29 May, 2023


A Comprehensive Convention On International Terrorism; A Role For Sri Lanka

By Rajeewa Jayaweera

Rajeewa Jayaweera

Rajeewa Jayaweera

Sri Lanka fielded it’s ‘A’ team led by President Sirisena for the 71st UN General Assembly in New York, USA attended by scores of Heads of State and Government of its 193 member states. President Sirisena spoke of “enough experience with a brutal war”, of making “people of Sri Lanka the happiest people on earth” and called on the international community to help his country on its path to achieving long-term peace. Reference was also made to Theravada Buddhism, though its relevance is questionable.

The ‘B’ team headed by Foreign Minister Managala Samaraweera attended Ocean Conference 2016 in Washington, USA at the invitation of US Secretary State John Kerry. It was attended by approximately 100 countries including a few Heads of State and Government. Minister Samaraweera spoke of a National Policy for Conservation and the Sustainable Utilization of Mangrove Ecosystems and called for the “discontinuation and banning of all fishing methods that harm marine eco-systems, worldwide, in particular, bottom trawling”. He failed to highlight the destruction of Sri Lanka’s marine reserves in its northern coast due to bottom trawling.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called on President SirisenaThe ‘C’ team headed by Skills Development and Vocational Training Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, suitably designated ‘Special Envoy of President Sirisena’ for the occasion, attended the 17th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Margarita Island, Venezuela. Of the 120 member states, only around a dozen Heads of State and Government attended the summit in Margarita Island, perhaps the lowest since its inception in 1961. Minister Samarasinghe, during his address stated “Social-economic development is one of the most important issues that face our governments. As we move forward the 2030 Agenda, we must give high priority to the alleviation of poverty, the importance of food security, health and nutrition, education, water and sanitation, energy and infrastructure and greater access for women.” He also proposed key areas of focus for NAM to concentrate. A two sentence reference was made to terrorism “reaffirming the importance of concluding a comprehensive convention on International Terrorism at the earliest.”

President Sirisena, in his election manifesto, promised a ‘non-aligned’ foreign policy in case he was voted into office. He reiterated his promise during his first official overseas visit while visiting India. In this context, NAM in Margarita Island in Venezuela was the first NAM Heads of State/Govt. summit to be held since 09 January 2015. Therefore, it would have been very much in order to attend the NAM summit prior to proceeding to New York to attend the 71st UNGA, his second since assuming office. It would have also been a reaffirmation of the commitment of both Sri Lanka and his administration to non-alignment. Internal political turmoil in Venezuela is no concern of Sri Lanka even though it would appear to be very much the concern of habitual busy body nations. It is hoped, President Sirisena giving the NAM summit a miss is not a sign of a departure from non-alignment and also not as a result of a need to appease such busy body nations. It must be stated, big brother India too sent a ‘C’ team headed by its Vice President (an ‘A’ team would have been headed by the Prime Minister and ‘B’ team by the President). However, that is to be expected as India’s commitment to NAM since the advent of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in the late 1960s can at best be described as lukewarm.

Minister Samarasinghe’s two sentence reference to terrorism is indeed disappointing. Sri Lanka, faced the scourge of terrorism for nearly three decades. Terrorism today is a global menace and can be found globally, starting from India. Governments across the globe including the mighty USA, despite all efforts have not succeeded in stamping our terrorism in in both their home turfs and countries in spheres of their interests as applicable, one of the few exception being Sri Lanka. Therefore, Sri Lanka is eminently suited to spearhead an initiative for a comprehensive convention on international terrorism. In terms of timing, the current global crisis taking place in India, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Ukraine to mention a few countries, would have made it difficult for the likes of USA and Russia who are involved in almost every global crisis, to oppose such an initiative. India, who has complained to the United Nations of Pakistan fermenting terrorism in India too would have been hard pressed to oppose such an initiative despite the fact, India did ferment terrorism in Sri Lanka three decades ago. The call for such an initiative must essentially be made by the President or at least the Prime Minister and not by a Minister.

