Sri Lanka : UN, US, UK, Canada, EU& India violating Principle of Non-Interference in Internal Affairs of Sovereign States
Posted on May 22nd, 2016

Shenali D Waduge

Westphalian sovereignty is the principle of international law that each nation state has sovereignty over its territory and domestic affairs, to the exclusion of all external powers, on the principle of non-interference in another country’s domestic affairs, and that each state (no matter how large or small) is equal in international law. However none of these fancy notions written and general accepted as customary international law are realistically being practiced. The examples of how Sri Lanka has been subject to interference in its internal affairs can be realized by going through the laws in place.

Violations taking place

  • Article 15 (8) of the Covenant of the League of Nations and the Montevideo Convention on Rights & Duties of States of 1933 together with the Additional protocol on Non-intervention of 1936 prohibited ‘interference with the freedom, the sovereignty or other internal affairs or the processes of the governments of other nations’
  • Article 2.4 of the UN Charter – prohibition of the threat or use of force in international relations
  • Article 2.7 of the UN Charter explicitly states that unless international peace is threatened ‘nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the UN to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter”; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter Vll.
  • Chapter VII is concerned with action with respect to threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, and acts of aggression”.
  • It is clear from article 39 that it is a matter for the Security Council (SC) to determine whether any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression  exists and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security.”
  • Article 99 – The Secretary General may bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.” (The UNSG’s legal advisors are using this Article to give credence to the international investigation. However the UNSG can only go the UNGA or UNSC if there is a case to show that Sri Lanka was a ‘threat to the maintenance of international peace & security – he appointed the PoE without informing or obtaining the official approval by both)
  • Article 97 establishes the Office of the Secretary General, as follows: The Secretary General shall be the chief administrative officer of the organization.”[38]  Article 98, meanwhile, sets out or defines the Secretary General’s functions, as follows:  The Secretary General shall act in that capacity in all meetings of the General Assembly, of the Security Council, of the Trusteeship Council, and shall perform such other functions as are entrusted to him by these organs.” (the UNSG cannot act without the explicit approval of the UNGA or the UNSC)
  • Article 100

o   In the performance of their duties the Secretary General and the staff shall not seek or receive instructions from any other authority external to the Organization.  They shall refrain from any action which might reflect on their position as international officials responsible only to the Organization.

o   Each Member of the United Nations undertakes to respect the exclusively international character of the responsibilities of the Secretary General and the staff and not to seek to influence them in the discharge of their responsibilities

o   UNSG violated above Article as he has no legal basis for his actions. Both he and the UNHRC head do not have a prima facie case for war crimes even after a PoE, a UNHRC investigation and countless other proxy investigations held during the past 7 years.

  • UN General Assembly ‘Declaration on the inadmissibility of intervention in the domestic affairs of states and protection of their independence and sovereignty’ (UNGA resolution 2131 (XX) 1965) adopted in 1965 that ‘full observance of the principle of non-intervention of States in the internal and external affairs of other states is essential to the fulfilment of the purposes and principle of the UN”.
  • 24 Oct 1970 General Assembly adopted Declaration on the Principles of International Law concerning friendly relations and co-operation among states in accordance with the UN Charter which includes ‘the principle concerning the duty not to intervene in maters within the domestic jurisdiction of any State in accordance with the Charter’ i.e. ‘No state or group of states has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly for any reason whatever in the internal and external affairs of any other state’. It also declares that ‘every state has an inalienable right to choose its political, economic, social and cultural systems without interference in any other form by another state’.
  • The principal of non-intervention in the internal affairs of states signifies that a state should not intervene in a dictatorial way in the internal affairs of other states.
  • The Friendly Relations Declaration (UNGA resolution 2625 XXV 1970) – ‘the principle concerning the duty not to intervene in matters within the domestic jurisdiction of any State, in accordance with the Charter’. No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State. Consequently, armed intervention and all other forms of interference or attempted threats against the personality of the State or against its political, economic and cultural elements, are in violation of international law.”
  • In the 2005 World Summit Outcome, the Heads of State and Government noted that [e]ach individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity”. They went on to say that [t]he international community, through the United Nations” also has the responsibility to use appropriate peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect populations.
  • Oppenheim’s International Law – prohibition of intervention ‘is a corollary of every state’s right to sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence’
  • Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, article 41 – diplomats should not interfere in the internal affairs of the State to which they are accredited” (can copies be sent to the envoys of US, UK, Canada, India, EU nations as well as to our Parliament and Foreign Ministry who seem not to know this key fact)
  • According to this Convention diplomats are not supposed to interfere in political activities through financial or other support for particular political parties or candidates or even comment on upcoming elections or on the candidates (if this law was applied properly quite a number of US, UK, Indian, Canadian & EU envoys would be regularly declared persona non grata)
  • According to the Vienna Convention diplomats cannot support secession. In 1967 the President of France who was on an official visit to Canada made a speech pledging French support for the secessionist movement in Quebec – this was regarded as an interference in Canada’s internal affairs and the French Presidents visit was terminated.

UN Secretary General has violated Article 2.7, Article 99 and Article 100 of the UN Charter in using a personally appointed report (Panel of Expert) and not tabling it in either the UN Security Council or the UN General Assembly nor even the UNHRC but using this report as the basis for successive resolutions against a UN member state while the UNHRC Head extensively quotes from the report to substantiate the recommendation for an international investigations. Until and unless these illegalities are removed no such international investigation should be allowed to take place. The UNSG has no business to commission reports on war crimes independent of approval by the UNGA or the UNSC.

Examples of interventions by these same nations

  • UK’s envoy Gladstone was declared persona non grata by President R Premadasa for interfering in the local elections
  • Indian envoys are regularly interfering in Sri Lanka’s affairs going round the country, arranging direct meetings, setting up groups as well as directly liaising with parties individuals with the explicit intention of causing mischief.
  • India’s intervention and interference can best be summed up in the creation of armed Tamil militancy to destabilize Sri Lanka and influencing the Tamils in Sri Lanka and overseas in order to make Sri Lanka an Indian colony.
  • US ambassadors past and present have been regularly interfering in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs, tapping into youth, giving scholarships and brainwashing them, opening various IT centres to teach them how to manipulate
  • Foreign envoys and UN representatives make a point to only visit the North and project the notion that only Northern people suffered from the 30 year conflict totally disregarding the other victims all of whom were in non-combat areas where LTTE targeted.
  • Indian PM Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka and to the North was clearly an example of interference.
  • India’s influence has been such that even bilateral agreements with historical friendly countries like China and Pakistan have been dented because of India & the West’s interference.
  • Canadian high commissioner pushing for the cancellation of the Victory Day since 2012.
  • Numerous times UN envoys and diplomats have been influencing Sri Lanka to close down military camps, trim the military presence in the north, give land deeds to people who never even owned lands especially in key strategic areas, armtwisting to give strategic stakes to them to further facilitate and accelerate their destabilizing programs using the minority /ethnic and religious card.
  • The same envoys while silent on Tamil nationalism cries foul when Sinhalese claim right to their homeland. The same envoys have little to say about the memorials for LTTE cadres while they are going out of their way to stop the Victory Day celebration in honor of the armed forces whose victory no other foreign military has been able to match.
  • It is also the fault of our politicians most of whom run to these envoys to complain even if their opposition sneezes and thus invites interference to our doorstep.

The incidents that can be mentioned of interference are many. In looking at the legal clauses and internationally accepted customary laws these violations become all the more poignant but who is there to uphold justice when the violators are violating the very laws they are holding up against other nations!

Shenali D Waduge


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