25 June, 2019

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Geneva Outcome 2012

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayathilleka

Let’s learn the right lessons from the Geneva outcome, not the wrong ones. It is not the case that a small country such as Sri Lanka cannot fight a diplomatic battle with the mighty USA and win.  Minutes after the Sri Lanka vote at the HRC this time, the Cubans moved a resolution on the composition of the staff of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the opacity (code-named independence) of which the West regards as a holy of holies. The USA opposed the resolution. The Cuban resolution won with a massive 33 votes.

Last year the USA invested far more effort and political capital at a far higher political level than in the case of the Sri Lanka resolution in Geneva, to prevent Palestine from being granted full membership of the UNESCO in Paris. The US lost that battle, and besieged Palestine, an embryonic or proto-state (unlike Sri Lanka) won a two thirds majority.  The battle was fought by a core quartet comprising two Palestinian diplomats –the impressive Left Bank intellectual Ambassador Elias Sanbar, his deputy Munir –and the Permanent Delegates of Egypt and Saudi Arabia. (The Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki addressed the Council after the victory to thank the member states). I was privileged to be a participant in that historic struggle.

Even in the case of the Special Session on Sri Lanka in the UNHRC in Geneva in May 2009, we have confirmation from Wikileaks that the USA ‘led from behind’, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton instructing the US Mission thus: “…the USG [US Govt] supports a special session on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka and related aspects of the humanitarian situation. Mission is further requested to provide assistance, as needed…in obtaining others signatures to support holding this session…Mission is also instructed to engage with HRC members to negotiate a resolution as an outcome of this special session, if held. Department believes a special session that does not result in a resolution would be hailed as a victory by the Government of Sri Lanka…[Cable dated 4th May 2009 from Secretary of State (United States)] Sri Lanka won that battle, of course, with more votes than the sole superpower, the US, managed to secure this time.

The classic example of how to beat the US in a diplomatic battle is Cuba, which moves a resolution against the blockade every year at the UN General Assembly in New York and secures a mammoth victory of 190 votes in favour and 3 against.

The examples of Palestine (2011), Cuba and Sri Lanka (2009) have one thing in common: you can resist the West successfully only if you have built a sufficiently broad cross-regional coalition, a global united front. Such a counter-hegemonic bloc is predicated upon support in one’s own region, from among one’s own neighbours. India’s decision to support the US resolution came as a shock. Yet, it shouldn’t have. There can always be ‘black swan events’ but those are pretty much unpredictable. Other events can be anticipated if preceded by accurate analysis. The Indian turnaround was not only predictable; it was predicted and therefore preventable, and yet it wasn’t. I wrote the following, six months ago, ringing the alarm bell regarding the UN Human Rights Council when there was time enough to do something:

“If one has to identify a single critical or crucial variable for Sri Lanka, it is India, but our strategy cannot be reduced to Indian support…A few weeks after we fought and won our battle in Geneva in May 2009, Myanmar lost in the same forum though it had the votes of India, Russia and China. So the secret of our victory in 2009 was not simply and solely India…We will find it almost impossible to win without India’s support, and we cannot win if India ever turns against us, but we cannot win only with India’s support.   We must always remember that many Asian, Middle Eastern, African and Latin American states will take their cue from India. India has a wide presence and is widely respected among Sri Lanka’s friends. We must rally our neighbourhood in our support. We must have the solid support of our continent, Asia. We must balance the South against hostile sections of the North, and the East against hostile sections of the West. India is pivotal in all these defensive moves and it is difficult to implement any of them if India is against or conspicuously on the sidelines. If, as some critical commentaries assert, India’s position has changed, or is changing, or might possibly change, from that of our May 2009 UN HRC victory, we must seek out the reasons and rectify them jointly.

We must certainly strive to countervail the mounting anti-Lankan opinion in Indian civil society and the media, militant opinion in Tamil Nadu and the lobbying of certain Western elements. We must secure Delhi’s support and swing Indian public and political opinion firmly over to Sri Lanka’s side. This cannot be done by purely verbal means but by policy reforms. As a UN based top official of Sri Lanka’s firmest, most powerful international friend told me once, short of capitulating on or compromising its vital security interests, Sri Lanka must do what it takes to help its friends to help it. (‘Defending and Protecting Sri Lanka’, Daily Mirror, September 29th, 2011, my emphasis, DJ)

My warning six months back was no one-off flash of foresight. The danger of an Indian shift and what should be done to forestall it was set out in cold print by me as long as three years ago. In an article that appeared exactly three months BEFORE the death of Prabhakaran, entitled ‘The Indian Reality in Sri Lanka’s Existence’ I wrote:

