Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Self-Determination Movements After Kosovo

Kosovo’s independence from Serbia was accepted by powerful western states. The Sri Lanka government was quick to disapprove Kosovo’s independence. Many Sri Lankans either fear or welcome Kosovo’s independence based on their own personal interests. What is certain to follow is that various ethnic groups fighting violently for cessation from internal conflicts or civil wars may attempt to use Kosovo as an international example to justify that cessation.

The key to Kosovo’s Independence is the International Community (Western Super Powers’) desire to move away from the region after military interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo, the peacekeeping missions and the hundreds of millions of dollars given annually in economic aid since 1999.

However, the legal framework that may enable self-determination and the practical situations connected therein must also be analyzed in depth to obtain a better understanding of the principle and its relevance to Sri Lanka.

The Right to Self Determination

Many groups that identify themselves as minorities have invoked the “right to self-determination” in their demands for autonomy or cessation. They have resorted to violence to pursue these aims. The international community may accept cessation if it guarantees to cease violence, however, in many cases, there is no such guarantee.

Self-determination and cessation are confusing concepts. The failure to define exactly who is entitled to claim a right to self-determination is unclear (whether it is a group, a people, or a nation—and what exactly the right confers).

Achieving self-determination through peaceful means has been accepted by the International Community with Kosovo being the case and point. But when self-determination has been achieved militarily, the international community has generally been reluctant to reverse the gain.

The claim has also been made that too much focus on self-determination can be dangerous. An over-generous acceptance of self-determination could lead to fragmentation and the rise of intolerance, because it would no longer be necessary to coexist peacefully.

Self-determination was officially recognized and sanctioned after 1945, in the United Nations Charter. However, this applied only to existing states and not to ethnic/national groups. It was accepted as a right after the 1960 UN Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Peoples, when applied for purposes of decolonization. Here also self-determination applied to territories and not to ethnic/national groups.

Measures taken after the 1970s to combine the ideas of minority rights and decolonization to justify self-determination as a right to independent statehood for every distinctive ethnic group was heavily criticized for helping to fuel violence characterizing various independence movements by ethnic groups. But some experts have argued for self-determination since they believe that groups held against their will in “artificial, arbitrary, and accidental” international state boundaries can be freed by it.

The emergence of such movements is based on Western ideas of democracy and human rights. But the west also insists on the inviolability of existing borders. The threat of self-determination movements must also be measured as a global threat when considering the fault lines that exist within large countries like China and Russia, which could spin the world into global chaos.

Recent studies indicate that the right to self-determination must be separated from the right to cessation and the establishment of independent statehood, with the understanding that there are intermediate categories short of statehood that can address a minority group’s interests and aspirations, such as power-sharing etc.

Human rights violations are easy to condemn but the dilemma is whether they justify a group’s cessation from the state. The very propagation of the idea of human rights intensifies demands for greater recognition among minority groups that invoke claims of human rights violations to support their demands for self-determination.

In either case, Sri Lanka government must not underestimate the possibility of cessation, although remote it may seem. The present international Human Rights lobby against the state, the failure of the propaganda machine of the state to represent itself, the inability of the state to control embarrassing activities of profit-motivated sources within the state etc could all potentially increase the chances of cessation by the LTTE.

On the other hand, India's hands-off policy towards the government's multi-pronged assault on LTTE to destroy it militarily and politically through the reinforcement of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution indicate the International Community is not seriously interested in LTTE aspirations for cessation. The IC seems to have made way for the regional power to act on its own discretion in Sri Lanka and, unfortunately for the LTTE, the neighbour is under the influence of Sonia Gandhi, who may have a personal score to settle with the Tigers.


Unknown said...

Good Article. However given importance to India in Sri Lankan Affairs turns Sri Lanka into India colony. However leaning towards US or pakistan is not the solution.

The only reason the police will enter a household is when you are being abusive to your family members. As long as you keep your house in order, no one will be able to enter your house on any pretext.

When the IPKF was fighting the LTTE, RAW was still suppling weapons to the LTTE. This is to ensure that there will be a permenant need for Indian army presence in Sri Lanka. Premedesa realised this and started making the LTTE stronger. Implications of this is well known. However it did get rid of the colonial occupational army known as IPKF. It was rumored that premedasa even considered making Prabha, the commander of the army.

The solutions put forward by Mahindha is not going to solve the problem Sri Lanka is facing. He is a handicap to the military operations. A good leader would put a sensible proposal to take the moral high ground away from the LTTE. Secondly he would strengtened the military startegy and resolve. This would also weaken the resistance of some of the boderline cadres.

He has put his foot into the warpath without considering the impact on the economy, international community and the people. War stories can not fill the stomach at the end of the day.

Sun Tzu's disciple said...

Good article .Well balanced and informative.

The concept of Self_determination is indeed an arbitary one--and except for the vague outlines given for its achievement as given in this article it is upto the protagonists and their respective supporters who determine the outcome--via force(Eritrea) or politics(Kosovo) or both (Croatia).

The Tamil homeland movement may achieve separation only via the first option--as of now.Past atrocities and present political climate precludes the other two options. However, if it hangs on long enough(Say another 2-5years)with decent territorial control, the changing political climate may make the 3rd option come into play again--if not for independence then atleast for a Confederacy.

Therefore the present phase of the conflict may be more decisive than previous phases of the war--the LTTE will be either destroyed as a military power( which will rule out independence at least in our lifetime?), or, if it stalemates or wins on the battlefield the chances of a Confederacy or Independence being that much brighter.

The LTTE is said to be not collecting all its slain soldiers on the battlefield--is this a sign of weakness or are they upto some new game(deception)?

Unknown said...

"The LTTE is said to be not collecting all its slain soldiers on the battlefield--is this a sign of weakness or are they upto some new game(deception)?"

I would say this is probably determined by battlefield situations, even the SLA has ahd to leave behind dead in the past.

I cannot see any real plan in this other than they just couldn't recover them. Would they be trying to show the SLA that they are weak, well I am sure the LTTE know that the SLA know exactly how strong or weak they are.

Moshe Dyan said...

An informative article although it didn't quite address the main issue at play. All this stuff relating to self-determination and secession enforced by UN resolutions are not the dominant force here. The dominant force is western, mainly US interests.

After the fall of Russia, there have been the emergence of a few new countries including East Timor, Erithrea, Somaliland, many in former Yugoslavia, a divided cypres....

The main theme about ALL these are US interests. On the other hand Chad, Darfur, Chechnya are also under the US radar but owing to powerful Chinese and Russian influence these remain as they are.

The lesson is this; as long as the big guys want something they will get it among them; to hell with UN resolutions.

SL must prove that it can MILITARILY defeat the LTTE if it is to keep out outsiders.

SL should also not fall prey to the FEDERAL and POWER SHARING trap based on RACIAL BOUNDARIES. If a federation is created in the Northern Province where mostly Tamils live, it will be an easy repetition of Kosovo!!

The challenge for SL is singlefolded - reign all the nooks and corners of the island politically and militarily AT THE SAME TIME.

After all the SL conflict must have an intertwined politico-military solution. In other words political forces must be supportive of the military and the military must find political forces friendly and supportable.

In this regard the worth of the EPDP, EPRLF, PLOTE (one faction now divided), TMVP, Raazik group and other pro-SL politico-military groups become EXTREMELY important. Just imagine EPDP winning the election in Jaffna/Vanni and TMVP winning in Batti. nevermind in usual sri lankan style!

No one can carve out part of SL. Of course these can be phased-out step-by-step as the security situation improves.

std correctly pointed out this

"determine the outcome--via force(Eritrea) or politics(Kosovo) or both (Croatia)."

Politico-Military groups/solutions can close ALL these avenues SIMULTANEOUSLY.

Unknown said...

The most powerful countries would not be able to separetae sri lanka due to the given history of the Sinhalese Culture, and the history of Tamils in Tamilnadu India. Another reason would be the fact that this war has been going on for years and it will continue until terrorism is eliminated. Also, it is a joke to anyone with common sense to separate 2/3rds of a country to a minority that is only 12% of the population, as we all know, if a majority is 70% then there will be more chaos. If any western country do try, India will again not allow it because when countries that split, they become unstable, when they become unstable, the whole region becomes unstable and that is the last thing India wants as well as Australia.

just thought I throw that out there.
Sri Lanka is a very unique country, specially the economy, the people and lastly the buddhist religion. We Sri Lankans not only fight with a true, well trained, well disciplined Army, Navy, Air Force, STF, we also fight with protests and words! So, no need to worry abotu kosovo, beacuse if the day comes where someone will try to force separation, the majority of the people will destroy the 12% and no powerful country will be able to stop it. And also, we dont have UN peacekeeping forces, nor did we ever and we are also democratically elected govt who doesnt have child soldiers, and where different ethnicities lives in harmony in the South! :)

Mahendra said...

