Myth of State Sovereignty – The Uncomfortable Truth and the Way Out
Posted on April 2nd, 2010

Kumar Moshe

In a widely discussed article, legal and constitutional law expert Nihal Jayawickrama pointed out the waning importance of State Sovereignty. He correctly identified the futile attempts by the government to seek refuge behind the veil of state sovereignty every time an international body tries to intervene in Sri Lanka. State Sovereignty was an all dominant force a few decades ago. At that time it found its way into the Sri Lankan Constitution too in 1972 and 1987. But now things have changed. What I like to call as Peoples’ Sovereignty (PS) is gaining power and State Sovereignty (SS) is losing power. The concept of peoples’ sovereignty should not be confused with the general concept and wordings of state sovereignty. For instance the Sri Lankan Constitution recognizes that Sri Lankan sovereignty rests with the people. But this has no real meaning in the context of world developments. As per new developments, people are not indivisible. That means people are divisible and each of these divisions can assert sovereignty if required. However, Sri Lanka cannot lose its sovereignty just because of these global developments. Instead Sri Lanka must reassert it’s sovereignty using the modern tools and opportunities available to it.

Rise of Peoples’ Sovereignty over State Sovereignty

Obviously the concept of peoples’ sovereignty is a Western European-US concept. It was elevated to its present status to facilitate the break-up of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Having achieved this remarkable feat, this concept is being used to break-up other parts of the world into “manageable pieces”. Presence of racial divisions has been a big enabler of this. From East Timor to Bosnia it was this concept that was used to break-up nations.

However, it was not without problems. South Ossetia and Abkhazia posed the biggest humiliation for the Western bloc where this concept was used against Western interests. As expected, these western nations that created the concept, refused to accept both new nations formed under the concept of peoples’ sovereignty. As a result, this concept has lost steam to some degree at the moment. But it is not dead.

Peoples’ Sovereignty and the Right of Self Determination

Why is the Tamil Elam movement always mess with Sri Lankan sovereignty? There is a deep rooted reason for this than what meets the eye. PS which is gathering momentum has a close connection with the concept called the right of self determination. The right of self determination is the tool that advances peoples’ sovereignty. On one hand the Tamil Elam movement which is mostly overseas based, tries to dent Sri Lankan state sovereignty while on the other it tries to create Tamil peoples’ sovereignty within Sri Lanka.

Using war crimes allegations and human rights violations allegations, the Tamil Elam movement tries to put Sri Lankan state sovereignty on a collision course with new UN concepts that allows the UN to bypass it.

At the same time by holding referenda in other countries about the Vaddukoddai Resolution, it displays to the world Tamil Peoples’ desire to exercise their right of self determination.

Sri Lankans find these two concepts difficult to understand, if not amusing, because most of us are bogged down with the old, all inclusive and mighty concept of state sovereignty. We must come to grips with this sad reality. The more we ignore it, the more we remain ignorant of real world issues around us.

How to make use of peoples’ sovereignty concept to boost Sri Lankan state sovereignty?

This is the right question we should be asking because this trend is already happening in the world and we are unable to stop it. There is a good opportunity for Sri Lanka to once and for all seal the fate of Sri Lanka no matter what the popular or powerful concept is. We must make use of the concept of peoples’ sovereignty to ensure the survival of Sri Lankan state sovereignty. Just like the Tamil Elam movement, we too must use the consequences of the war to reassert state sovereignty using peoples’ sovereignty. As a consequence of the war a large number of people moved out of the warzones in the North and the East. While Sinhala and Muslim populations were chased out and totally killed by the LTTE in the North, Tamils left it voluntarily. As a result, population density on the North and parts of the East has fallen dramatically. On the other hand population density in rest of the country has risen beyond presently sustainable levels. Using these realities, government should launch mass state-aided re-colonization schemes in the North and parts of the East where land and water is in abundant supply.

This can give immediate and long term sustainable economic returns. But the biggest benefit is something totally different but essential for the survival of the nation. Once the North is adequately colonized, peoples’ sovereignty in the North and or the East would not be towards Tamil Elam. Even in the not so remote possibility of a referendum in the North and/or the East, people will reject secession. This is the only way Sri Lanka can keep it’s territorial integrity and sovereignty intact under the modern concept of peoples’ sovereignty.

Understanding the Tamil Elam demand for the right of self determination

The right of self determination works if a certain group of people in a certain geographic area want to politically determine their own future – make political decisions independently. Presence of people of the same race elsewhere is not at all an issue. For instance the fact that Tamil Nadu has 90% of world Tamils and 50% of Tamils in Sri Lanka live outside the North and the East does not in any way hinder the people in the North and the East from exercising their right of self determination. This is the legal position. The right of self determination is recognised irrespective of state sovereignty. That is although it is against state sovereignty to allow the right of self determination to a section of the people it is still upheld as valid in international law.

Tamil Elamists are holding referenda around the world, attack Sri Lankan state sovereignty and try every method under the sun to interfere in Sri Lankan affairs with this in mind.

This eventuality must be frustrated. It can only be done by a process of mass multi ethnic re-colonization. There is hardly any other way to do this. Once the North is adequately colonized, there is absolutely no way of asserting Tamil right of self determination in the North or the East. The political majority will reject Tamil Elam wholeheartedly.

Latest world developments

Although state sovereignty has eroded over the past decades, there is another movement to re-empower state sovereignty. Many nations apart from Western nations now realize that this is a trick played by the west to disintegrate their nations. Powerful nations including China, Russia, India, Middle Eastern and African nations are vehemently against the erosion of state sovereignty. They along with most other UN members are canvassing to resort the supremacy of state sovereignty. They are challenging the traditional western rule over the UN. Therefore it is very likely that in a few more decades state sovereignty is going to re-assume a higher significance. However, it is going to take time.

Cognizant of this fact, Tamil Elamists are in a mighty hurry to create a separate unit in Sri Lanka. Thereafter if state sovereignty assumes higher significance, that works for their benefit. However, Sri Lanka cannot wait till the world order changes. It may take too long. There is also the possibility that it may not take place at all if traditional economic and military powers succeed in their manyfold attempts to disrupt economic and political stability of emerging powers.

Therefore Sri Lanka must get into action now. Making good use of the effects of the war, the North must be colonized with people of all races. Landless people should be given land and Tamil racist political parties that won elections in these areas should be defeated. For that a new political majority should be created through colonization. Myths surrounding colonization has been busted by the enormous success of colonization schemes. The sooner Sri Lankan leaders fully apprehend the limits of state sovereignty, the better it is for the nation.

– Kumar Moses

2 Responses to “Myth of State Sovereignty – The Uncomfortable Truth and the Way Out”

  1. Sita Perera Says:

    Yes. But, how can we do such colonisation without an international and TNA/TULF outpouring?

    Instead of colonisation shall we call it resettlement?

  2. Sita Perera Says:

    Yes very good article

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