Saturday, October 13, 2007

Third World Governments Under Fire

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour is currently in Sri Lanka to investigate allegations of Human Rights Violations. Her visit follows months of international criticism and pressure exerted on the Sri Lankan government and its Law Enforcement Agencies to end the alleged violations. Pro-LTTE organizations have supported this move. The argument for Human Rights violations can also be used to describe state failure. In western concepts, state failure is the result of a breakdown in democracy. This can be a very narrow assumption since the pressures excerted on Third World governments are largely understudied in western democratic theory.

Western theorists looking at conflicts in Third World countries and the so-called ‘challenges to democracy’ that they pose, have devised several models to resolve such conflicts. Arend Lijphart is one such theorist who has developed a Consociational Democracy model for ‘deeply divided societies’. Consociationalism is essentially ‘an agreement between the leaders of each bloc in a divided society to share government, involving ‘grand coalition, segmental autonomy, proportionality, and minority veto’ (Lijphart, 2000, p. 228). Lijphart (1994, p. 222) believes consociationalism is ‘the only workable type of democracy in deeply divided societies.’

In many western countries with Direct Democracies or Liberal Democracies, democratic processes involve consensus between all segments of the population. However, in aggregate models of democracy, pluralism of interest takes precedence. This essentially means that the majority overrules the rest and their decisions become policy/law. Aggregate models of democracy and Representative Systems of democracy govern many Western countries which have been fortunate to avoid violent conflict since the end of WWII. But, for the same theorists, democracy in deeply divided societies means power sharing with minorities, proportional representation and minority veto.

In many of these theories of democracy, governments in Third World democracies are seen as a part of the problem and not as a part of the solution. Third World governments are seen as an obstacle to democracy, sometimes having a ‘monopoly on power and violence and using it to impose market liberalization, "ethnic" nationalism, or bureaucratic authoritarianism’. While these observations are generally true of many Third World Governments, the role of such states can sometimes be grossly underrated. Governments in Third World Countries ‘often intervene to address inequalities and protect the rights of poor/marginalized people and minorities against private interests and majoritarian power. And it frequently plays an important part in directing and monitoring foreign multinational investment. Addressing the role of the Third World state is, therefore, important to any democratic theory’ (Kapoor 2002).

Another important factor that is often ignored is the overall vulnerability of Third World Governments to the effects of Transnational Governance. A lack of democratic transnational institutions results in ‘the loss of national control resulting from a host of occurrences--the extraterritorial powers of multinational corporations, the activities of transnational actors (NGOs, multilateral and international organizations)’ etc. (Kapoor 2002). For example, the power and influence exercised by International Human Rights Groups, the United Nations etc could harm Sri Lanka more than developed countries accused of the same violations. The diplomatic power of the United Nations system could overwhelm Sri Lanka internationally but would be helpless against powerful western countries.

-Lijphart, Arend. 1994. Prospects for Power Sharing in the New South Africa. In Andrew
Reynolds, ed., Election ’94 South Africa: An Analysis of the Results, Campaign and Future Prospects. New York: St. Martin’s.

-Lijphart, Arend. 2000. Varieties of Nonmajoritarian Democracy. 225-46 in Markus M. L.
Crepaz, Thomas A. Koelble, and David Wilsford, eds., Democracy and Institutions: The Life Work of Arend Lijphart. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

-Kapoor, Ilan. 2002. Deliberative Democracy or Agonistic Pluralism? The Relevance of the Habermas-Mouffe Debate for Third World Politics. Alternatives, 27: 459-87.


hemantha said...

Sorry defencewire. This is not related to the above post. I am just continuing the old discussion.

Meant no disrespect friend. Sorry if I appeared rude.
When one mentions Athas the name immediately comes in to my mind is Author W. A. Silva. He wrote great historical novels. First he takes true historical facts. Then he constructs his story around them. He gives feelings to the characters the way he likes and twists the incidents to get more dramatizations and fabricates some too.
We must be proud of having a military equivalent of W. A. Silva among us right now. Mr. Iqbal Athas is the Author of this unending military novel (in Sunday Times) and is as good as W. A. Silva. The only difference between them is that he wrote historical novels and Athas is writing a military novel. Due to the fact that their work contains lot of true facts too it’s hard to categorize those as fictions.

Actually people are discussing Athas’s work in the defencenet right now. Even though I love to hop in they are doing such a good fulltime job there, my part timers wouldn’t match.

Anonymous said...

An excellent article...

NOLTTE=Peace said...


You exactly nailed what Athas is.

What I hate after all, having very little substance, still Athas try to turn things against the government in the usual dramatized way.