First of all, even though Kosovo has gained "independence", the situation at the borders has intensified leading to mass violence and "vandalism". This cannot be called a more stable situation than that which existed before "independence" of Kosovo. So, whether it is through a political or military framework that independence is gained, the situation within a state would not in any way become more stable if the solution is not a bilateral, mutual understanding agreed upon by both parties concerned. Thus, if the consequence of such an utterly time and gut-consuming process is a still even more or equally unstable environment what is the meaning of such an "independence" ? This would be the case even if autonomy is granted to Tamils in Sri Lanka, while the LTTE holds onto its military and territorial strength. What should be done is to weaken or defeat them militarily, and negotiate with the more peace-loving leaders such as Anadasangaree standing on behalf of the Tamil minority.

Upul said...

checkmate against Lankan government is now imminent.
(1) Arms export to lanka from Pakistan about to dry up fast

(2) Arms export from Czech republic has already dried up due to EU pressure.

(3) Hurting stalemate on the battlefront, SLA unable to maintain offensive momentum in the last few weeks.

(4) The war has spread to all facets of the island and spread internationally.

(5) Tide is turning for the Tigers internationally, independence in Kosovo, democrat surge, downfall of Congress (I) in India imminent....

Upul said...

SLA is having hard time replenishing artillery shells.

Credit available for Rajapakse regime in short supply due to subprime collapse in US. While Lanka can borrow more money to stay afloat day by day, it will be at much higher interest rates.

Already, IMF, worldbank and ADB have folded there hands due to international pressure. The countries faces real isolation, more than ever in its history.

Upul said...

Apparently Citibank is one of the banks helping lanka secure credit. Citibank is well known for being an institutional loan shark. It has a habit of lending to clients knowing well, the clients will be left in debt traps.. It is absolutely no suprise lanka is trapped in this international spider's web on many fronts. Its unbelievable the locals just don't get the magnitude of this scam... Nevertheless its too late anyways...

One word of advice when facing imminent financial collapse:

Take out your life/family savings from state owned banks and convert it to a stable currency. A lot of people lost their money having not done this in time in Argentine. When it becomes too late, the government will prevent you from withdrawing your funds...

IntelAttack said...

There's no King to checkmate against LTTE and apparently LTTE has lost the game and their people as well.

(1) Arms export to Lanka from countries are going better than before. Any joker can deny this but SLA is to raise 61st division soon with more arms.

(2) SLA maintain offensive momentum in all time of Eelam war 4 and LTTE terrorists get their asses kicked in 5 fronts everyday that they won't be able to hold up for much long.

(3) The war has spread to all facets of Wanni, Specifically by regular air raids and from 5 fronts on gradually-but-surely-falling Nazi tiger territory.

(4) Tide is turning bad for the Tigers Universally, for the one and only fact that LTTE is going to LOSE militarily in this year. That’s more than enough.

Oh By the way,
What a shame Ms Upuli!

Unknown said...

One should read India's covert role in Sri Lanka's ceasefire.

East Timor is a former portugese colony annexed by Indonesia in 1976. India annexed Goa. Goa is part of federal India and has not split. However East Timor has split. One reason is Australia and Portugal. Australia is reaping Timor's oil supplies. Instability means secure oil.

Timoe east and the part in Indonesia are the same people. Timor is an island. The majority of Indonesians are Javanese and all the Presidents and leaders are Javanese. Power was centralised and the country was having problem in the molucaas and Aceh. Indonesia is a secular state with 80% muslim. However East Timorese are generally catholic (due to portugese like Lanka) and moluccas (protestant) like Sri Lanka due to the dutch. Acheh is exception of being muslim. Papua which is resource rich was under dutch rule. The people look african unlike other indians just like eastern indian do not fit into genral indian features. They too wanted to break away.

Today the achenese rebellion has resanobaly died down because things are getting decentralised. Federal idea does not mean independence. Qubec has not left canada, India is still united. You need to empower ans trust all the poeple and give them some freeplay.

Even the United States from Taxes to the death penalty to gay rights vary from state to state. In Malaysia each state has some laws the are different. Kelantan run by PAS a muslim party wanted to evoke Hudud (Islamic) laws but failed as the federal law overides it.

