World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

Navi Pillay: Meaningful UN Statement ON Human Rights

Navi Pillay Has Made the Most Meaningful Statement Ever Made By the UN On the Human Rights Situation

Before leaving Sri Lanka after her week-long visit the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, made a media statement in which she expressed her deep concern about Sri Lanka heading in an "increasingly authoritarian direction". She said,

"I am deeply concerned that Sri Lanka, despite the opportunity provided by the end of the war to construct a new vibrant, all-embracing state, is showing signs of heading in an increasingly authoritarian direction".

The Sri Lankan government has criticised this statement as transgressing her mandate and the basic norms which should be observed by a discerning international civil servant. Authoritarian governments always try to portray the issue of authoritarianism as being a political one rather than a human rights issue. That is quite understandable as the heart of authoritarianism is the destruction of the civil liberties of the individual.

However, authoritarianism is the most crucial problem of human rights and where it appears no one who holds a mandate for the protection and promotion of human rights and no discerning civil servant, international or otherwise, can ignore it. High Commissioner Pillay in boldly raising this issue has shown her maturity as a great human rights defender and proven her capacity for leadership in the field of human rights when dealing with the most difficult problem which negates human rights, authoritarianism.

In raising the issue of authoritarianism in relation to Sri Lanka she has virtually given a new direction to the United Nations in its efforts on human rights as well as to the international community and the civil society in Sri Lanka. From now on in all efforts relating to human rights in Sri Lanka the focus needs to be on the fundamental negation of human rights by way of authoritarianism.

Long years of conflict between the LTTE and the government resulted in creating great confusion on the actual nature of political development in Sri Lanka. The 1978 project of displacing Sri Lankan democracy by way of a new order imposed through the Constitution was done subtly and every effort was made to camouflage the actual aim of the Constitution which was aimed at introducing authoritarianism.

The enormous violence that was a result of this conflict diverted everyone's attention to what was then called "the war". This environment did not leave must room for reasonable discourse and the absence of such discourse was also one of the reasons why the overall transformation into authoritarianism went unnoticed. The architect of the constitution, J.R. Jayewardene, quite cleverly manipulated "the war" to prevent popular resistance against his attempt to displace Sri Lankan democracy.

The more things became polarised in military terms the more the political project became invisible. The LTTE also took advantage of the situation and attempted to portray the idea that Sri Lanka's fundamental conflict was about ethnicity. The propaganda stance was necessary in order to justify the demand for a separate state and to justify armed conflict as the only way to get it.

"The war" not only confused the local population but it also thoroughly confused the international community. No one noticed the transformation of Sri Lanka into a dictatorship and the demands of the international community including also the UN agencies were to find a solution to the military conflict. The discourse of about 25 years was totally confined within the paradigm of the ethnic discourse and the peace discourse.

There were some voices in the wilderness like that of the Asian Human Rights Commission which kept the focus on exposing the scheme behind the 1978 Constitution and the ever increasing authoritarianism in the country. However, such voices were unable to get much attention as the violence and the war occupied everyone's minds.

It took nearly four years for the people of the world to even begin to recognise that they had been mislead and that the fundamental problem of Sri Lanka was one of undermining democracy and the rule of law which, in turn, was a problem affecting the human rights OF ALL.

The High Commissioner, Navanethem Pillay's intervention will now inform the world of a new perspective on the human rights issues in Sri Lanka. Within this overall perspective of the ever-increasing authoritarianism and the ever growing polarization of the population against such authoritarianism new strategies will need to be developed. She has identified the heart of the problem. What is needed now is to identify the ways to overcome this problem.

It is to be hoped that the local civil society and the international community will rise to the occasion and respond to the call of the High Commissioner and begin to grapple with the ways to overcome authoritarianism and the reestablish the rule of law within the framework of democracy.

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Tigray: Eritrean Refugees ‘scared And Struggling To Eat’ Amid Aid Obstacles
For the first time in weeks, aid teams have reached refugee camps in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, only to find that some Eritrean nationals living there have likely died of preventable diseases, while others are “scared and struggling to get enough to eat”, the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, said on Friday...
More>>

UN News: Rare Coral Reef Discovered Near Tahiti Is ‘Like A Work Of Art’, Says Diver
One of the largest coral reefs in the world has been discovered by a UN-supported scientific mission off the coast of Tahiti. Announcing the stunning find on Thursday, UNESCO said that divers had explored large rose-shaped corals spanning some three kilometres, at depths of between 30 and 65 metres... More>>


Tonga Eruption: At Least 3 Dead, Amid Severe Destruction
At least three people have died in Tonga following the massive volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami wave that hit over the weekend. Homes and other buildings across the archipelago have suffered major damage... More>>

Ethiopia: UN Chief Lauds ‘Demonstrable Effort To Make Peace’

The UN Secretary-General on Wednesday said he was “delighted” to learn that “a demonstrable effort to make peace” in Ethiopia is finally underway, according to information relayed to him by the African Union High Representative for the Horn of Africa... More>>


Tigray: Agencies Suspend Aid As ‘Scores’ Are Killed Due To Airstrikes
Recent airstrikes on camps for internally displaced persons and refugees in Tigray, northern Ethiopia, have reportedly killed scores of civilians, including children, and left many more injured... More>>


UN News: For 25th Year In A Row, Greenland Ice Sheet Shrinks

2021 marked the 25th year in a row in which the key Greenland ice sheet lost more mass during the melting season, than it gained during the winter, according to a new UN-endorsed report issued on Friday... More>>


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC