Posted on May 14th, 2021

Sarath Wijeisnghe President’s Counsel, former Ambassador to UAE and Israel and President Ambassador’s Forum

Foreign Policy

(Henry Kissinger – America has no permanent friends or enemies- Only interests)

Foreign policy is the set of rules or practices followed by a nation as a member of the global forum linked by the UN today as guidelines to the international organizations and the member states. This is the simplest definition in addition to detailed academic definitions. Set of rules could be written, direct, and indirect or in the form of speeches or declarations of the head of the state generally the formulator of the policy implemented by the Foreign Minister or the group of ministers. In any event any state enters into agreements, conventions and treatises which are part and parcel of foreign policy which is intact in the system on foreign policy. Some countries give special attention and emphasises on foreign policy and some are not. USA, UK, Russian Federation, China, are some giving priority to foreign policy and sensitive to the foreign policies of other countries may be due to their interests on other countries and their policies. One of the first duties of the new USA President to perform was to revamp, reform and reactivate the foreign policy of USA, in line with his policies of other countries, especially in dealing with the rest of the world and other nations by taking a complete U-turn from that of the policies of the predecessor on human rights and war. He put the foreign policy in order as has been done by his predecessors which has a bearing on Sri Lanka and the Geneva process. Member nations today are giving top priority on economy connecting directly to the foreign policy giving full power and responsibility to the network of Ambassadors who are guided and trained on promoting economy and financial needs of respective countries, giving targets and strict guidelines. Unfortunately this trend has no ripple effect on our network of Ambassadors around the globe enjoying the perks at the cost of the tax payer, and the cradle of the network of the representatives of the country expected to showcase the country to the world which is so easy as Sri Lanka is one of the most beautiful countries in the world with human resources, water in abundance and excellent climatic conditions unappalled as an ideal tourist destination. Foreign policy is the strategy and the future line of action of a nation on other nations and the world at large is a broader definition in terms of economic, defence, and all other areas which are so important and sensitive to the world over. This brief explanation shows how important it is for a country like Sri Lanka desperately in need of good friends and backers considering the weak economic structure deteriorating gradually in need of FDIs, and other economic backings including the goodwill of friends in need when the economy is in bad shape, debt riddled and in need of foreign reserves when acing the covid 19 crisis, just next to India one of the most affected. No nation can live in isolation in the new world interconnected digitally with physical barriers not taken serious when, interrelations and interconnections are essential for all for existence showing foreign policy is a necessity for a nation connected to each other through the network of  the United Nations. The statement of Henry Kissinger above may apply to many countries as the interest of any nation is their own country giving top priority is a reality all the other states must remember. This is a classic example and a lesson for those countries who are aligned to groups or clicks based on various considerations. There are theories and pronouncements and suggestions on look Asia, India first, Asia first, and Sri Lanka first etc. from various sources without the direct attention of the head of the state the formulator and creator of the policy. Leaders and governance of any country consist of human beings with human weaknesses when the human qualities are supressed with power, due to greed and pride. The above quotation indicates how selfish they are as any other human being vested with power! It is the interests of the respective country is what matters other than other considerations for a member of the nations in the world family too.

Foreign Policy and Covid 19 Pandemic

Covid 19 has shown the world the need to be ‘’friendly with all and angry with none’’ the main motto of Sri Lankan foreign policy. Indian foreign policy is one of the most professional, advanced and sophisticated- yet has not been able to attract friends and world in the need of desperate help from friends. We watch India with utmost sadness helplessly watching the TV footages which are worrying. We have now forgotten all previous issues and enmities during pandemic when all are in danger (reminder  of the Cobra and Mongoose- arch enemies- clinging into the same wood during floods until it reaches a land for protection- a famous village adage ) awaiting for the worst to come. Entire world including world powers are engulfed in the worst stages of pandemic with highest number of deaths and disasters expecting the worst not to reach. It may be that the world may rethink on a new thinking and way forward for foreign policy formations and applications the way UN was formed in place of League of Nations after the disastrous Second World War with so many killings and disasters. It is our wishful prey that the Pandemic will not override the Second World War but unfortunately the signals that we receive seems to be unsatisfactory and dangerous. Therefore this is the best era to extend loving kindness, sympathy and ‘’Mettha’’ to all nations by rich and powerful, especially those poor and unfortunate who have still not received a single vaccination when some powerful and rich nations have excess vaccinations about to be expired! Expecting and wishing a new chapter on foreign policy for a new world foreign policy order. There is no expectations to see to an end to the pandemic in the near future and we will have to live with it for a considerable unknown period. This is the time you will find the friends in need, in this disaster when everybody is going through the misery. Apart from the WHO it is only China who came forward to help us followed by financial by Korea and vaccinations from India. Unfortunately India had her own problems and unable to give us the promised second vaccination which is understood. Situation on pandemic is unchanged and escalating worldwide as wildfire. There appear to be no immediate end to the pandemic and the world is compelled to live with it for a considerable period.

