Its now eight years after the war ended and this government has reached out to the Tamil people and is now addressing their genuine grievances in a meaningful manner, though of course the process is taking time and the unfortunate Tamil people who were used and misused by the LTTE in the war (they were from the low castes who had suffered when the Vellalas ruled the North and shut out the other castes till the Karawa led LTTE took over) are yet suffering in many ways.
Having chaired a demining operation with Indian support (funded by Norway) I do have more than a commitment now to see not only that the demining process is completed to enable the affected people to resume their lives after the thirty year war, but equally importantly, to see that our country regains its old image and dignity in the world. There was a time when Sri Lanka played an important role in the affairs of the world; the disarmament campaign was one such instance, our Ambassador Shirley Amerasinghe chaired the Law of the Sea Conference and also presided over the UNGA IN 1976; it was also Sri Lanka that proposed the declaration of the Indian Ocean as a Peace Zone; even in later years we had that distinguished Diplomat Jayantha Dhanapala as Under Secretary-General for Disarmament, chairing the 1995 UN Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty Review Conference – his chairmanship was acclaimed by the P5 and the world; he was virtually offered the Chair of the UN IAEA, but some local elements did not want our government to nominate him and that was how he lost that job which was a stepping stone to the post of SG of the UN (for it was Asia’s turn); that would have put Sri Lanka on the world map.
Our former Ambassador Pallihakara was also recognized by the UN. That of course is the past; in recent years our image has suffered because of the unfortunate war, but now an opportunity has emerged for us to regain our lost image and once again play a role in the affairs of the world. Now that the LTTE insurgency is over and that war is behind us, why have we not become a party to the Ottawa Treaty banning Anti- Personel Land Mines and the Stockholm Convention banning Cluster bombs (these we have never used) and, considering what most unfortunately happened recently, we have already ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) but the government has stll not had the Convention’ principles incorporated into local legislation to implement accepted norms and provisions to promote and protect persons with disabilities.We would, by becoming parties to the cited Agreements and implementing the CRPD, earn the respect and goodwill of the international community and most importantly restore the country’s dignity. Why have we not done this almost a decade after the war ended? Is it that the government’s process of consensus building has not been able to arrive at a consensus or agreement to sign up to the Conventions --- is it because some well meaning elements fear that the war could start again? Which to my mind is most unlikely, but even if it did, after we had become parties to the earlier mentioned Conventions, we could always suspend our obligations under the Treaties, if the necessity arises, until such time as we deal with the threat, so there is no reason whatsoever for us not to sign the Ottawa Convention and the Cluster Munitions Convention; if we sign these treaties we may even be able to host the next meeting of the one hundred plus States that are parties to the Conventions, that would Brand our country and give a huge boost to our country’s image and also raise the statures of President Maitripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. The President and the Prime Minister, should act now for the betterment of the people and the country.
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