“…India cannot afford recrudescent Tamil Nadu separatism which thrives on the charge that New Delhi is insensitive to Tamil Nadu’s feelings for their ethnic kin in Northern Sri Lanka. Tamil Nadu… is an important and influential component of the Indian Union, and when push comes to shove, carries far more weight than Sri Lanka and the Sinhalese, in New Delhi, Washington, Moscow and Beijing. If faced with a serious strategic choice, Delhi will choose Chennai over Colombo. It is up to Sri Lanka to prevent matters coming to that…

Sri Lanka needs to countervail and neutralize the anti-Sinhala extremists in Tamil Nadu and the Diaspora…The balanced solution of fullest autonomy within a unitary framework may be opposed by smaller extremist forces among the Sinhala majority. The grim reality though, is that even at their most disruptive and violent, these forces can do much less harm to the Sri Lankan state than a decision by India, under mounting Tamil Nadu pressure, to tilt against Sri Lanka, and a corresponding decision by India’s partner the USA to mount economic pressure on Sri Lanka through multilateral institutions and agencies. Under the unlamented Bush administration there was daylight between the positions of the US and the EU. Under the new and universally welcomed Obama administration there may be no daylight between the positions of the US, EU and India.” (‘The Indian Reality in Sri Lanka’s Existence’, The Island Feb 16, 2009)

I had quickly returned to the theme in the next month, again before the war was won, in a piece significantly entitled ‘Winning Locally, Winning Globally’:

The Sinhalese and Tamils are in a Mexican standoff. Locally, the Sri Lankan armed forces have surrounded the Tigers…Meanwhile, globally, from the US Senate to the UN Security Council, from Ottawa to London, from Brussels to Pretoria, from Delhi to Dili, Sri Lanka is under pressure and scrutiny as never before. Are we being encircled globally just as we have encircled the Tigers locally…The Tigers have no exit from military defeat, but do the State and society have an exit from the crisis?” (‘Winning Locally, Winning Globally’, The Island Midweek, March 11, 2009)

In June–July 2009, in the immediate aftermath of the military victory and, more topically today, our diplomatic success in Geneva at the UN HRC, I repeatedly stressed the point in what turned out to be a polemical exchange.

“…As the paradigmatic victory in Geneva showed, we can win against the Tiger Diaspora and the Western European bloc influenced by it, when we are supported by our neighbours, our continent and our natural constituency the developing world plus Russia. In this strategy the support of India is critical. Without India’s support, the rest will distance itself from us, leaving us wide open to Western pressure and coercion. China alone cannot carry the weight…” (‘13th Amendment: Why non-implementation is a non-option’, The Island, 13th June, 2009)

“..Sovereignty not only has to be asserted, it has to be defended and defensible. Sri Lanka cannot defend its sovereignty against all comers from all points of the compass, North and South, West and East. It can defend its sovereignty only by power balancing in a multi-polar world…” (‘The 13th Amendment, Indo-Lanka, Sovereignty’ The Island, June 27, 2009)

Sadly, this reality manifested itself in Geneva, on March 21st 2012.

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Latest comments

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    Hmmmmmmmm Dayan points lifts our eyebrows, good analysis

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    Dont look for lessons elsewhere. Learn good governance. KCL

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    Dayan.. i agree with some points.. however its not just because of India.. India did lobby hard to get the resolution passed.. We have to seen the nations that voted againt in 2009 and in 2011 who are the nations there.. We could have lost the vote even with a lower number if the chinese did not support and lobby those nations to vote in favour.. For instance The New Libya.. did not have chinese or Indian influence.. It had the US influence.. for the main reason that Libya have commited war crimes but with the help of the USA.. and Well the USA will never table a resolution against the NEW LIBYA.. And Mexico carried nations such as peru and some of the other Latin nations and in 2009 mexico did the USA bidding.. So nothing to do with India.. The greatest suprise was Nigeria.. Indian Policy is always dictated with its internal politics.. and in 09 the congress won a huge victory while the DMK was in the back foot.. Today the congress in in perial and needs its ally.. Lankan policy cannot be heald to this kind of pressure.. But china is the Key to a new Asia nd era.. And we must include Russian influence in Asia as well.. But the only reason we lost in 2011 is because the countries of 2009 that supported us was not there.. and some nations that voted against us was present in 2009.. This myth of Indian Superiority is illusion.. And we must never fall for this illusion.. and pls dont write on behalf to strengethen these ideas.. Lankan must align ist apolicy with china.. A Special realtionship..