Foreign Policy, Human Rights and United Nations

Foreign policy and human rights and United Nations are interwoven and interconnected. Charter of the United Nations was brought in to reaffirm the fundamental and human rights to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war which twice in lifetime has brought unfold sorrow to the mankind as the main human right document followed by Universal Declaration of Human rights. Human rights are rights human beings enjoy being human which is more fully described in the two main documents and subsequent jurisprudence, which is protected and jealously guarded protecting individual and collective human rights equally by a battery of subsidiary legislation, Geneva process being a by-product of the legislation and procedure. United Nations Organization is the link and the centre of the human rights mechanism managed and monitored by number of conventions and instruments. Human Rights Commission and the committee that  are by products of the legislation which has certain powers and duties in monitoring the human rights of member nations alleged to be in contravention of violation of human rights in member counters. It is alleged that there were human rights violation during the last phase of the thirty year war in Sri Lanka that fortunately ended in May 2009 with relief to the entire SAARC region and the world in inhalation of the most ruthless and feared tersest outfit in the world as said by the USA and man international organizations. At the 47 member Council in the UN 22 voted in favour, 11opposed, 14 abstained for the resolution on deep concern on the human right situation in Sri Lanka, wanting to accelerate the reconciliation process and improve human rights situation in Sri Lanka. It is noted with concern that our immediate neighbour India and close friend Nepal abstained without voting in favour of Sri Lanka, reminding us of the theories abovementioned on foreign policies of nations and the impact on world affairs which are so important. It seems that we have to rethink, reform and readjust our foreign policy with the word close neighbours and friends for our benefit and safety and foreign policy is to be considered seriously and to be taken care of. Even though the Human Rights Council has no power of implementation of suggestions, there impact is to be considered seriously in making recommendations to the General Assembly and the Security Council despite sovereignty Sri Lanka maintains under the UN Convention. United Kingdom initiated the resolution against Sri Lanka and Canada in the forefront is contemplating a resolution namely Genocide Education resolution bill no 104, which is worrying and affects the friendly relations between the two counters. Hon Minister has had a meeting with the Canadian Ambassador on the issue and it is doubtful the initiators will abandon the moves. Add to injury Sri Lanka has still not appointed High commissioners for India (one year) and Canada which are supposed to be crucial stations, and one wonders whether Sri Lanka lacks top qualified personalities, ambassadors to represent the Nation. It is time the Human Rights omission in Sri Lanka, takes care of the matter with the backing and strength of enormous staff and funds available with all facilities.

Human Rights Commission in Sri Lanka

Human Rights Commission in Sri Lanka well-funded independent body by the state and international organization which is headed by a powerful highly connected former Minister who does not seem to be active and inert at this crucial juncture when it should be in the forefront defending and promoting Sri Lanka in the Geneva process. The only book that was published on this area is the Geneva Crisis the way forward by the Ambassadors Forum assisted by world Sri Lankan bodies including the London initiative based in London. Geneva issue is brewing and the second and third wave on the way is going to be dangerous, and it is time for the Minister and Ministry to act fast with the Chairman of the Human Rights Commission to defend and promote Sri Lanka. Commission should be proactive and live up to the expectations and the facilities given with enormous local and foreign funds.

SAARC, ASEAN, BIMSTIC, and regional and international organizations and foreign policy

Sri Lanka is a member of the above and many other regional, and international organizations as an active and senior member of the United Nations playing a pivot role in international affairs that need promotion of Sri Lanka in areas of national and international interest. Regional groupings are important and an integral part of the foreign policy making on regional basis when UM deals with internationally. SAARC the South Asian Association for regional cooperation was established aiming to be another EU in Asia, had a natural death due the enormity between India and Pakistan giving birth to BIMSTEC with another group of Asian countries, whilst ASEAN was active with another vibrant group with different intentions organizing aria in the world stage meeting the competition of the west. All the groups are worst hit with India most effected with no joint and cooperative efforts to meet the main challenge Covid19 which is a main drawback. International and regional relations should play more important and active role in these matters.

Historical aspects of foreign policy

Foreign policy is a part of the history and interactions of the rulers with other nations in the past. We are supposed to have a written history over 2500 years, and unwritten over 5000 or more with legends such as Rama and ‘Ravana’’ substantiated with Asian History which cannot be ruled out and among the written are the arrival of ‘Arhath Mahinda’ as an Emissary of his father King Asoka a most powerful King sent son and daughter to propagate Buddhism to Sri Lanka on 3rd Century BC. Chinese Monk ‘’Fa-Hsian’’ visited Sri Lanka in 426BC with other monks and developed a close relations with the King and ‘Sangha’ Monks in Sri Lanka and written extensively on Buddhism and Sri Lanka. In BC22-7AD during Claudius of Rome Ambassadors exchanged from Sri Lanka and them are recorded in Rome showing the historical prints on developments of foreign policy with Sri Lanka and many countries, in Rome, Middle East, China and India. Pre and post-colonial era’s agreements entered into with foreign posers and Sri Lankan rulers until in 1815 when the British entered into the ‘’Kandyan Convention’’ with some Kandyan Leaders and British  surrendering the sovereignty to British until regained in 1948.