It may be that his bosses asking him to do the same. But, he can not fool people all the time. People are intelligent to understand what is happening.

Anonymous said...


Non taken dude.

Keep up the good posts :)

As for Athas his "Situation" Reports have turned into a joke. I want to know the situation at the front lines, not his life story.

Finally there are some new English medium analysts and Situation reports being produced by other sources. Athas no longer runs the monopoly on the Defence issues in Sri Lanka via the English medium, his "international awards" were only given to him because he filled a vacuum.

I for trusted him, but the whole Mig27 issue got stupider and stupider with his flawed and baseless statements. Especially with his extreme lack of understanding with regards to Military hardware and Military technology. Comparing aircraft to buying cars/antiques is just a sign of this lack of understanding..

But with vigour he states that he is "open to criticism and correction" (similar words) yet in the same breath says he "speaks the whole truth". Not once has he corrected himself AFTER adequate explanations were given about the Mig 27 Aircraft deal.

He relies too heavily on his sources, who (according to LNP) are corrupted Military personal wanting to strike out for not getting any favours etc.

Mistakes such as stating the SLAF doesn't have Mig21s is proof enough, and the guy works for Janes!

He's just another journalist who doesn't understand the meaning of freedom of expression and freedom of media. He thinks he can say and do what he wants. He, like many in Sri Lanka take freedom for granted. Freedoms come with responsibility, irresponsibility leads to abuse and eventual destruction as can be seen with what is happening in Sri Lanka.

Well the term "destruction" is too strong, but the abuse of freedom in Sri Lanka has led to an excess of never ceasing allegations and propaganda becoming fact, any attempt to challenge such misinformation is a "breach" of said freedoms.

Ironic, terrorism is destroying the North and democracy is destroying the South.

Anonymous said...

Also his condemnation of the Military efforts in the East, almost mocking the sacrifices of our soldiers claiming the victories to be "flawed", "fake" or "premature".

Why is he undermining the dedication and hard work of our Soldiers?

His defence being that what crap he says "does not affect the moral of the soldiers".
He is right to a certain degree, his rubbish does not affect them 100% but i'm sure it must break our soldiers hearts to see some arm chair pundit basking in the safety they provide claim that the sacrifice they make, the loss of their comrades in the battle is all "meaningless".

Worse still are flawed allegations, made with little proof and NOT retracted once sufficient evidence is provided to prove them to be false, must have an effect on troop morale. How does it make them feel when news goes around that their boss is pocketing some cash while they die? Does that not affect their morale and ability to fight?

His allegation sure as hell, 100%, affects the moral on the home front. Athas doesn’t seem to take that into account either. His pay check is more important. Another sad situation in Sri Lanka, where ethics and morals take a back seat for USD. That wouldn’t be so bad, if the same people doing it didn’t preach that they are source of unquestionable truth and sole guardians of it.

Anonymous said...

In Case of UN High Commissioner coming to Sri lanka, I think, Ranil and UNPers did lot of damamge. Even Mano Ganashan, an INdian Tamil and a UNP MP is trying to be MArtin Luther King.

Tamil.nut and eelampage shws some tamil women crying and holding the hand of Loiuse Arbour.

But, LOuise Arbour does not in that Tamil culture, at the time of a Funeral, you can hire women who start crying loud and bagning their chest in order to show the sadness to the people coming there.

I think, those women crying was a set up.

Anonymous said...


Tamil women have a tendency to cry and wail when some foreigner or a camera is in front of them.

Good way to win sympathy.

I'm curious were the "disappeared" from 88 there? Where the mothers from the dead of the Kelibutgollewa bus bomb there?

A lot of the missing have been found after investigations were carried out.

When the US Embassy proudly handed over a list of 500 or so missing persons, it turned out that the people on the list were our Soldiers who had died recently on the battle field. Some of the names had been "Tamilised" to make the list look authentic.

The fact that Sri Lanka is facing so much problems over this "human rights" canard is because of Ranil as you mentioned. He went around the world spreading lies about Sri Lanka, asking to cut economic aid to the country and told China to stop selling weapons to the country.

Nowhere else in the world would the leader of the opposition spread such miss information against his own country and his own Army (exaggerating causality figures and making up "human rights" abuse cases).

Just shows what that traitor is made of.

Make the people suffer to collapse the Government to get into power.

Doing such schemes is Ranil forte. He used to engineer fights in Parliament and watch them on TV with much glee.

Anonymous said...

Athas: "State company gets monopoly over arms deals"

Quote from Athats:

This clearly means the Government will hold the monopoly over the procurement of all military hardware for the Security Forces and the Police. Thus, the private sector has been debarred from dealing with the Government on any of the military items listed in the regulations. Thus, they will not be able to function as local agents for principals abroad and negotiate with the procurement units of the Armed Forces or the Police.

The sole monopoly for the procurement of military hardware has thus come solely under the State owned Lanka Logistics and Technologies Limited.

So what? Isn't that a good thing? Isn't that what he's been writing in favour of all this time?
Just shows his true intentions are headline grabbers and more USD for himself than any love for the country, something he always tries to project.

DaraSingh said...


You are absolutely right. I have been reading Athas since the eighties and find that he has changed his tune. There are many examples including his pushing for clearing of the Sampur area and then writing against eastern operations once Sampur was cleared. He has consistently targeted private arms dealers and now in todays article seems actually to promote their use. Guess as you say its all to do with $'s.

hemantha said...

According Athas Mavil Aru sluice gates were opened by bombing and destroying the anicut by our forces (before securing the area). Now we know that it wasn't true. This guy always try to find something degrading to say when security forces achieve something.

" The truth, The Sunday Times learnt, was different. A high ranking military source said the security forces bombed the Mavil Aru anicut. It was so precisely done that water began flowing thereafter. The source spoke on grounds of anonymity since they are debarred from speaking to the media. High ranking Government officials declined comment when asked about this bombing."

hemantha said...

Feel sad about the death of three sailors. A one way of expressing our gratitude to their valiant sacrifices would be by giving a helping hand to their families. I hope the ministry of defense would initiate some program in order to initiate this process (sponsoring a child would be a one such program). It has to be well organized and transparent with no opportunity for favoritisms. I know that there are some people who would be interested in giving a helping hand if gets an opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Working on your point hemantha, its the job for those of us outside of Sri Lanka to not only counter the propaganda (by both LTTE and non-LTTE Tamils, i say that because some of them take part in the song and dance so they can stay in Western countries) but to also help the families of our soldiers best as best we can, sending cloths, books etc.

I commend everyone who does such already.

I hope the MoD in Sri Lanka takes care of the family of our soldiers. I for one believe they should get benefits for health care as well as educational grants etc, things which ease their living conditions.

Anonymous said...


Yeah dude. Money and personal advancement..."the heroic journalist working to expose the truth for his people and threatened for doing so, for doing what is right, his ethics and unbiased nature being his guide as had some unscrupulous inhuman individuals brand him as an enemy for serving his nation"… This kind of ego rub and elevation wins him awards and all kinds of goodies making him think so much of himself.

He's just some celebrity now and enjoying the limelight.

I wouldn't mind him doing all this for his personal advancement if he didn't have the nerve to say he's doing this "for the country" and that he speaks the "whole truth and nothing but the truth".

The problem is that a) He filled a vacuum in the English medium for reporting on the conflict and b) Many in Sri Lanka from civilians to politicians have extremely limited knowledge about military hardware, technologies and strategy. Thus what he says appears to be the gospel truth.

Defencewire said...

I hope you guys and DefenceAnalyst don't mind my intrusion to the topic. Long before we set this up (DW) I was closely 'associated' with Mavilaru Op. The Army, including Cdo regiment found it rough going upto the sluice gates because of mines and open terrain. Several teams were working on a plan to take the area but a couple of days later it was claimed the gates were opened. Sources indicated a hole was blown in the gates by a Kfir. My friends in the forward lines indicated this was inaccurate saying it would have blown entire dam off. Athas' report might have contained the first narration. Ground sources indicated otherwise.

hemantha said...

Agree hundred percent TS. Those of us who aren't able to participate the fighting in the Northern and Eastern lands there are many ways to contribute to this honorable task (Wheel Chairs, artificial limbs, monetary contributions and of course anti propaganda). The soldiers who do sacrifices (which we are unable to do) should feel that they are being looked after. We are so close can't let this opportunity go.

hemantha said...

Thanks for the information Defencewire. It's good to hear that the story is not a complete fabrication even though it's not true. Would you be able to divulge that who actually opened the sluice gates?

Defencewire said...

I am confident that it was opened by Special Forces. Those at the front who inspected the gates later claimed a Kfir blasting the gates would have caused greater damage to the dam as a whole. Only other option would be an MI-24 yet it would have been susceptible to 12.7mm fire from Tigers entrenched in the area. I am aware of SF Major Weerasinghe, a US (advanced) trained officer, coordinating the attack to capture the area with the gates. The charge that the gates were blasted by AF came after water started pouring in from the gates before the capture of the gates was even declared. Sources also claimed at the time a huge explosion was heard. I can do more 'digging' on the subject if you like.

hemantha said...

Thanks Defencewire. I was just curious. No extra digging is needed. If you get the inf. at some future time please write few words.

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