If you want the home to stick together dont your comprimise. You do not comprimise only when you thing the person is an outsider.

Mahendra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mahendra said...

When all the their other local and international mechanisms fail, the LTTE savages have nothing but their propaganda units to deploy ......Some comments on these defense forums are examples of the effort the dying Tigers have put into their last resorts of a salvation that they'll never get!

Fear not brave Lions, we'll never run out of food and water until we keep our heads straight and face the perils right in their faces, without digging at them lazily! Let the weakened, walking-dead Tigers shout their agonies in unison !! The SLA's daily improving morale cannot now be dented by any of your tested and failed methods and tactics!

Peace !!

Jambudipa said...

Whatever the international law on self-determination, the deciding factor for session has always been military power and/or strategic interests of regional powers.

Serbia is a pro-Soviet country in a region dominated by EU and NATO alliance. Yugoslavia was a fragile state of nations dominated by the Serbs. Communist Serbian leader Milosevic did not play the right cards from the word go. Even after the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, He continued to push communism against rising tide of democracy with others in the Slavic alliance. The fall out was the Balkan Wars. The war was mismanaged resulting in chaos and rapid disintegration of Yugoslavia. The US backed NATO alliance more or less treated Serbia as a Pariah state because of Milosevic and his pro-Soviet confrontational stance. Kosovo outcome probably would have been avoided had Milosevic taken pro-West and pro-democratic stance from the outset.

Mahinda on the other hand is no Milosevic. He has managed the war quite well in one hand while playing all the right cards nationally and internationally in the other. He will for example sign agreements with Iran without upsetting US. He will support the Military regime in Pakistan without antaganising India. After playing cat and mouse games for decades with lesser leaders, Velu has finally found himself a worthwhile opponent who has finally beaten him in his own game.

LKDOOD said...


Daily mirror:

The Army launched a fresh offensive towards the Adampan junction this morning hours after it thwarted a pre-dawn LTTE attack aimed at re-capturing North of Parappakandal area in Mannar.

any news ??

Sam Perera said...

Any body sell drugs around? I felt so good when I saw Sri Lanka getting cornered internationally and beaten by LTTE locally in my Lala Land. I want to go back to my Lala Land. Somebody please?

IntelAttack said...

India's Peace and War - TN

is LTTE trying to prove that India has two faces, because now India supports military solution but then Supported CFA?

Anyway, what the hell would LTTE gain for publicizing these?

Would India be shame of what they did and stop involving?

No.. Not in this decade I think!

Nandimithra said...

Long Ranger,
Well said,
When all their other local and
international mechanisms fail, the LTTE savages have nothing but their propaganda units to deploy.
Beggers like tamil silva, upul, pathertic boss,
They dont even collect their dead bodies apperently these days.

Fear not brave Lions, we'll never run out of food and water until we keep our heads straight and face the perils right in their faces, without digging at them lazily!
Bless sri lanka.

Unknown said...

Given the fact, everyone is writing paragraphs, there is something really wrong. Everyone is scared. That’s not a good thing.

Kosovo's independent only going to put pressure to Western countries to recognize Eelam too... they simply can't deny it now.

LKDOOD said...

Sri Lanka's Return to War: Limiting the Damage(REPORT)


LKDOOD said...




3 out of the 9 LTTE attack teams disappear

LTTE vehicles destroyed


any info ???


defenceAnalyst said...

As this article explains, Kosovo's independence was gained through negotiations and peaceful means. The western countries who recognized that independence have done it so that they can 'move on'. They also want to stick it to Putin.

In Sri Lanka, neither super power will be willing to go against the regional power to accept Eelam in Sri Lanka, however bad the present government might be. India, by the way, is under Congress Leader Sonia Gandhi's influence. According to our sources, they have requested the MR Regime to militarily defeat the Tigers but also to enforce 13 Amendment as a political settlement.

Mahendra said...

Kosovo is a unique case and there lucky break will not be of s reason for us to worry. If maybe China will give independence to Tibet, Britain to north Ireland, Folkland and hundred other places and if India give independence to Tamil nadu ;well then we will have a big problem at hand.

Have no fear international community cannot and will not recognise Eelam as a country .

And indeed the EXTICNTION of LTTE
is near. so all the supporters of LTTE can only hope to watch as their heros die in numbers and be bomber to million bits.

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