Towards this end, a lesson can be learnt from the manner former Prime Minister Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike undertook a similar initiative. During the third conference of the Heads of State / Government of Non-Aligned countries held in Lusaka from 8 to 10 September 1970, then Ceylon’s newly elected Prime Minister Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike proposed a new Foreign Policy initiative “the Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace” (IOZOP) as a response to the militarization of the Indian ocean due to the ‘cold war’. It was based on declaring the Indian Ocean a Zone of Peace though the more recognized form was for ‘an Indian Ocean free of nuclear weapons’. Her proposal was reflected in the summit’s final declaration. “Declaration of the Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace” was then included in the agenda of the 26th General Assembly in 1971. The resolution was adopted with 61 votes for, zero against and 55 abstentions. China voted in favour whereas USA, USSR, UK and France all abstained. The adopted Resolution 2832 (XXVI) called for the Indian Ocean with air space above and ocean floor within limits to be defined and to be designated as a zone of peace. It further called all nations to consider and respect the Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace and to refrain from Power rivalries and competition enabling the exclusion of military bases and free of nuclear weapons. India’s attitude, in view of its Friendship Treaty with USSR signed in 1971was less than encourating. An Ad Hoc Committee on the Indian Ocean was established during the 1972 General Assembly and tasked with the study of practical measures to achieve the objectives of the Declaration. Regrettably, the initiative lost momentum after Prime Minister JR Jayewardene assumed office in 1977. As correctly envisages by former Prime Minister Bandaranaike, an endorsement at NAM summit by member states would have assured support for the initiative of almost three fourths of UN member states. A serious effort would have obviously involved pre-summit canvassing for support for the initiative, by a team led by the President himself.

Some might question the purpose and benefit to Sri Lanka in spear heading such an initiative, which in this writer’s opinion are twofold. Firstly, it would bring Sri Lanka to the limelight for the right reasons and not the wrong reasons as was the case commencing 1983. The President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister have been visiting foreign countries and attending various international gatherings and summits in their quest to obtain acceptance and respectability besides aid and foreign investments. Photo ops with the likes of President and Mrs Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry etc. at multilateral gatherings unlike during a state visit related to bilateral relations is of little value other than for local consumption. Many nations would take cognizance of an initiative in defining and combatting terrorism, spearheaded by Sri Lanka due to its credentials of being one of the few nations to have overcome a ruthless terrorist organization after nearly thirty years. Secondly, the impact of worsening relations between India and Pakistan, currently trading accusations of fermenting terrorism in each other’s countries need be contained before it explodes and impact the entire South Asian region. Handling of terrorism in a country is best left to its government with the international community extending necessary support in containing the problem. However, if the issue threatens to spill over to neighboring countries or the region, such countries must take necessary steps and initiatives to ensure regional stability. Once again, in view of the foreign actors who were involved in Sri Lanka’s fight against terrorism, it has the moral right to spearhead such an initiative.

A good start point in such a convention would be the vexed issue of achieving a global consensus of ‘who is a terrorist’.

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Latest comments

  • 9

    Terrorism ??????

    When an elected government send thugs to attack minority and order the security forces to look other side what —ism is this ? you are fully aware this happen in this cursed country since 1956 eh?

    In Syria the government bomb and kill their own people -after copying SL Sinhala government massacres …is what —-ism?

    when it is for you its is blood but for others it is just a tomato juice. he he he

    Better shut up… clean your house first before advising others .


  • 7

    “Sri Lanka, faced the scourge of terrorism for nearly three decades.”

    I would like to coorct the above sentence because it is factually incorrect and invalid. I don’t know why he limited his statement to three decades but the fact is that Srilanka faced Terrorism for more than five decades. Terrorism is about the experience of violence against people. Either you should start with 1958 massacre of Tamils or 1970 JVP attack on Military. Why it is 1983? I would say 1983 violence was a Terrorism. LTTE attack on Sinhala only Military happened in 1983. Rather than finding those attackers, counter attack on unarmed civilians on that day by Military was definitely a “TERRORISM”. A school bus was stopped and asked all those students and massacred them. People from those houses in many streets were dragged in to the streets and sprayed bullets like a pesticide. Yes these are the terrorism faced by people. It is Terrorism. President should have asked international help to eradicate this sort of Terrorism.

  • 9

    Biggest terrorist organisation in Srilanka is Srilankan Government. Together with it’s security forces and goon squads, it is they who had committed atrocities more in number and severity than any other terror groups in Srilanka. If a criteria is made to label an organisation a terrorist, then Srilanka government falls into that category without any doubt. Unfortunately though all other forms of terror had been eradicated in Srilanka, state terrorism is continuing particularly against Tamils. Occupying lands of Tamils and not vacating giving unacceptable reasons and appropriating lands of Tamils by force to settle Sinhalese and Muslims from outside the province to change the demographic pattern and constructing Buddhist temples to distort the existing cultural pattern are also forms of terrorism. Tamil people have to face not only these physical terrorism but also other forms like legislative, executive and judicial terrorism. It is increasingly evident that no Sinhala government is going to eradicate it due to political expediency and thefefore time has come for the international community to step in and save Tamils from Sinhala terrorism.

