GALLE DIALOGUE AN INITIATIVA
OF DEFENCE SECRETARY
The Galle dialogue 2011 (November 14-15), an initiative of Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is the second of the series since the conclusion of the conflict May 2009.
The first was held in Aug. 2010 in Galle Among the countries participated in at two-day event are Australia, France, Japan, Pakistan, South Africa, India, UK ect.
The Galle Dialogue 2011 (November 14-15), an initiative of Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is the second of the series since the conclusion of the conflict May 2009. The first was held in Aug. 2010 in Galle Among the countries participated in at two-day event are Australia, France, Japan, Pakistan, South Africa, India, UK,
the USA, the Maldives, UAE, Bangladesh, Kenya, Nigeria, the Philippines, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Oman and Qatar.
This year’s conference took place in the wake of a declaration by the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2011, in Perth, Westem Australia that tangible action is needed on the part of the international community to restore political and security stability in Somalia. The 54-nation grouping declared that piracy in the Indian Ocean couldn’t be effectively tackled unless the Transitional Federal Government in that country was strengthened. The Commonwealth also called for additional funding for African Union Mission in Somalia as part of their efforts to tackle piracy and terrorism nOW threatening to destabilize shipping routes.
Other than the US, India, China, Pakistan and South Africa also presented papers on ‘Regional maritime cooperation: The way ahead’, ‘Strengthening naval cooperation to maintain maritime security’, ‘Contemporary regional maritime security challenges’ ..and ‘Managing maritime security issues in the region’ respectively.
the passage of time, encompassing all areas of contemporary relevance. The shared cultural and civilizational heritage of the two countries and the extensive people to people interaction of their citizens provide the foundation to build a multi-faceted partnership. In recent years, the relationship has been marked by close contacts at the highest political level, growing trade and investment, cooperation in the fields of development, education, culture and defence, as well as a broad understanding on major issues of international interest.
Sri Lanka has both advantages and disadvantages of its geopolitical location. It has the advantage of being an island with a location in an ocean that is of considerable strategic importance. It has also the disadvantage of being a small power in a region that has been facing great power rivalry, added to the fact that there is a dominant neighbour, India. The Indian case IS further complicated by the existence of a fairly large Tamil minority in the North and North Eastern region of Sri Lanka that has close links to the Tamil Population in India. India has been a supporter of the Indian Ocean Zone of Peace concept that Sri Lanka has Sponsored. To India this concept helps to keep this region outside the scope of great power rivalry. Both the countries are members of the Commonwealth, the SAARC and the NAM.
Sri Lankan Tamil Issue
The need for national reconciliation through a political settlement of the ethnic issue has been reiterated by India at the highest levels. India’s consistent position is in favour of a negotiated political settlement, which is acceptable to all communities within the framework of a united Sri Lanka and which is consistent with democracy, pluralism and respect for human rights. The Government of Sri Lanka has conveyed its assurance that po. litical proposals building on the 13th Amendment to the Constitution will be discussed with the Tamil leadership of the country.
Dynamic Diplomatic Perspective
The United Nation Human Rights Council (UNHRC) approved a U.S.backed resolution that urged the South Asian nation Sri Lanka to probe allegations of summary executions, kidnappings and other abuses, but stopped short of calling for an international investigation.
India, which normally does not vote on nation-specific resolutions, made a last-minute departure in the current instance after overwhelming pressure from parties in Tamil Nadu, especially the DMK which had even considered pulling out its ministers from the government at the Centre, to vote against Sri Lanka. Interestingly, India’s neighbours like China, Pakistan and Bangladesh, voted against the motion. Maldives said the resolution was not necessary and Sri Lanka should be given time to implement the recommendations of ‘ the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).
India was among the 24 countries that voted for the U.S. draft resolution on Sri Lanka’s accountability in respect of human rights violations which was passed at the 19th meeting of the UNHRC at Geneva.
The 47-nation UNHRC passed the resolution with 24 countries in favor, 15 against and eight abstentions. Sri Lanka and its allies on the 47-member council had fiercely resisted the resolution, saying it unduly interfered in the country’s domestic affairs and could hinder its reconciliation process.
By voting for the resolution, India has shown it concurs with two core issues contained in the resolution:
1 Sri Lanka has not adequately taken
up follow up action on the LLRC’s recommendations on a host of issues. It needs “to credibly investigate widespread allegations of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances, demilitarize the north of Sri Lanka, implement impartial land dispute resolution mechanisms, re-evaluate detention policies, strengthen formerly independent civil institutions, reach a political settlement on the devolution of power to the provinces, promote and protect the right of freedom of expression for all and enact rule of law reforms.”
2. The need for Sri Lanka to speedily work out a comprehensive action plan detailing the steps that the Government has taken and will take to implement the recommendations made in the Commission’s report, and also to address alleged violations of international law [presumably including the allegations of war crimes as well].
One of the core aspects of India’s foreign policy has been to build strong strategic, political, and trading relations with Sri Lanka. In the past, India had stood by its ally on a wide range of issues both outside and inside international forums. When Sri Lanka faced a similar predicament in the UNHRC in 2009 India worked behind the scenes to bail out Sri Lanka.
India’s support to the U.S. sponsored resolution was out of sync with other members of the Asian bloc in the UNHRC who did not support the U.S. move. Presumably, India’s vote also influenced a ‘few. other fence sitters to vote in favour and enhanced the cred‑ibility of the resolution. But the fact also remains very crucial that the UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka was advisory in nature, it was not imposing any kind of obligation on Sri Lanka.
In recent years, the UN and its affiliated bodiesthave functioned increasingly as tools of Western imperialism. Sadly, New Delhi has fallen in line like a client state, failing to serve the nation’s interests or to stand by traditional allies. Our pusillanimity in the case of Iran is a case in point; the Sri Lanka vote compounds our shame.