A Statement of Aims

A Statement of Aims

In starting a new electronic journal, it seems appropriate to set out the rationale for yet another collection of articles on the current situation in Sri Lanka. Chanaka Amaratunga and I did this over a quarter of a century ago in launching the Liberal Review, and I would like to reiterate what we said there, in declaring that www.reconciliationandrightssrilanka.wordpress.com would  have ideology as the basis of its endeavours.

The ideology we wish to propagate is encapsulated in the name of of this blog. It is intended to feature informed discussion on the reconciliation process in Sri Lanka, with a strong emphasis on the protection and promotion of rights. Those who have joined me in this venture by and large share the following beliefs, which need to be understood more widely, and promoted in every way possible.

  1. For many years after independence Sri Lanka suffered from a majoritarian outlook that led to comparative neglect of minority interests and areas. Remedial action is essential now to ensure that minorities are full partners in the Sri Lankan nation.

  1. The failure to address grievances through discussion led to the emergence of a terrorist movement that engaged in violence and oppression. When efforts at negotiation with these terrorists, the Tigers, failed because of the continuous bad faith they displayed, and their breaking off of discussions and resuming violent activity, the Sri Lankan government had to ensure their extinction.

  1. The war that involved the use of civilians as human shields by the Tigers was fought with comparative restraint and decency by the Sri Lankan forces. However, while the forces have failed to convey their side of the story effectively, government should also investigate instances of individual failure to observe national and international norms, and take judicial measures as appropriate.

  2. The resettlement and rehabilitation process government embarked on after the war was more effective than in many similar situations. Government needs however to pay more attention to Human Resource Development in the affected areas, while also ensuring better consultation mechanisms to take the needs and feelings of the population into account.

  1. Effective attention to local issues is best accomplished through a system of devolution which involves formal consultation and accountability mechanisms. Provincial governments should not have responsibility for national security, though central government, in fulfilling all its functions, including its security mandate, should ensure adequate consultation of all regions.

  1. Structural changes that promote the principal of subsidiarity are desirable, but both elected and appointed officials at local government levels must establish consultation and reporting mechanisms that ensure transparency and accountability.

  1. The professionalism of the executive branch of government should be enhanced by developing better norms for appointments and also promoting better oversight by Parliament.

  1. The legislature should pay more attention to its traditional functions by improving committee systems and undertaking oversight functions in a manner that precludes conflict of interests with the executive.

  1. The election system should be reformed to re-establish at all levels links between individual representatives and the areas they represent as individuals, while ensuring proportionality in the composition of all legislative and regulation making bodies.

  1. The judiciary should develop rules of procedure and conduct that are made known to the public it serves, with mechanisms that inhibit delays and encourage mediation rather than confrontational procedures.

The website will consist of four sections as follows

  1. News Analyses – Short articles dealing with current issues

  2. Points of View – Papers presented at other forums that relate to contemporary issues

  3. Development Report – Accounts of significant initiatives, in particular in the North and East, that promote reconciliation

  4. Culture – Personal accounts of initiatives that promote pluralism

As with the Liberal Review, a note on the format of the journal would perhaps be appropriate. The underlying principle of editorial policy is that of maintaining congruence of substance and sense. For that reason, at least initially, Contributions will be by largely confined to the founder members of the site. Articles will be included by virtue of relevance to our basic concerns, albeit broadly  defined. In addition to editorial matter, there will be brief accounts of current events, expositions of policy through position papers, a section on developmental issues, and reviews of material with a socio-cultural content.

We hope the journal will increase the appeal of the ideals it espouses and develop appreciation of the importance of Reconciliation and Rights. We will offer association with the journal to others who share these beliefs and hope to add upto five new members each month. Contributions will also be invited for the Culture section, and for the Development Report.  The second section will include analysis of our foreign policy and suggestions as to the principles that should be followed if our efforts at Reconciliation are not to be stymied.

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