Network of Ambassadors in the forefront in showcasing and protecting the interests of the Nation

Ambassadors are the forerunners of any nation implementing and promoting the country they represent based on the foreign policy and directives, and are learned active men of honour promoting trade, investments, and policies of the country they represent to the word over assisting the leader of the country and the leader they represent. In Sri Lanka Ambassadors in many countries appear to be active and at times overdoing and reacting in crucial matters but do not appear to be active at the times of need such as defending the malicious propaganda against Sri Lanka especially on Geneva issue. We do not hear of any documents, webinars or articles by our ambassadors in defending and promoting the country which is expected of them. Are they promoting the country and the policies defending the nation are questions raised by the concerned citizens and student of international relations worldwide. It is agreed that they should be more proactive and forthwith with other ambassadors worldwide.

Way Forward to Save the Nation and get out of the difficulties confronted with

We are in a grave danger in all areas, especially the Pandemic front – the entire world is rounded up with. It is the duty of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the able and energetic state Minister to consider the issue more seriously and draw up a plan to mobilize the Ambassadors, the able Ministry staff and the international organizations such as London Initiate and many awaiting and eager to help mainly on the Geneva Process brewing daily fast reaching the wave two and three approaching faster than expected and the covid19 the entire country and the world is engulfed with. It is the duty of the professionals and likeminded concerned persons worldwide to rally rough the Minister and the Ministry in fighting against covid 19 and helping Sri Lanka. Economy is in bad shape and it is time to give priority to economic diplomacy and open a separate desk in all Embassies for economic promotions including tourism, exports, agriculture, and learn from success stories of our colleagues and apply it to us. It is also a good idea for the Ambassador of the host country to be responsible for all governmental institutions in the country they represent themselves.  Israel has successfully clamped down the pandemic menace and our relations with Israel are excellent, when they are awaiting to help us. Current Prime Minister in Israel, and former President in Sri Lanka met with each other and discussed matters of mutual benefits and interests given rise to main developments. We have close diplomatic relations with Israel, and it is a matter of initiatives to go forward for the benefit of all. There are other success stories and our representatives by now may have reported to the Minister on the success stories and methods to learn from others. Other areas we can work in cooperation with Israel is agriculture where they are the leaders on the subject advising even world powers, on drip irrigation seeds fertilizer related matters. China is always a friend helping us over thousands of years, and others need not be ruled out such as India and even the west in trouble these days will like to reactivate friendship with us out of sheer necessity including world powers ailing from beating s form pandemic nobody could escape. A joint effort is required with the cooperation of the world body UN, all small and major powers, and international organizations to launch a consolidated joint effort as human beings and a human community taking our giant neighbour as an example of mismanaging the situation (including Sri Lanka). It seems we have to give top priority to fight the Covod19 menace as the indications are it is going to take a long period for a complete clampdown with dangers of new variants based on the behaviour of unseen danger Covid 19 growing faster and steadily. Foreign policy and relations play a pivot role in harnessing the efforts and resources of the world community in combating the menace as now things are dangerously escalating with most stringent rules which obviously should have been implemented before, being the language some Sri Lankans will understand. Even this period of uncertainty and danger, we must sit and relax to educate ourselves on a new life line life and a vision on a new roadmap for foreign policy based on mistakes made and future plans on all aspects of governance. The Foreign Minister and the State Minister has the responsibility and a pivot roll in mobilizing the Ambassadors in the fight against Covid19  using the good will and good offices of Ambassadors to gather assistance from the Sri Lankans in respective countries obviously in highest positions to fight the Pandemic fast spreading. Sri Lankans worldwide especially in UK, USA, Europe and powerful countries and international organizations are eagerly awaiting to help with inviting  leadership to the Sri Lankans overseas, and other groups, and it is time the two Ministers and the Ministry give the necessary leadership, whilst discussing with the President and Prime Minister new strategies  foundations and roadmaps  for a Sri Lanka Friendly Foreign Policy as suggested in the five volumes on Foreign Policy Books published by the Ambassador’s Forum. Sarath7@hotmail.co.uk


  1. Nimal Says:

    All countries must have a foreign policy that is in tune with the civilized world and same goes for the UN conventions on human rights otherwise the latter might haunt us should there be situation like what’s going on like in Palestine at present. People in Middles East shown little regard to the HR conventions, constantly disregarding it.the reason why they are being ignored and even harmed by an aggressor like Israel. Israel must be unhappy to have them living among them. Perhaps they want the Muslim Palestinians out of their country though they have no such hostility to other minorities’ like the Christians whom I was told living amicably in the Christian sector in Jerusalem and even the Iranians living close to Haifa. My aunty who went to Israel in 1960s observed this on her Christian pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

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