For firmer and finer International Relations

(Current Trends in International Affairs in relation to Sri Lanka)

By Sarath Wijesinghe

(July 08, Collombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Current trends in international affairs are changing faster in relating to Sri Lanka. What are the most important trends relating to Sri Lanka in the recent past? The recent victory of Sri Lanka in the United Nations Human Rights Council is remarkable convincing and unique. (vide article by the author on human rights and human shields on Sunday Observer dated 3rd March 2009) It has shown a clear polarization a demarcation and the current world trend which is obviously not static. (vide foreign policy in Sri Lanka dated 22/6/2008 Sunday Observer by the author) In world politics too there are no permanent friends or enemies. It is well documented that the great victory by Sri Lanka on “war on terror” is unprecedented and unparalleled.

It is a classic textbook example of an anti-terror campaign in a democratic society. (vide right to defend the Nation is a collective “Human Right” 1st June 2008 by the author in Sunday observer). Then who are behind the success and the victory on this greatest diplomatic victory in the crucial and decisive stage in Sri Lankan history. Correct Foreign Policy and how the Head of the state and the Foreign Minister conducted themselves and conducted foreign policy and foreign relations are main contributors of the success story of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s prime location in prime maritime real estate has elevated it to the jewel in the crown of the new Indian power structure. Powerful Neighbours in the Indian Ocean were careful of the way Sri Lanka conduct the foreign relations. ( Vide SAARC as a vehicle for peace and prosperity by the author on 4th Feb. 2009 in Daily News) Due credit should be given to the heroic forces in elimination the terror for ever. On the other hand in this computer age wars can not be won on the ground alone. President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama had to work round the clock and behind the screen in combating the cold war from the West, NGO’s and the LTTE front Organisations backed by enormous funding and international backing.( vida NGOsm and Kosovnisation by the author Sunday Observer dated 30/3/20008 Sunday Observer) Pressure exerted by world leaders and NGO’s on MR and FM has been enormous, and to their credit they stood firm and steady.( Legal basis of International Pressure by the author on Sunday Observer 10/may /2009)

Then what is our foreign policy and how did we conduct our foreign relations in this crucial juncture. Mahinda Chintanaya the Policy document of Mahinda Rajapaksa administration briefly spells out the foreign policy and conduct of international relations as follows.

* I will follow a non-alignment, free and progressive foreign Policy

* Priority will be given in the political, defence, economic, trade and cultural spheres to the cordial and friendly relationships that we already have with countries in the Asian region including India, Japan China and Pakistan.

* It is my belief that United Nations Organisations and International financial institutions should be more democratic and we sill actively intervene in this regard.

* It is my intention to strongly implement international treatises and declarations on anti corruption.

* I will create a foreign service which has a correct awareness of our history, economic needs and the cultural heritage.

* A new International Research Institute will be established in order to have access and share global data on new innovativeness and new concepts and interventions

* I believe that world must come to an agreement to convert global warming and prevent weather and climatic changes I will give my support to implement Kyoto Declaration in this regard.

International relations are the study of foreign affairs and global issues within the international system including role of states, international organisations, non governmental organisations and multinational organisations which formulates foreign policy. “The Foreign Policy of a country is a set of rules that seeks to outline the behaviour of a particular country and how it interacts with other countries and international organisations. This mainly depends on internal and external political global and economic considerations” (vide the article by this author on Sunday observer 27th July 2007 on the topic foreign Policy and SAARC) .This is the study of foreign affairs and global issues among states including role of states and international organisations. Mahindana Chintanaya document briefly spells out the main points in relation to international affairs. Changes proposed by Mahinda Chantanaya for changes to the United Nations which replaced League of Nations for more teeth and transparency is very appropriate. (vide right to defend the Nation is a collective “Human Right” Sunday Observer on 1st June 2008 ) UN has not been effective and living up to the expected expectations of the world family despite much criticism and suggestion for changes by member countries.

Formulation and the foreign Policy is the Job of the Head of the State and the Foreign Minister who is generally regarded as the most senior ministerial position just below the head of the government, often granted to the deputy Prime Minister. Foreign Minister is responsible for diplomatic duties and a person well travelled and a person who could walk with Kings and still be in touch with the international realities and the requirements in the country He/She represents. In the United Kingdom Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Commonwealth Affairs and in the USA the Secretary of State are in the forefront in the management of the foreign policy of the Nation. Foreign Policy “Doctrine” is the policy statement of the Head of the Nation and the foreign policy of the nation during his regime which is well known. Nixon’s Doctrine of withdrawal of Vietnam and Bush Doctrine is well known as much as Barak Obama Administration which has an impact on the foreign policies of the other parts of the world. Obama is flanked with the policy advisers Hillary Clinton, James Jones and Susan Rice, who has formulated the objectives as follows.

Responsibility to end the wars, build central military system, stop spreading weapons of mass destruction, form alliances to counter common threats, and help other citizens of these nations to sustain them is the main theme of the new Obama Doctrine which will be conducted and modified by the most powerful man in the Globe based on his style of doing thighs. Sri Lankan foreign relations has been on non aligned policy, yet had closer relations with USA since 1977 and a founder member of the Non Alignment movement, members of SAARC, World Bank, IMF, Asian development Bank and Colombo plan and currently holding the Chair of the SAARC regional organisation which is developing fast in line with EU the most vibrant and developed regional organisation. SAARC and member countries are united in combating terrorism. Sri Lanka went through the agony of terror regime for over 3 decades, and the, loss of human lives are un paralleled. Mahinda policy document has mooted an undivided country, a national consensus, and an honourable peace by renouncing separatism. MR regime crushed LTTE terrorism with the able assistance of the forces despite pressure from NGO,s and some western countries. At some stage it has come to a tussle between the “West and the Rest”, though most western countries proscribed the LTTE and agitated against terrorism. Apparently the LTTE and the front organisations have been active and powerful.

Indian foreign policy is well known as stable, static and non aligned. Governments may change but the Indian foreign policy will bring about only minute adjustments. The main difference with Sri Lankan foreign policy is the impact of India due to the enormity and the disproportionate sizes of the two nations geographically placed so close to each other and culturally and socially interwoven with each other and SAARC countries as well.” South Asian Regional (SAARC) was established in 1985, initially by heads of states of Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Afginastan joined the Regional organisation on April 8 2006 and today Foreign Ministers of the SAARC countries agreed on principle to grant observer states to South Korea, European Union, and the United States. We are a respected and a senior member of the world family, having hosted many international events. During Madam Bandaranayke’s time our relations with India and the world have been at the peak. There were declines subsequently due to the mismanagement of the foreign policy for which both India and Sri Lanka have paid the highest price”( vida article by this author on Sunday Observer 20th July 2008) . This is an indication of the collective foreign policy of the SAARC countries their thinking and aspirations. “Sri Lankan relations with India dates back to thousands of years. Closeness has developed close and permanent bonds between both Nations. King Asoka who sent his son Mahinda and daughter Sangamitta as emissaries to propagate Buddhism in Sri Lnaka conquered the whole India but left Sri Lanka due to close friendship between the two Kings and the management of correct foreign policy.” (Article by the author in Sunday observer dated 16th November 2008 on Indu Sri Lanka relations).” Both India and Sri Lanka has been colonised by the British with whom Sri Lanka maintained close and friendly relations having embraced the system of education, administration, governance trade and the principles of International relations” ( please read the article on UK Sri Lanka relations by the author on 22nd June 2008 by the author in Sunday observer)

Elimination of terrorism from Sri Lanka has been a day dream for many. But President Rajapaksa, Gotabaya the Defence Secretary and others in the centre were confident of the victory and had a plan of action from the inception of the election victories. It is after few minutes of the declaration of the victory as the President of Sri Lanka, MR told Gotabaya of his appointment as the next Defence Secretary. When Gotabays gave MR the long list of arms and ammunitions MR agreed to give everything and any other facilities with no hesitation, despite the financial constraints. The long drawn war on terror had direct impact on foreign policy, economy and security of the country. Episode in 1987, Indo-Sri Lanka Accord and the unfortunate misunderstanding with India is a result of mismanagement of Foreign Policy where JRJ had to change the foreign policy overnight to accommodate Prime Minister Rajive Gandi who paid the highest price for the misunderstanding which could have resolved with mild diplomacy, as has been dome by Madam Bandaranayaka who had excellent relations with India and Indra Gandi the celebrated Prime Minister of India and a close friend of Madam Sirimavo Bandaranayaka. Peaceful and successful resolution of Kaththative issue, Stateless issue of Indian Labour and many other issues were resolved amicably due to diplomacy and personal friendship of the leaders of the two nations and correct and friendly foreign policy. But unfortunately LTTE swayed the entire foreign policy of JRJ and Sri Lanka during 1987 Indu Sri Lanka Accord which is well documented. MR had to work hard with FM to put things in the correct tract and to his credit and diplomacy today Indo Sri Lankan relations is at the peak. MR is developing personal and diplomatic relations with world leaders using his charm and friendly manners and is the emerging world leader loved by many ably assisted by the able FM with strength vigour and personality to attract the colleagues. In the world family too the members have their own problems issues and differences. Every leader is patriotic and selfish towards his nation. India is famous for hung parliaments and coalitions and the zenith of the war on terror in Sri Lanka ( Read Sunday observer by the author countering Tiger propaganda 9/3/2008 Sunday Observer) at a crucial stage of the Indian Elections, thereby even the Indian Congress with traditional friendships with Sri Lanka and MR had to be cautious. It has been a case of shuttle diplomacy by MR and FM to put things on the tract. Fortunately MR and FM has been a good match and understood each other. Both being village products and hard workers mobilized the Missions and the resources carefully and strategically for a rainy day. MR has turned to be a brilliant speaker of world class, and accepted as an able and reliable world statesman and a strategist locally and internationally. FM’s contribution and assistance is a key to the success of diplomacy and achievements in world affairs in relation to Sri Lanka.

