortem on Navi Pillay’s visit : The diplomatic war is more dangerous and difficult than the military war

Udaya Gammanpila ( JHU)
The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) warned about the adverse impacts of Navi Pillay’s visit very much before her arrival. We challenged her credibility exposing her controversial past, citing authentic sources. A diplomat told me that if we had made our exposures about her past before her appointment as the High Commissioner for Human Rights, she would have most probably lost this prestigious post. Our criticism was not limited to Navi Pillay. It was directed at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) as well.

The UNHRC is an instrument used by the West to tame or punish weaker nations. The common belief is that it is fully funded by the United Nations as it is the human rights arm of the world organization. However, contrary to the common belief, almost two third of its budget is provided by Western nations. Interestingly, the USA and Norway, two nations which lead anti-Sri Lanka campaign, are the two leading donors to the UNHRC. Navi Pillay, the head of the UNHRC, is under obligation to please the West for her survival. In this backdrop, Sri Lanka must be insane to expect justice and fair play from the UNHRC.

Sri Lanka should have exposed the partisan conduct of Pillay and the notorious history of the UNHRC and refused to co-operate with either. Instead, Sri Lanka adopted a policy of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds, creating confusion among the nations which stood by Sri Lanka in its hour of need. Sri Lanka criticized the UNHRC and thereafter undertook to implement different recommendations made by the rights body. Similarly, Sri Lanka invited Madam Pillay to visit Sri Lanka after attacking her biased conduct, instead of challenging the credibility of the UNHRC and taking a non-co-operative stand as Israel did in the past.
The 24th Session of the UNHRC is presently underway in Geneva. Pillay is expected to make a speech about Sri Lanka during the latter part of the session. There is no doubt that she would attempt her best to taint a negative image of Sri Lanka in her speech. In the past, she made an attacking speech on Sri Lanka based on the Darusman Report. However, the acceptance of her speech was very low, as the Darusman Report itself was based on hearsays.
Pillay can speak with authority

Unlike previous sessions, Pillay can speak about Sri Lanka with authority since she recently visited the country, in what has been described as her longest official tour. She visited the North and East including the battlefields. She talked to the President, ministers, leader of opposition, political party leaders and top bureaucrats. She exchanged views with media, members of non government organizations and the general public. Hence, she has now credentials to make an acceptable speech about Sri Lanka. As such the danger posed by her to Sri Lanka’s image is very much higher than Channel 4.
Sri Lanka enjoyed the support of the majority of the international community soon after the end of the war. It began to slide with the adverse publicity given by international media, accusing the government of committing war crimes at the tail end of the war. The Tamil separatists began to lobby politicians and bureaucrats of western capitals with sympathetic stories about these alleged war crimes. The Darusman Report added fuel to this anti-Sri Lanka campaign. Nevertheless, Sri Lanka was able to survive in the international fora without much difficulty. However, Pillay’s speech at the 24th session would cause irreparable damage to Sri Lanka’s image, because of the suicidal invitation extended her to visit Sri Lanka.

Strategic blunders committed by Sri Lanka in international relations in the recent past clearly reflect its ignorance about the present trends in the global field and the influence wielded by Tamil separatists. Hence, it is worth exploring why Sri Lanka is in the limelight of Human Rights bodies.
Shifting of battle fields

A common belief in Sri Lanka is that we defeated Tamil separatism on 19 May 2009. However, it is not true. Instead, two fundamental changes took place in Tamil separatism. Firstly, the battlefield was shifted from Vanni to Geneva. Secondly, the military war turned to a diplomatic war. Tamil separatism continues in a different mode at a higher speed.

In fact the Tiger was not in the North of Sri Lanka. It was all over the world. Its head was in Nordic countries. The front legs were in Canada and Germany and the hind legs were in South Africa and Australia. Depending on the body spread all over the world, the Tigers used to wag its tail in the North. That was Tamil separatist terrorism for us. In this light, what we did in 2009 was merely cutting off the tail of the Tiger.

The Tiger without the tail is more dangerous now. It is angry and vows revenge. It wins the sympathy of the Western world. As a result, powerful nations such as the USA and international organizations such as the UNHRC have come forward to battle with us on behalf of the Tiger.

The LTTE militarily captured the Vanni region in 1990. We used the military might to capture it back in 2009. Nobody questioned this, as we have a right to grab back whatever was forcibly taken from us. If we had handed over the region to the LTTE legally and diplomatically, we never would have taken it back. Hence, the diplomatic war is more dangerous than the military war. Presently, the Tamil separatists have declared a diplomatic war against Sri Lanka with the support of Western superpowers.

They attacked us with modern weapons such as resolutions at international events and adverse publicity in the world media. International isolation and economic embargo are more dangerous and effective weapons than nuclear bombs. Hence, if we reluctantly agree to constitutionally grant autonomy in the North and East, as envisaged by the separatists, we will never be able to get the provinces back.

In this backdrop, the diplomatic war is more dangerous and difficult than the military war. Hence, we should be more prepared in this war than in the previous war. We needed brave and strong soldiers for the military war. What we need in the diplomatic war are diplomats with knowledge and lobbying skills. They should be armed not with guns and bombs but with knowledge in different subjects such as history, politics and law. As we captured the enemy camps in the military war, we have to win the support of international organizations, influential nations, human rights NGOs and the world media.

Diplomatic war

Ministry of Defence was the nerve centre of the military war. Similarly, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is now the nerve centre of the diplomatic war. Hence, the entire nation should rally around the MEA in the name of the motherland, ironing out the petty differences. In this context, human rights are the most important subject.

Unfortunately, it has become nobody’s child since it has not been gazetted with any particular ministry. The government appoints a special human rights envoy on the eve of UNHRC sessions. He is not prepared at all, as the appointment is sudden. He makes a lot of commitments at the session and ends his role. There is no secretariat to follow up the commitments until the next session. In light of the above, we have become a laughing stock before the international community. Dealing with human rights in an ad-hoc manner is suicidal for the nation. On the contrary, this subject should permanently vested with the MEA. It can then engage in these issues on a fulltime basis with the support of its network spread throughout the world.

A Secretariat for Human Rights should be established under the MEA with the chairmanship of the Minister of External Affairs and the participation of the Secretary to the President and Secretaries of Defence, Treasury, External Affairs, Police, Justice and Media. Academics, professionals, veteran diplomats and members of the business community should also be members of the governing council. It should meet weekly and review its operations in the diplomatic war. The President should meet the council at least once a month to review the progress.

Unless we adopt a professional approach to tackle the present international crisis, we may lose in the diplomatic war what we gained in the military war.

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