International response to Sri Lanka war after the end of CFA

March 14th, 2008

by Col R Hariharan (retd.)

The European Union’s decision to renew the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) plus scheme provided for Sri Lanka’s exports for another three years from January 2009, despite its adverse reaction to the ending of the ceasefire agreement (CFA) by Sri Lanka government. (The GSP plus concession enables Sri Lanka to export its goods and products to the EU at reduced or exempted tax and duty levies.) This decision comes in the face of strong stand taken by Germany on this issue. In an interview published on February 9 Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, had said that if Sri Lanka continued with the military option without seeking credible political solution to the conflict in Sri Lanka she would demand the EU to withdraw the GSP offered to Sri Lanka.

This clearly illustrated the ambivalence between thought and action that underlines the response of international community in responding to contentious issues. This applies not only to the Sri Lanka issue, but many other similar global issues.

There has been widespread international concern at the growing human rights violations and disregard for humanitarian concerns in Sri Lanka ever since the security forces went on the offensive against in December 2005. Sri Lanka’s reluctance to allow international involvement in either monitoring or improving the Human Rights situation has not endeared it to other nations even while the CFA was in force. This concern has been compounded by major escalation in the Eelam war-4 resulting in heavy loss of life since then. Moreover, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) response to the security forces offensive with series of blasts and killings targeting civilians in the south has further compounded international concerns over the Sri Lanka war.

Undoubtedly these developments have disappointed friendly nations who had put their time and resources in giving form and content to the now defunct peace process 2002. With the security forces on the threshold of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) heartland in the north, the battle would only intensify further, choking the hopes of reviving international mediation process for bringing peace, perhaps irrevocably.

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