MR’s recent statements on India speak thousands of worlds on Indo Sri Lankan foreign policy and diplomacy. He said “Nothing is more important to me than what India thinks”. This is a casual and firm statement made during an interview with a world renewed journalist who further questioned on the financial credit line given by China to Hambantota Harbour and also Indian interests in Sri Lanka. MR promptly said that he first offered of Hambantota harbour was initially offered to India and if India is still willing to give a credit line and assistance they can have KKS - another strategic harbour in the East. MR was sorry that LTTE killed Rajive - the greatest Indian he can think of and that “he fought and won LTTE war for India and the Gandi family.” too in addition to liberating Sri Lanka on terror. What more guarantee and security than this to the regional power, by the younger brother and a powerful neighbour in the region. MR further declared that” he will never allow Sri Lanka to be used for anti Indian Action”. This shows the prominence given to Indian Relations as promised in the policy document Mahinda Chintanaya. He is the Head of the State whose statements are considered as part of Law according to International Law. Statements and Declarations of heads of states form part of Law which is the accepted practice in the legal system of the world family. He further stated that this is a part of South Asian campaign against terrorism and planning to visit India and Tamil Nadu in particular in due course. The sudden and frequent shuttle diplomacy of MR and FM paid dividends at the final voting and changing the world opinion in our favour which has not being done overnight. It took months of planning and visiting selected world leaders in turn and continuous shuttle diplomacy and personnel contacts backed by Diplomatic Missions.

The recent unprecedented victory in the United Nations Human Rights Commission is the zenith of the victorious achievements ( vida - human rights situation in Sri Lanka the real truth by the author 16th March) of international standards in Sri Lanka. While thanking our friends in need for supporting us, it is our duty to educate the misguided and misunderstood members of the world family - especially the west on the correct situation. We must ascertain how we are placed and considered globally in the field of Human Rights and international affairs. Unfortunately west maintained double standards in judging human rights due to pressure and misdirection by LTTE front organisations which are now in shambles. In 1966 US Secretary of State Maldelene Albright admitted that trade sanctions killed half a million children but it has been a hard choice to combat terrorism though in the end no weapons of mass destructions were found. No charges of war crimes were framed though they spoke of framing charges on Sri Lankan forces which is the most disciplined and advanced forces that crushed the most feared and powerful terrorist organisation inclusive of navel, air ground powers and a powerful international network. New world order countries stick to against west’s double standards and hypocrisy and humanitarian imperialism. But the good news is MR and FM is making steps to mend boarders of friendship and diplomacy with the west in the midst of unexpected success, which has relieved the world over including the west. We are so close to the west in many ways where our education, system of governance industry and economy is interconnected and interwoven and it is in the best interest of all parties to review old pleasant relations and bonds. It is a matter of time and few attempts knowing the talents and warmth of MR who is famous for making friendships with Nations and leaders.( vide the article by the author on UK Sri Lanka ties at the peak on 22/june 2008) India indicated concerns of civilians but most happiest and relieved of the success of Sri Lanka. MR is an emerging world leader with a new and a unique vision with Home Grown proposals ( vide the authors article Home Grown solution for the peace process in Daily News on 18th March 2008) to end conflicts created by alien involvements and forces. We pray MR’s leadership for 1/4th of the population as the SAARC leader and the leadership for the majority of the world family on countering terror will catalyze the emergence of a new era with peace and prosperity.

(MR Mahinda Rajapaksa / FM foreign Minister- author’s articles referred could be retrieved from the internet)-

(The writer, Solicitor in England and Wales- Chairperson SAARC study Centre in the United Kingdom- He can be reached at
-Sri Lanka Guardian