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    Question is how to deal with India and USA in favor of GOSL. I think Rajapakse trio and the GOSL Geneva team messed up everything diplomatically.

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    Ha…ha…ha…I was waiting to see what kind of a spin the Doctor would give the defeat of Sri Lanka at Geneva…now I know. Only in Sri Lanka do victories become defeats and defeats become victories.

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      It’s neither a victory nor a defeat; it is a pointless waste of time and money. If the resolution had failed to pass it would be no different.

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        But it’s we, the public, who have to pay for the carnival that went on – all the organized “protests”, all the trips and parties in Geneva, all the hype that was directed to protect the images of a few egomaniacs.
        Money that could have been spent on the people.
        That makes a difference to me.

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        is that your stance or the junta’s ?

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        John, how would it have been different if the resolution had failed? There would have just been some victory parades from the Wimal types. Making a big deal out of this resolution in the lead-up to the session was the absurdity. If SL had accepted the US invitation to help draft the document, it would have been watered down to nothing weeks ago and been passed even without any controversial vote, and most of SL and the diaspora wouldn’t have even noticed. Previous administrations organized a cricket tour whenever they wanted to distract the people; this one organizes a UN resolution! :D

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    One doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to conclude that India’s decision was solely based on the blackmail tactics applied by Karunanidi on top of getting the nuclear power plant getting off the ground in TN.

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    The “Right Lessons” to be learnt,will be not to allow Sri Lanka become another Cuba.

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    The comparison between resolution to admit Palestine and the US resolution co-sponsored by 40 countries on Sri Lanka at the Human Right Council is completely misplaced. The Palestinian’s case was morally correct and the need for a statehood for Palestine has been recognized even by USA. But5 in the case of Sri Lanka there was no moral high ground for any reasonable person to take the side of Sri Lanka, except those who are still clinging on to obsolete Westphalian sovereignty. Of course what else a poor Ambassodor can do?

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    Dear Dr. Dayan!

    Your analysis is unscientific as usual.

    After the destruction of the LTTE, the international community, including India. has realized that the ROOT CAUSE of the problems of Lanka has been the Sinhala – Theravada Buddhist nationalism based on the imaginary and false doctrine: Sinhala – Sinhalese – Theravada Buddhism – Lanka with one to one correspondence.

    This was confirmed by the Para. 28 of the UN Panel Report that says:

    “After independence, political elites tended to prioritize short-term political gains, appealing to communal and ethnic sentiments, over long-term policies, which could have built an inclusive state that adequately represented the multicultural nature of the citizenry. Because of these dynamics and divisions, the formation of a unifying national identity has been greatly hampered. Meanwhile, SINHALA-BUDDHIST NATIONALISM GAINED TRACTION, ASSERTING A PRIVILEGED PLACE FOR THE SINHALESE AS THE PROTECTORS OF SRI LANKA,AS THE SACRED HOME OF BUDDHISM. THESE FACTORS RESULTED IN DEVASTATING AND ENDURING CONSEQUENCES FOR THE NATURE OF THE STATE, GOVERNANCE AND INTER-ETHNIC RELATIONS IN SRI LANKA.”

    The UN Panel Report thus emphasizes that the ‘ROOT CAUSE’ of the problems of Lanka has been its SINHALA BUDDHIST NATIONALISM based on the SACRED DOCTRINE: SINHALA – SINHALESE _ BUDDHISM – LANKA doctrine withONE TO ONE CORRESPONDENCE.

    This was further confirmed by the LLRC appointed by the HE Rajapakse.
    The Paragraph 8.150 of the Commission says:

    “The Commission takes the view that the root cause of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka lies in the failure of successive Governments to address the genuine grievances of the Tamil people. The country may not have been confronted with a violent separatist agenda, if the political consensus at the time of independence had been sustained and if policies had been implemented to build up and strengthen the confidence of the minorities around the system which had gained a reasonable measure of acceptance.”

    Under ‘The Different Phases in the Narrative of Tamil Grievances’ the Commission has highlighted in para.8.163 of its Report that:

    “The decisive rift in the inter-ethnic relationship came first with the riots of 1958, then in1977, and culminating in what is known as ‘Black July’ of 1983, and the heinous failure of the then Government to provide adequate protection to Tamil citizens. The problems pertaining to the Tamil Community and their grievances cannot be fully addressed without a fuller understanding of this culture of violence that marred the relationship between the Sinhala and Tamil communities.”

