A recent Daily FT op-ed (‘Transitional justice efforts in Sri Lanka fall short’) correctly explains that the implementation of the Coalition Government’s transitional justice agenda has gone terribly.
The author then suggests that further (and similar) UN Human Rights Council involvement might encourage meaningful reform. “To give the Sri Lankan Government a further chance to make real progress, the council should insist upon clear, time-bound benchmarks and a monitoring framework.”
Unfortunately, Sri Lanka neither deserves nor needs more time. Sri Lanka is completely uninterested in “real progress” vis-à-vis transitional justice. The Coalition Government has had years to prove otherwise.
It’s simply unrealistic to believe that the continuation of similar Council interaction with Colombo – including the creation of more specific transitional justice benchmarks, the establishment of more intense monitoring procedures or the passage of another comparable resolution – will change much of anything for the better.
Sustained engagement is essential and now is a good time to reconsider the most appropriate ways for international actors to promote positive change on the island. Nonetheless, we’re way beyond the time when ideas such as more detailed benchmarks are going to work. It’s time for fresh thinking.
Takoma Park, Maryland (USA)