Posted on January 27th, 2023

Sarath Wijesinghe (President’s Counsel, former Ambassador to UAE and Israel, President Ambassador’s Forum)

Sanctions to countries and organizations

Sanctions are imposed on individuals or countries under international law/diplomacy by a country organization or an individual as a punishment deterrent or a warning on a wrongdoing or a wrongdoer or difference of views or an opinions. Sanctions can be arbitrary or jointly by an organization or a group of countries or group of individuals as the case be. There is no court or a tribunal to impose or remove sanctions on another country or an organization. It could be understanding or misunderstanding based on diplomacy and diplomatic relations. UK and Europe imposed sanctions on Iran arbitrarily on the decision taken by the two governments on policy matters based on foreign policy. Europe imposed sanctions on Sri Lanka on illegal fishing also a decision taken by the group of European countries and Sri Lanka had no choice but to accept as the International Commission of Justice will not entertain complains of sanctions. Former Army commander of Sri Lanka is prevented from visiting USA when a travel ban is imposed on him by the US government on a policy matter also connected to the foreign policy issue. UN High Commissioner of Human rights Michel ‘Bacheelet’ urged the states to impose sanctions on Sri Lanka based on the findings of the High Commissioner is also an issue based n foreign policy and diplomacy implementation. There are numerous  such examples but the sanctions on the two former leaders of Sri Lanka is rare and exceptional  yet there is nothing Sri Lanka could do unless relations with Germany and the world over is brought back to normal eradicating misunderstandings on diplomacy. Foreign policy foreign relations and diplomacy are sides of the same coin interrelated, and interwoven, changing from time to time based on the behaviour of individuals or nations on policy views and conduct of international affairs ever changing. Foreign policy is an extension of the domestic policy generally managed by the head of the country advised by the advisors from time to time. This shows a nation must have a sound domestic policy as well as a foreign policy to live among the nations with no differences or conflicts. A proper and correct domestic policy on international affairs is a pre requisite for the development of a nation. Foreign or External policy is one of the main ingredients/requirement for a member of the world family to conduct themselves in the family of nations based on diplomacy and moreover on conventions of diplomatic relations and agreements entered into with the nations or organizations  mainly  Vienna Convention on Diplomatic relations followed by many before and after the convention. Foreign policy is how the country acts and reacts with the rest of the world family members living in harmony and in spirit of friendship with each other. Family of nations is a brotherhood with human beings with human feelings as leaders of nations with different views, ideologies and opinions joined in a group under international law which is not a codified legislation but in practice with the help of the experts writings, opinions, finding of the International courts of Justice and many other documents, books and opinions of learned international law experts currently UN in the apex body yet international law exists and in practice quite successfully with the help of leaders of states , diplomats, diplomacy, conventions treatises and agreements academics and Experts on Law and International relations. Some say the international law is akin to law of the jungle in that the strong exists over others as in the jungle based on the principle survival of the fittest. UN Is mainly funded by powerful and wealthy nations and there is a school of thoughts the UN is biased or contorted by them in some way. Main human rights instrument is the UN Charter followed by convention on human rights and many others in which many countries have become signatory means are morally bound to respect. A nation must be respected and believed by the rest of the nation’s generally supervised by the UN the world body with limited powers. Five world powers and the general UN body controls the world affairs with many subsidiary bodies actively involved in world affairs assisted by the International Commission of justice which is the legal arm of the organization that clarifies and decides matters before the tribunal for clarification and judgement.

International Bombshell

Most recent international ‘’Bomb Shell ‘’ is the sanctions imposed on ‘’Mahinda Rajapasa and Gotabaya Rajapaksa’’ brothers – two former heads of Sri Lanka  world who are no longer in power and two other former members of the Sri Lankan security forces, for allegations of human rights violations during the last phase of the war in Sri Lanka that took over three decades to end with ferocious war against the most ferocious and ruthless fighters (LTTE liberation of Tamil Tigers)named by non-other than USA naming most dangerous and ruthless combatants according to academics and terrorists according to Sri Lankan State. The alleged atrocities of Tigers and alleged violation of human rights by the Sri Lankan state are catalogued by the human rights commission/committee which has given ample publicity by the media and academic circles worldwide. Some brother nations targeted Sri Lanka on resolutions led by a battery of NGOs and anti Sri Lankan diaspora in respective countries settled initially as refugees and obtained full citizenship with lot of privileges and facilities capable to air their voices loud on Sri Lanka and the atrocities committed by the security forces led by the leader of the country naming the two brothers responsible on the Principe ‘’Command Responsibility’’ in that they are responsible for the actions of the subordinates is supressing the war waged on behalf of the aspirations of the Tamil Minority they say were targeted and persecuted. The war was so ferocious that at some stage the fighters nearly invaded the part of the country claimed by separatists in the Unitary state  but it is the joint effort of ‘’Rajapaksa’’ Brothers leadership that saved the breakaway of the country which is in the hearts and minds of the citizen despite the allegations of corruption, bribery and nepotism.

Why Sri Lanka?

