Sri Lanka & the Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council, May 2009
Thursday May 24, 2012, from 16:00 to 18:00
Conference Room - Ground Floor IBEI
Dayan Jayatilleka (Sri Lankan Ambassador to UNESCO)
Many of the battles over conflict-related norms between Sri Lanka and Europe took place in UN institutions, primarily the Human Rights Council (HRC)…it was Sri Lanka which generally had the best of these diplomatic battles... Although this process of contestation reflects shifting power relations, and the increasing influence of China, Russia and other ‘Rising Powers’, it does not mean that small states are simply the passive recipients of norms created and contested by others. In fact, Sri Lankan diplomats have been active norm entrepreneurs in their own right, making significant efforts to develop alternative norms of conflict management, linking for example Chechnya and Sri Lanka in a discourse of state-centric peace enforcement. They have played a leading role in UN forums such as the UN HRC, where Sri Lankan delegates have helped ensure that the HRC has become an arena, not so much for the promotion of the liberal norms around which it was designed, but as a space in which such norms are contested, rejected or adapted in unexpected ways...As a member of the UN HRC Sri Lanka has played an important role in asserting new, adapted norms opposing both secession and autonomy as possible elements in peacebuilding—trends that are convergent with views expressed by China, Russia and India… The Sri Lankan conflict may be seen as the beginning of a new international consensus about conflict management, in which sovereignty and non-interference norms are reasserted, backed not only by Russia and China but also by democratic states such as Brazil.” Quote from Lewis (2010) ‘The failure of a liberal peace: Sri Lanka’s counterinsurgency in global perspective’ Conflict, Security & Development Vol. 10, No. 5, pp 647-71.