13 September 2007
Though only recently invested in international law, the world is already facing a rhetoric-implementation gap on R2P. Recent calls, such as outlined in a International Crisis Group (ICG) report setting out the case for international intervention in Sri Lanka, couched in the language of the doctrine Responsibility to Protect or R2P, is a far cry from its embryonic use in Serbia where the wishes of the Kosovan Albanian community have been taken up by the most powerful states.
() However since Kosovo, the architects responsible for framing the legality of the R2P doctrine have aimed to limit such intervention to ackling the crisis by formulating responses and solutions that work by nevertheless maintaining the territorial integrity of the offending state.
() However, though only recently invested in international law, the world is already facing a rhetoric-implementation gap on R2P.
Put loosely, states wishing to implement the doctrine are too often likely to do so for divergent and self-serving reasons, so whilst the theory is sound, implementation is often weak or skewed.
() Therefore opposition to and manipulation of international law and binding UN resolutions means that questions of intervention become more politico-legal and are not as clear cut as advocates of external intervention on behalf of human rights might hope.
Despite the responsibilities of states and the obligations of the international community being clearly stated in the resolutions permitting intervention under R2P this still occurs. Consequently intervention by the UN or other UN authorized forces often becomes bogged down in the political dynamics of the offending state.
() Therefore, if as some are arguing, the time has come for R2P to be used in Sri Lanka, the question becomes which organization or nation(s) would intervene; what are their motivations, and what would the outcome be?
It is well known and documented that successive Sri Lankan Governments have and continue to undertake acts of violence against the Tamil community. Most manifestly the state not only failed to protect Tamil civilians from Sinhalese mobs in lack July 1983, it actively supported the pogrom.
() With the mountain of evidence strongly showing the extra-judicial violence undertaken by Sri Lankan security forces; the proliferation of paramilitaries, ethnic cleansing and colonisation, etc, intervention can be argued under international law as necessary.
() Therefore, it should be theoretically possible to gain a UN resolution backing intervention to protect Tamil civilians.
However, there have not been any serious follow up by the international community with credible explorations as to the implementation of R2P.
() The stark difference between rhetoric and implementation of R2P and opposition to intervention by key states is not uncommon - UN intervention in Kosovo was vetoed by Russia, citing opposition to UN interference in the nternal affairs of its friend and long time ally, Serbia. This continues to today with Serbian-Russian opposition to an independent Kosovo. ()
Sri Lankas post-independence history shows that Tamils have no stake in the Sinhala project that is the Sri Lankan state. This is why the Tamil struggle came about.
Amid the multi-faceted brutality being visited on our people, the time has come to realise our right to rule ourselves in an independent state.
If international intervention is to take place in Sri Lanka it should mirror the Kosovo intervention, recognizing the crimes being committed against our people and accepting that independence from Sinhala rule is the only solution for the Tamil question.
Full text available at: http://www.tamilguardian.com/article.asp?articleid=1390