Is Sri Lanka the only country? in violation of human rights and targeted to be persecuted and sanctioned is an interesting matter when there are many other countries  facing more serious allegations yet untouched  due to their economic/financial  strength and power behind United Nations and subsidiary organizations  Gross violation of human rights are frequent and common in various degrees in the world family  catalogued by human rights organisations mainly by powerful countries on expansionism and forcible acquisition of  wealth/resources directly or tacitly from  other  nations or organizations for various reasons. Click of a button on the net will give the gross violation of individual and collective human regents committed for a long time buried unnoticed and unearthed by the media which is catalogued during wars, suppressions colonisations fighting for wealth and resources world over. Sri Lanka is a classic example of targeted accusations of human rights allegedly supressing the minority rising against the majority for self-rule by an armed struggle  the government resisted led by ‘’Rajapaksa’’ brothers and the group  had the popular support then and not any longer. Sri Lanka had a sound foreign policy during ‘’Bandaranayaka’’ regimes and today faced with a brink of disaster economically and politically due to mismanagement of successive governments to date for decades. Sri Lanka has been the topic of discussion in the human rights commission in various occasions initiated by member nations in the human rights commission mainly on the violation of rights of minorities during the last phases of war in 2009 and now extended to general violations and Sri Lanka is struggling to meet the arguments due to the pressure exerted by international organizations backed by NGO’s based in Sri Lanka and world over backed and supported by the diaspora in countries with majority of influential Tamil community now resident in many western nations.

Foreign Policy and diplomacy in Sri Lank

Sri Lanka is a senior member of the United Nations respected by the world at some stages of post independent rule after independence as an educated nation that maintained close diplomatic relations with the world community especially during ‘D S Senanayaka’ regime when he conducted the post-independence short regime until S W R D and ‘Sirimavo Bandaraneika’ who managed the foreign policy and not necessary the economic management as has been done by all previous regimes. ‘Mahinda R’ managed the foreign policy during the war fairly well with the help of his extravagant yet able foreign minister until the war was won but did not continue the process of recondition for peace and amity among all ethnic groups an excellent opportunity missed. Ethnic groups left the country in large numbers and settled in powerful counties as a politically powerful groups to be able to show power in marginal electorates in the host countries and vehemently canvassed against Sri Lanka on violations of human rights – especially during the last phase of the war in 2009 backed by NGO’s and other international organizations in various countries and organizations. Unfortunately the Sri Lankan Diplomats and the foreign Ministry and the government was inactive inefficient to meet the adverse propaganda with no proper foreign policy nor directions to meet the adverse propaganda that has gone deep into the foreign media and the international network. Dealings with states and international organizations have not been deep rooted and professional leaving the non-governmental organizations and the international media to speak on Sri Lanka freely with their vision backed by the biased international organizations. Sri Lanka developed a nonaligned foreign pricy with the motto friendly with all and angry continued in the foreign policy agendas yet Sri Lanka was shown to be biased due to economic deals such as ‘Hambantioa’ Harbour and Port City Deals were mega deal with China subject to debts incurred. Governments from 2015 did not give special attention on foreign policy when the government was shaky and full of conflicts. If Sri Lanka was vigilant with a vibrant policy the issues would not have aggravated to the pleasant situation. The situation today is grave and lot of efforts and hard work in required to bring the matters back to normal in the international arena.

‘’Targeted sanctions and Way out proposed by Ambassador’s Forum on Foreign Policy’’

Sanctions are common but targeted sanctions are generally uncommon especially on world leaders. Sanctions on the two former world leaders are uncommon and abrupt. It seems it is due to Pressure from international organizations and countries working with the knowledge and tacit support off some UN organizations which is an unfortunate situation. It is the duty of the Sri Lankan state and the Sri Lankans worldwide to work together with a joint plan of action to arrange a plan a long term strategy with the Sri Lankan Government and the Minister of Foreign Affairs to formulate a proper and effective foreign policy to attract the international community and to get all the groups and races together with a concerted plan of action. Ambassadors Forum has published eight volume on varied topics on foreign policy containing over 200 chapters on varied topics  by learned academics and practitioners on the flowing topics namely,  Foreign Policy Perspectives  for Sri Lanka in 2020, Foreign Policy Perspectives international Port City and Financial Centre , Colombo, Foreign Policy Perspectives after Coved 19, Foreign Policy perspectives  Sri Lanka First, Geneva Process and the way forward, Peace and Reconciliation, Foreign Policy perspectives on  promoting tourism employment investment agriculture foreign policy and education and  foreign Policy Perspectives on  Human Rights Development and New World Order. Topics speaks itself of the intentions and the visions of the volumes as a guide and strategy for the nation in the formulation of foreign policy and other policies domestic as well as foreign. We have chosen topics from leading renewed academics and interties in Sri Lanka and worldwide to whom we are grateful to. Topics have been chosen from current and important topic in order to use as a guidance to the state ministry and the Sri Lankans to work together aiming at a common goal as matters are completely out of control and immediate and correct steps re to be taken as a matter of urgency. This is the contribution by the Ambassador’s forum in addition to the rest of the projects on workshops seminars and discussions and publications. Let us work together to formulate a violable and proper Foreign Policy for Sri Lanka to be an acceptable and proud member of the intentional community.

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