Sri Lanka

You are here

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Email
  • Whatsapp
  • Linkedin
  • Print
  • A New Era in Sri Lanka’s Politics?

    A New Era in Sri Lanka’s Politics?

    Sirisena will be expected to restore both the institutional checks and balances which saw an erosion as a result of the 18th Amendment to the constitution and the faith of minorities in the pluralistic character of Sri Lankan society.

    January 12, 2015

    Bidisha asked: What could be the implications of India's abstention from the recent UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka?

    Gulbin Sultana replies: Though India had abstained from voting, the resolution A/HRC/25/1 on “promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka” was passed at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on March 27, 2014 by a vote of 23 in favour of it.

    Bhushan asked: In 1987, Sri Lanka had to change its constitution through the 13th Amendment. Wasn't it an encroachment on its sovereignty by India?

    S.D. Muni replies: The 13th Amendment was necessitated by the Sri Lankan Government’s commitments made under July 1987 Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement. This Agreement addressed the ethnic issue of Sri Lanka wherein India undertook to help Sri Lanka fight the Tamil militancy and the Sri Lankan Government agreed to accommodate Tamil grievances and devolve power to them. Where was the violation of Sovereignty of Sri Lanka in this?

    Maritime Security Trilateralism: India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives

    India has stepped up its efforts to cooperate on security issues in general and on maritime security in particular with its island neighbours in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). At the core of this lies the initiative to build a trilateral maritime arrangement with Sri Lanka and the Maldives. It is in this larger context that the second National Security Advisors’ (NSAs) meeting took place in Colombo in July 2013.

    May 2014

    India’s abstention in the vote against Sri Lanka at Geneva: Likely Implications

    Despite its abstention, India will continue to be evaluated negatively in Sri Lanka for its approach to the Tamil issue. Moreover, Colombo is also taking steps which may unnecessarily complicate bilateral relations.

    April 16, 2014

    Prathap Singh asked: What are the implicit interests of the US in sponsoring a resolution in the UNHRC against Sri Lanka? What is India’a stand on the resolution?

    Gulbin Sultana replies: Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora in the US have effectively influenced the members of the Congress and the Department of State through US lobbying firms to sponsor resolutions in the UNHRC against Sri Lanka. The United States Tamil Political Action Council (USTPAC) reportedly used the Washington lobbying firm, KSCW Inc., to table Resolution 177 against Sri Lanka in the US House with 53 signatures which included influential and prominent house members in 2012. The USTPAC reportedly invested US$ 30, 000 to get H. Resolution 177 tabled. The USTPAC is also said to have influenced Congressmen Danny Davis (D-IL) and Bill Johnson (R-OH) to spearhead Congressional Caucus on Ethnic and Religious Freedom in Sri Lanka. The Caucus launched at the US Congress in November 2013, played a major role in initiating resolution against Sri Lanka at the 25th session of the UNHRC.

    Since the end of Eelam War IV in May 2009, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has passed four resolutions on Sri Lanka: the first resolution was passed on May 27, 2009 during the special session on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka; second on March 22, 2012 during the 19th session of the UNHRC; third on March 21, 2013 during the 22nd session of the UNHRC; and, the fourth resolution was passed on March 27, 2014 during the 25th session of the UNHRC. In 2009, India voted in favour of Sri Lanka, but in 2012 and 2013 India voted against Sri Lanka. In 2014, India abstained from voting since the latest resolution called for an international investigative mechanism, which was considered by India as an intrusive approach.

    Posted on April 15, 2014

    India needs nuanced approach post-UNHRC Vote on Sri Lanka

    It would appear that India accorded preponderance to the broader interests of national sovereignty before its final stand on the UNHRC resolution. But it also cannot be oblivious to the likelihood of parallels being drawn in the future by some countries inimical to India.

    April 04, 2014

    The issue of de-militarisation of Northern Province of Sri Lanka

    De-militarisation per se is a sensitive issue, however, it is of essence that the Sri Lanka armed forces` role vis-à-vis the provincial administrations or even in the larger island-nation context be re-defined. It be a good idea to engage the SLA in project activities and relocate the army throughout the country and not be exclusively entrenched in the northern province.

    March 13, 2014

    Governance in Northern Province of Sri Lanka: Stresses and Strains

    It is essential to codify the executive instructions for administering the northern province under some statutory rules issued at the provincial level with concurrence of the central government. The statutory rules should not leave any scope for cognizance of directives or advice from the provincial governor to the provincial officials.

    January 21, 2014

    Shivaji asked: What exactly is the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution? What is President Rajapaksa's promise of ‘13th Amendment Plus’ approach?

    Gulbin Sultana replies: The Sri Lankan Parliament passed the Thirteenth Amendment to the constitution on November 14, 1987 with the objective of creating provincial councils based on the provisions of the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord of July 1987; also, the establishment of a high court in each province, and to make Tamil one of the official languages with English as the link language. In this regard, Article 18, 138, 155 and 170 of the 1978 Constitution were amended and Chapter XVII A consisting of Article 154A to 154T and Eighth and Ninth schedule were added by the Thirteenth Amendment.

    The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution provides for:

    • The establishment of Provincial Councils
    • The appointment and powers of the Governor of Provinces
    • Membership and tenure of Provincial Councils
    • The appointment and powers of the Board of Ministers
    • The legislative powers of the Provincial Councils
    • Alternative arrangements where there is a failure in the administrative machinery
    • The establishment of the Finance Commission.
    • Tamil as an official language
    • English as a link language
    • The establishment of the High Court of the Province

    ‘13th Amendment Plus’
    After the defeat of the LTTE, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa had given assurance to India as well as the international community that the government would go beyond the Thirteenth Amendment to devolve substantial powers to the Tamil majority areas under ‘13th Amendment Plus.’ However, President Rajapaksa never made it clear what exactly he meant by ‘13th Amendment Plus.’ Rajapaksa had also talked about creating an upper house to the parliament or a senate to ensure more minority participation. Interestingly, it was said that when former Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon asked President Rajapaksa whether ‘13th amendment plus’ meant establishing a senate to the parliament, the latter had nodded in affirmation.

    However, given the continuing opposition of the Sinhala nationalist parties to the Thirteenth Amendment, Rajapaksa Government now wants to dilute the amendment by not implementing the provisions which provide limited land and police powers to the provincial council. Thus, though the president had promised for ‘13th Amendment Plus,’ but technically speaking, he is now talking about ‘13th Amendment Minus.’ As of now, he has left the final decision to the Parliament Select Committee appointed for reviewing the provisions of the Thirteenth Amendment.

    Posted on January 20, 2014