De-link Tokyo aid from globalization agenda say scholars, NGOs

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 10 June 2003, 16:19 GMT]
The needs assessment for spending funds pledged by donors for development and reconstruction in Sri Lanka this week should be de-linked from the globalisation agenda of the super power said two civil society groups at the conclusion of the two-day aid conference in Tokyo Tuesday. In a statement issued from Tokyo Tuesday they said the blue print for economic development presented to the donors by Colombo would exacerbate poverty in the countryside.

Sri Lanka’s opposition and several local academics have criticized the ‘neo-liberal policies underlying the larger agenda of the Tokyo conference’, which, according to one scholar, “demonstrably increase social inequality with a high potential for a new cycle of conflict”.

The following is the full text of the statement issued Tuesday by the International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination andRacism (IMADR) and Inter-Religious Peace Foundation (IRPF) in Tokyo:

The International Movement Against All Form of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) and Inter-Religious Peace Foundation welcome the efforts taken by the international community to bring peace to Sri Lanka. The Norwegian facilitation and the hosting of the Tokyo Conference on Reconstruction and Development of Sri Lanka by the Japanese government have indicated the commitment of the international community to assist the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE to resolve the ethnic conflict through discussion and negotiation.

Nevertheless we wish to express our concern regarding the following after monitoring the process in Tokyo.

1. We are deeply concerned that the LTTE the biggest stakeholder has not attended the Tokyo Donor Conference. The international community and the civil society within Sri Lanka and outside has to intervene to help the LTTE and the government to resume peace talks as soon as possible. The root cause/s that made LTTE withdraw from the peace talks must be addressed forthwith. In this regard the international community will have to give serious consideration regarding the de-proscription of the LTTE.

2. The Sri Lankan government will have to show its political commitment with the establishment of an interim administration for the North and East. This issue is not merely a matter of effective delivery but is much related to the ownership of a process.

3. The Sri Lankan economy has been formulated according to the World Bank recipe for almost two decades, which endorsed the globalisation agenda of (the) economic superpower in the world. But such formula has not been able to address the increasing in poverty and unemployment like many other countries in the global south. As shown in the Human Development Report of the UNDP, globalisation has contributed to increase (sic) the gap between rich and poor all over the world. Hence it is alarming to note that the World Bank and other multi-lateral agencies are pursuing the same policies and the ‘Regaining Sri Lanka’ policy of the government of Sri Lanka is also following the same pattern without critically examining where they have faltered in relation to the progress of Sri Lanka. It would be an over simplification to say that Sri Lanka could not progress because of the ethnic conflict. Other factors of corruption and politicization of the decision-making and delivery systems too has contributed to the slowing down of growth.

4. Profit earning public enterprises have been handed over to multi–national conglomerates to keep up to the dictates of the market economy. Agriculture and fisheries received no attention during the past several years as the governments in power pursued World Bank policies thus making the countryside poverty stricken. Hence as needs are assessed lives of people in these areas of work should receive high priority. The so called poverty alleviation strategies of the World Bank has only made people dependent on meagre handouts of the government that hardly cope with their day to day needs.

5. Two million people in Sri Lanka filed a petition requesting the government and the LTTE to ban anti-personnel landmines. We call upon the parties to the conflict to accede to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (The Ottawa Convention), and the deed of commitment “Geneva call.” We call upon the donor countries to urge the implementation of the same.

6. Though the Japanese government and the Sri Lanka government have called upon the civil society to become active partners no resources and assistance was made available to the civil society to join this meeting. Those NGO representatives who are present here have been independently supported by their organizations while many others interested could not come due to resource constraints. Hence the commitment given to civil society participation must be expressed in active manner in the future. It is important that the Peace Secretariat in Sri Lanka develop a closer liaison with the civil society stakeholders in all districts with greater emphasis given to community-based organizations particularly in the North and East.

7. We call upon the LTTE to resume the peace talk with the Sri Lankan government to work out the framework necessary to establish the interrim administration in the North and East, giving also the recognition to the Muslim population residing in the Northeast.

Nimalka Fernando, President, IMADR
Hideki Morihara, Secretary-General, IMADR
Ven. Assaji Thero, IRPC


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