  • 4

    Talking shop United Nations

    Failed to Stop the massacre in Rwanda

    Failed to stop the massacre in Srebrenica

    Failed to stop the massacre of 300,000 Tamils by Sinhala card board army using chemical weapons .

    Now again watching Syrian President Azaad killing his own people in thousands ..already 4 million refugees

    Now the same U.N silently watching guardian of Islam stone age Saudies bomb and killing their own Muslims in Yemen daily . using fighter planes according to their holy book.

    Soon this useless U.N will hoist conference to collect money for the transport and 5 star hotel accommodation for their staff to prepare useless paper report.

    This U.N is simply a useless organization .


    • 2

      Agreed cholan,

      The UN is a failed organisation. Coffee Annan’s lament in later years was that he was unable to prevent the invasion of Iraq by the US, UK and the Australian alliance.

      The UN is utterly inept and corrupt to boot. It has also been a tool for errant states, specifically the US who have used the UN as a shield to mask some its highly controversial military actions.

  • 1

    For the supporters of the world’s most ruthless terrorist organization, Sinhale govt is the terrorist.

    Other than that, West is highly connected to world’s terrorism.

    Muslims love to engage in it. When they are influnced on religion they for it.

    See how Saudi arabia is bombing Yeman. No one talks about it. that was is needed there because one particular country has to sell weapons. Saudi Arabia does not want another PRo-Iraniana Shite muslims have an established country.

    Sri lankan politicians are attending every conferance in the world. but, they know they have not done anything since 1948.

  • 0

    If you listened to the Second Debate and to HIlary Clinton, she explained how they promote terrorism in Syria.

  • 0

    A good story about Terrorism;

    . an unclassified U.S. Department of State document emailed to Hillary on April 2, 2011, key Clinton aide Michael Blumenthal confirmed that Perkins was right and the attack on Libya had nothing to do with Qaddafi being a threat to the United States and NATO and everything to do with looting his gold.

    Qaddafi’s government holds 143 tons of gold, and a similar amount in silver. During late March, 2011, these stocks were moved to Sabha (south west in the direction of the Libyan border with Niger and Chad); taken from the vaults of the Libyan Central Bank in Tripoli, Blumenthal reported to Clinton.

    Blumenthal pointed out the purpose of Qaddafi’s precious metal: This gold was accumulated prior to the current rebellion and was intended to be used to establish a pan- African currency based on the Libyan golden Dinar. This plan was designed to provide the Francophone African Countries with an alternative to the French franc (CFA).

    Blumenthal spells out the reason for NATO’s attack and France’s imperial plunder, French intelligence officers discovered this plan shortly after the current rebellion began, and this was one of the factors that influenced President Nicholas Sarkozy’s decision to commit France to the attack on Libya.

    There were five reasons for France’s illegal war with NATO against Libya. Sarkozy sought, according to Blumenthal, a. A desire to gain a greater share of Libyan oil production, b. Increase French influence in North Africa, c. Improve his internal situation in France, d. Provide the French military with an opportunity to assert its position in the world, e. Address the concern of his advisors over Qaddafi’s long term plans to supplant France as the dominant power in Francophone Africa.

    It is obvious from this email that while Blumenthal understood Sarkozy’s need to protect French bankers from Gaddafi’s ambitious plan to launch a gold-based trans-African banking system, Blumenthal did not have a handle on Sarkozy’s ulterior motive—eliminating evidence of the French President’s own criminality. It should also be noted—and underscored—that none of the reasons for military action Blumenthal listed in his damning email could possibly justify an unprovoked attack on another sovereign state.

  • 0

    Hi! Mr. Rajiwa Jeyaweera,
    Your time is up now and today is not 9/11 to take any more opportunity to hide your face in the sand and assume nobody can see you. You have exposed the state terrorism for a very long time and still assuming nobody saw you! Bad judgement is always cheating you. Be careful not to expose your leaders to face genocide charges by pushing them to get caught unawares. Anyway you will not be aware what is coming up and you will not expect anything until you are forced and you can keep pretending as always!

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