Top rights official to join peace process

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 05 November 2002, 22:06 GMT]
(News Feature) As the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers begin to explore models for a political solution to the island's protracted ethnic conflict, calls for human rights to be given greater prominence in the deliberations look set to receive a fillip with the participation of a senior international human rights official. Responding to reporters' questions, the chief negotiators of both sides announced Sunday that Mr. Ian Martin, who has considerable experience of human rights work in Rwanda, East Timor, Bosnia and Eritrea would join the talks in future.

Asked about calls for human rights experts to be involved in the talks, Mr. Anton Balasingham, chief negotiator of the Liberation Tigers said: "With regards allowing a human rights resource person in the political negotiations, we have decided to allow an expert [to join] as early as possible."

"May be in the next session of talks we might invite an expert, one Mr. Ian Martin of Amnesty International. He has decided to help us. And definitely any framework we are going to agree will incorporate human rights norms," Mr. Balasingham said.

The Sri Lankan government's chief negotiator, Prof. G. L. Peiris added: "The government of Sri Lanka has been very happy about the participation of Amnesty International. They wrote to us, we readily agreed to their request and the involvement of Mr. Ian Martin is a matter that we no problems with at all; in fact we are very enthusiastic and very happy about it."

"Both the government and the LTTE have both subscribed to the principle with regards the application of human rights standards. So that is not an issue," Mr. Peiris said further.

"We both believe there is no conflict between the conflict resolution and human rights dimensions. If you have to solve a problem like this and the solution is to stand the test of time, obviously the solution has to be predicated on respect for and enforcement of human rights," he concluded.

Mr. Ian Martin is presently Vice President of the International Centre for transnational justice. He has some 30 years of experience in the field of human rights, both with nongovernmental organizations and as a representative of the United Nations.

He served as the Secretary General of Amnesty International from 1986 to 1992 and went on to play a central role in several international missions.

He was the human rights director of the UN/OAS Mission to Haiti in 1993 and 1995, and served as Chief to the Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda from 1995 to 1996.

He was the Deputy High Representative for Human Rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1998 to 1999. Most recently, he served as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Mission in East Timor in 1999, and from 2000 to 2001 as the Deputy Special Representative to the Secretary-General for the UN Mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea.


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