From what could be gathered, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has had a fruitful, cordial and frank exchange of ideas with UN Secretary General Ban-ki-Moon in New York on issues arising from the Darusman Report and allied matters and we hope the Lankan state and the UN would continue to forge ahead together on the road to complete normalization in Sri Lanka.
While there is no question that the Lankan government would continue to engage the UN constructively, it is up to the key decision-making bodies and personnel within the UN system to ensure that they continue to relate to Sri Lanka on the basis of the principles of the UN Charter, which is an important component of International Law.
It was in the fitness of things for President Rajapaksa to raise with the UN Secretary General, the issue of the purely advisory nature of the Panel Report. An year ago, the UNSG had admitted to the informal status of the Report with the President but had gone on to submit it to the formal structures of the UN as the months went by. The UNSG had admitted that a lapse in communication had occurred and this frank admission would accrue to the benefit of UN-Sri Lanka ties. What is of crucial importance is that the two sides have agreed to move on ahead on their cooperative track without in any way being constricted by these past lapses. In other words, the past is to be left behind.
Now that the two parties have arrived at a closer understanding on the issues that are currently at the heart of their ties, we believe that a considerable responsibility devolves on the UNSG to ensure that the Panel Report and the issues growing out of it, do not in any way obstruct Sri Lanka’s progress towards complete normalization and a better tomorrow. In other words, the UNSG would need to see to it that the infamous Report does not figure in any formal deliberations of the UN and its agencies.
Needless to say, it is of the utmost importance that these conditions are observed. For one thing, Sri Lanka is busy putting things on the path of normalcy and would need the complete cooperation of the UN to forge into the future.
As is well known, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) would be coming out with a comprehensive, final report on the progress it has registered in terms of meeting its mandate by mid-November and we believe the international community would be erring tragically by pre-judging the issues in this country, instead of first studying the LLRC report.
Over the months, we in this newspaper have been going more than the extra mile to highlight the positive developments which have been occurring by way of reconstruction, rehabilitation and development in general. It should be plain to see that the communities of this country are being treated with consideration and concern by the state. Besides the development drive which is being vigorously pursued in the North-East, the majority of former LTTE cadres are being rehabilitated by the state and are being re-integrated into mainstream society. Discriminatory treatment of these ex-cadres is something that the state would not be resorting to.
It is up to the state to continually highlight these and other achievements to the world community. Some state reports are already out on these important ‘pluses’ and the government would do well to distribute these documents more liberally among the international community and to continuously keep it informed about Sri Lanka’s achievements.
The international community would also need to consider the adverse political ripples its harping on the Panel Report would have, locally and internationally. While it is apparent that a considerable proportion of the Report’s contents is based on the input provided by the LTTE rump, the anti-Lanka slant in the Report would only keep ethnic chauvinists in Southern Sri Lanka in particular, busy and vociferous and frothing.
This could be one of the biggest setbacks for Sri Lanka in its onward march. Ethnic chauvinism in either Southern or Northern Sri Lanka is highly detrimental to nation-building in this country and the Report would be considered by these groups as a most handy present. If Sri Lanka is to be helped, therefore, the Report should be out of the international community’s agenda, for good.