    Thus, the LLRC indirectly accepts that the “CULTURE OF VIOLENCE” was introduced in the country NOT BY THE TAMILS, BUT BY THE SINHALESE AND IT WAS INDIRECTLY CATALYZED BY THE GOVERNMENTS OF SRI LANKA.

    An integrated analysis of the recommendations of the LLRC will reveal the fact that the LLRC Report has come out with recommendations that DE-CONSTRUCT the Sinhala – Theravada Buddhist nationalism based on the false and imaginary doctrine: Sinhala – Sinhalese – Theravada Buddhism – Lanka with one – to – one correspondence!

    The impact of implementing the recommendations in the island and the Indian Ocean only made India and a group of countries to support the Resolution tabled by the USA, and the other group Russia, China, Cuba etc. to oppose.

    The strategy for the domination of Indian Ocean states and the globe has been changed by the West and its allies. Russia has been check mated by complete de-construction of the Russian Empire. De-construction of the Middle East region is still going on.It will be completed with Iran!

    Once the De-construction of the Indian Ocean states is completed, China and Russia will not be able to dominate the globe for another 50 years!

    The best and wise thing for the Sinhala nation and its Government is to make our Lanka a multi-religious, multi-lingual, multi-cultural country without any further delay!!!

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      Hey Abhimanasingham,
      Would you be kind enough to send me the contact details of the all mighty god?Millions of Buddhists are interested in joining the world’s only non violence religion.Oh! we could always say that the god fearing Americans are on a killing spree in Iraq and Afghanistan because that dirty fellow Satan has misled them.I wouldn’t even try to do something dirty because the all mighty god is peeping from somewhere.In case i get into mischief,i can always say that it was the works of Satan the dirty bugger and get away with anything including adultery and murder.

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        The cardboard Satan wears a red scarf and sandals. He speaks in Tamil at the UN. And his followers carry humanitarian charters everywhere they go. Have you seen him lately?

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    Let’s learn the right lessons from the Geneva outcome

    Yes, let’s learn the right lessons:

    – That Mahinda Rajapakse is not a statesmen but a village clown

    – That no amount of press censorship in SL can keep the truth hidden forever

    – That those puppets in Paris, New York, and Sydney, who occupy much-vaunted “ambassadorial” positions, and whitewash atrocities, are guilty of aiding and abetting their Temple Trees master in genocide and crimes against humanity

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      Is it that poor “Velu” with his eyes popping out with misbelief at Nandikadal,staring at the village clown’s theatrics?

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    i did not read DJ’s article here ( normally i don’t read any of his essays but do read his comments )
    i assume he must have tried his level best to portray himself as the sole winner of 2009 short sighted temporary victory and goes on bragging how efficient & effective his team and himself , and highlighting the short comings of this session with regards to Indian diplomacy.
    all the government paid stooges will point their fingers at India , USA, Europe etc , but no body will point their fingers at this junta regime , the real problem lies there , Ali baba & his thief’s miserably failed to act on their own LLRC interim proposals , do any meaningful confident building mechanism to win hears & minds of Tamil people , instead all of them were in deep slumber until mid Jan 2012 , then only they realized there is a UNHRC session on march and started behaving like headless chicken.
    Believe or not , i did my maths earlier and figured out it would be 24 favor for the resolution, 11 oppose and 11 abstain (i thought Libya will not get the chance to vote ). i was surprised by India’s sudden change of hearts ( i expected India to abstain ) there is no rocket science here , any sensible person could see this out come well in advance if you can think independently.

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      Do you read that human rights wonder boy,Paki’s articles?

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        Dear Max ,

        no i haven’t , any thing interesting ?
        there are so many to read max , so i pick & choose.

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    What a lot of useless puffery and hot air – as usual – from the usual suspects – Dayan J., the Tin Soldier, Blacker, the Mad Max et al! Doesn’t it ever cross your twisted minds that the solution to Sri Lanka’s problems, even at this very late stage, is to stop behaving like violent thugs and TRY to behave like a civilized democracy. But then, it is all gone long past that stage and we can only wait for the “new holocaust” that these people will bring upon an island that once promised so much.

    Pity!

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      Borukaraya,
      What problems you are talking about?If any pl consult Dr Paki.I am sure that he will show you the way out of problems.$$$$$$$$$$.

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    In srilanka we have plenty of doctorate guys.. The best is Dr.Mervin Silva.. The next is Dr.Dayan Jayatillake. But for most.. both look to be same.

    It seems all the lunatics in SL has got a doctorate.
    (Or they became lunatic after getting the doctorate????????)

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