Feature Article
3RD LEAD (Additions)

Dubious "Sovereignty" defence

[TamilNet, Sunday, 27 September 2015, 19:36 GMT]
Genocidal Sri Lanka's leading politicians and diplomats, past and present, have used sovereignty as a defense against international "intervention" in conducting investigations of international crimes: war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. While sovereignty, defined as "supreme authority within a territory" underpins the political authority bestowed to modern nation states and provides status for the state to be member of the world comity of nations, this authority is not absolute. As a signatory to United Nations charter, article 6 and 7, ‘Sri Lanka’ has accepted to compromise on its sovereignty, related to matters of international security and commission of international crimes.

‘Sri Lanka’ has consistently refused to sign the Rome treaty that governs the obligation to be accountable to the International Criminal Court (ICC) if crimes of humanity or war- crimes are alleged to have committed by a signatory state. The Prosecutor of the ICC can use his Article 15 proprio motu powers to authorize the commencement of investigations.

Non-signatories to the Rome statute can still be referred to the ICC if the Security Council takes up the case through referrals from the Secretary General.

Or, thirdly, according to Prof. Boyle, an expert in international law, the United Nations General Assembly (GA) can establish an International Criminal Tribunal for Sri Lanka (ICTSL) as a "subsidiary organ" under U.N. Charter Article 22, and organized along the lines of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY), which was established by the Security Council.

Thus, the sovereignty argument is untenable in these circumstances.

UN has recently redefined what Sovereignty is and according to the new guidelines limitations to sovereignty is noted as "Sovereignty no longer exclusively protects States from foreign interference; it is a charge of responsibility that holds States accountable for the welfare of their people." This was formulated after Rwandan Genocide and while creating a post named 'Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide.’

In addition to Sri Lanka's obligations under UN charter, the OISL report also has failed to recognize one aspect of sovereignty as pursued by Eezham Tamils where Tamils have consistently demanded that they be treated as equal partner in all international attempts to reach a political solution.

The origins of Sri Lanka’s long festering conflict lie in genocidal Sri Lanka's unitary constitution which vests the exercise of sovereignty solely in the hands of Sinhala Buddhists.

But, Tamils' demand for self-determination in the past three decades posed persistent challenges to Sri Lanka's sovereignty. Tamils have consistently articulated in 1969 (Kodeeswaran challenge to language act), 1972 (Tamil boycott of Republic), 1975 (By-election of SJV Chelvanayagam), 1976 (Vaddukoddai resolution), 1977 (General election), 1985 (Thimpu talks) and 2003 (ISGA), with increasing vigor, that they have never acceded their sovereignty to the ‘Sri Lankan’ state. Ultimately, by refusing to surrender to the 2009 military offensive and fighting to death, the LTTE asserted again the Tamils right to sovereignty.

However, U.S. led UN resolution has made the sovereignty argument relatively moot, allowing Colombo to continue with the farcical "local mechanism" of investigating criminal conduct where the alleged criminals are also from the ruling class and the military of the unitary State of Sri Lanka.

U.S.'s signature in the UN resolution in the effort to placate the genocidal Sri Lankan state is clear from the ambiguous language that allows Sri Lanka to escape scrutiny of its criminal conduct in the Eelam war.

"The State Department's intervention to save Rajapakse in the U.S. Courts in 2013, and taking the lead to shape the operating paragraphs of the 2015 UN resolution toothless, symbolize the human rights double standard at the center of the Obama administration's foreign policy, preaching its inviolability vis-a-vis nation states that are innimical to its geopolitical interest, while pardoning the states such as Sri Lanka even for horrendous international crimes including the use of rape as weapon of war," Tamils Against Genocide [TAG], a US-based rights group which seeks legal redress for war-affected Tamils, said of the recent deliberations in the UN to push the ‘Sri Lanka’ resolution.

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External Links:
UN.org: The Responsibility to Protect



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