From ‘Transition’ to ‘Transformation’ – A New Approach to Post-Conflict Justice

In recent years there has been an increase in the number of countries considered ‘in transition’, however of nearly hundred of those countries only a handful can be considered to be moving towards successful, well-functioning democracies.  It is not a surprise considering that transitional justice is founded on westen-liberal peace theories, and promotes a one-size fits all solution to redress violations committed during conflicts or authoritarian regimes – and does not look much further than that.

Over the years Sri Lanka too has been grappling with ‘transitional justice’; trying to set up mechanisms in order to adhere to the standards of the international community, however, nothing constructive has come out of it. I have been studying this concept in the context of Sri Lanka, possibly for the past 6 years, and what has dawned on me time and time again is that the focus needs to change from a process that is run by the politicians and elites of the country (and outside the country) to one that is completely embedded in the grassroots.

A fundamental weakness of transitional justice is that it takes place at the top (i.e the process is run by governments, international and national bodies)¹.  This prevents the results expected to reach deep into the soil of the society². This explains, at least partly, why there seems to be little or no effect from the transitional justice process thus far. Therefore, it seems timely that an emerging concept – Transformative Justice – be introduced to the Sri Lankan post-conflict context. Continue reading “From ‘Transition’ to ‘Transformation’ – A New Approach to Post-Conflict Justice”

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Winning the Peace Through Reconciliation: A Case Study of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka concluded a brutal civil war between the state and the separatist group in May 2009. Since then the president of Sri Lanka appointed the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) to investigate human rights violations and present recommendations to achieve reconciliation in Sri Lanka.

This dissertation seeks to understand the concept of reconciliation and how it has been applied in Sri Lanka and the impact it has had on the society in Sri Lanka. The research involves interviews with NGOs in Sri Lanka and outside Sri Lanka who works towards reconciliation and sustainable peace in Sri Lanka.

Through this research what we have come to understand is that whilst many great recommendations have been made by the LLRC, the implementation of these recommendations has been a failure. What we have further come to understand is that whilst the government is developing infrastructure and the economy, nothing much has been done to heal the emotional wounds of the war affected people. Therefore, NGOs have been instrumental in giving their knowledge and experience in finding an effective way to go about achieving reconciliation in Sri Lanka. Whilst many further recommendations were made by the NGO representatives interviewed, what stood out most was that the Sri Lankan government should be open to involving third parties , such as local NGOs and international bodies, in the reconciliation process in order to make it more efficient, effective and successful, to see a Sri Lanka that has been healed of its wounds and taking a path towards sustainable peace.

To download the full dissertation Click Here

Zero Dark Thirty – Is It Conveying the Right Message?

MV5BMTQ4OTUyNzcwN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTQ1NDE3OA@@._V1_SX214_Yesterday whilst visiting family I watched the film ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, which narrates the capture and killing of the most wanted terrorist at the time, Osama Bin Laden, by American troupes. Whilst overall it was a well produced film, the first 10-15 minutes of the film was painful to watch; it made me extremely uncomfortable and angry because it went against everything I have learnt about international human rights law. While I admire the creators of this film, and respect the real life heroes who were brave enough to venture this dangerous operation, and most of all the woman who was the mastermind of the operation, I would like to present my criticism about what I learned from the first few scenes of the film. Continue reading “Zero Dark Thirty – Is It Conveying the Right Message?”

In the shoes of Nimalaruban’s Parents

Whilst going through ‘Groundviews’ I came across the link to this shocking and disturbing article (http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/7855). It’s about the murder of 28-year-old Nimalaruban from Vavuniya, allegedly by state authorities.  I’m surprised that I didn’t come across it much sooner (see http://groundviews.org/2012/07/31/ganesan-nimalaruban-a-damning-murder-funeral-and-silence/ ).

I will not speculate the authenticity of this story, there is always two sides to a story, but considering that it is true, there are a few things that I would like to draw attention to that will help the reconciliation process of Sri Lanka.

First of all, I was saddened by just reading what the parents would have gone through, not only that they  were unable to understand completely what was going on due to the language barrier, but just being sent from place to place with no proper direction, and not being able to see their son for five days, whilst being told that he was in a seriously critical condition. I was sitting on my desk, safe and sound, but my body felt like it was somewhere else, frozen, my eye threatening to tear.

Continue reading “In the shoes of Nimalaruban’s Parents”

Cultural Rights Vs. Women’s Rights: How do we strike a balance?

Image courtesy of: http://www.pakistanlaw.net
Image courtesy of: http://www.pakistanlaw.net

This is a paper I wrote for one of my modules last term for MA International Politics and Human Rights, I enjoyed researching for it and writing it so much that I think it will be a waste not to share it with you. Here is a shortened version of it, hope you like it and your comments are deeply appreciated: 

 

In an ideal world all human beings will be treated equally, regardless of their gender or ethnicity. In fact, article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” However in reality this is not practiced. The universality of human rights, especially when it comes to women’s rights, is lost in the realm of cultural relativism. Drawing from Bunch’s (1990) observation that gender related abuses have been most neglected, I believe that cultural and religious group rights are given more recognition than women’s rights. In this essay I will set forth various theoretical claims and practical cases to argue my point that in reality cultural rights are given a higher grounding than women’s rights, specifically in the Middle East and Asia, but also in Africa and in some cases in the West. I will also look at various approaches that may help in rectifying these challenges.

Before I discuss the challenges I will look at the background of both cultural and religious groups rights and women’s rights. Will Kymlicka (1995) lays down two different kinds of group rights. The first is minority rights that protects the interests of their members and secondly rights which impose restrictions on its members, such as some cultural groups that set prohibitions and regulations on women. Kymlicka supports the first kind of rights but regards the second kind as “difficult” (cited in Anthias 2002: 280). It is one of those situations that whatever approach you choose to support there is always a negative aspect to it. If you oppose the second kind of rights you are demeaning the autonomy of a culture: “rejecting the cultural rules of a minority” (Anthias 2002:280). However if you ignore that these cultural impositions are abusing individual human rights then where does that make you stand? For instance, if you ignore the very brutal practice of female genital mutilation just because it is a cultural practice, does not that make you as ignorant as those practicing it? I will dwell on this further when I discuss how the human rights of women are abused in the name of culture.

Continue reading “Cultural Rights Vs. Women’s Rights: How do we strike a balance?”

Human Rights Allegations and Unfair Reports

I’m talking about the documentary which aired 14 June 2011 on Channel 4: ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’… I know it has been out there for a while now, but recent activity on social networking site Facebook has prompted me to write this.

With all due respect to Jon Snow for been so bold in highlighting these issues, I think the report could have been more unbiased and included sources from both sides. The full documentary can be watched at: http://srilanka.channel4.com/index.shtml

As a student of journalism I find this very disturbing. We’re expected to have integrity, check our sources and most importantly to be unbiased.

When I saw this report countering Channel 4’s report, I was extremely proud of the organisation  who produced it, for standing up for their country.

Continue reading “Human Rights Allegations and Unfair Reports”