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Midweek Review

Doing social research: A guide to non-native English speakers 2023 published by Springer-Singapore



Dr. Saliya

This book by Dr. C. A. Saliya is an English adaptation of the original Sinhala book SAMAJA GAVESHAKAYA published in early 2022. It exemplifies Dr Saliya’s skills of integrating of academic scholarly thinking and sharp professional approach in conducting social research. He has conceptualised, designed and developed this book especially for non-native English-speaking budding researchers in the academic as well as the professional fields and is online available here:

With the exposure to both fields, academic (PhD) and the industry (KPMG trained Chartered Accountant, Professional Banker) coupled with overseas exposure being living in New Zealand for 20 years, Dr. Saliya recognises that successful explanation to phenomena requires the researcher to approach problems with both quantitative, qualitative as well as mixed-method methodologies. Therefore, the author presents not only the deductive and the inductive approaches but also abductive inferences which demands the researcher to be flexible in his/her views while dealing with multiple interpretations without confining to a single ontological position.

In many ways, Dr. Saliya’s work is unique; more illustrations and less texts; the simplicity of language that carefully avoids jargon in order to communicate effectively. He describes and defines the concepts for the benefit of the beginner and illustrates them with real life examples, mainly from Sri Lanka. He covers the full range of issue areas in the subject so that this work is a compendium on research methods including problem recognition, conceptualisation, operationalisation, data gathering techniques, data analysis, drawing inferences, discussion in conjunction with previous knowledge, and communicating the research in conformity with international standards.

After all, Dr. Saliya demonstrates how instructors and supervisors in research alike must apply their roles professionally. This book would become a landmark in the evolution of new research traditions in our world as the publisher Springer being one of the well-known publishing houses.

Currently he is attached to Sri Lanka Institute of Technology, Malabe, supervising many research students there.

With the approval of the National Library and Documentation Services Board of The Ministry of Education as a recommended book for libraries, the second print of the original Sinhala book SAMAJA GAVESHAKAYA will be available in bookstores and libraries very soon.

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Midweek Review

Sirisena, SLFP enmeshed in Easter Sunday fallout



The then President Maithripala Sirisena arrives at the PCoI accompanied by his lawyer Maithri Gunaratne, PC.

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) is desperate to reach a consensus with political parties in the Opposition. But the Opposition is very much reluctant to do so due to the SLFP leader Maithripala Sirisena’s fickle past and now again under intense fire over the 2019 Easter Sunday attack. Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, no stranger to controversy, especially to his advantage, having served Sirisena’s cabinet during the Yahapalana administration, called the former President the mastermind of the Easter carnage. The SJB Chairman, who is now at loggerheads with the party, declared in Parliament that there were two masterminds. One was Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the other Maithripala Sirisena. Jathika Jana Balawegaya leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake flayed Sirisena for being so petty-minded that he sabotaged the National Security Council over his personal dispute with the then Premier Wickremesinghe.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Chairman Maithripala Sirisena, MP, recently accused ousted General Secretary of the party, parliamentarian Dayasiri Jayasekera, unceremoniously kicked out by him, of seeking to contest the next presidential election. The former President (2015-2019) claimed that the Kurunegala District lawmaker pursued political ambitions at his expense, regardless of the consequences. Therefore, as the Chairman of the Party he had no option but to thwart the conspiracy hatched by a group of conspirators.

The accusation was made during a live interview on Salakuna, anchored by Chamuditha Samarawickrema, who served the then President Sirisena as his Media Director. At one point, visibly upset Sirisena accused Samarawickrema of being part of the growing conspiracy to ruin his political career.

During the no holds barred interview, the Hiru panel relentlessly pressed the former President over his failure to prevent the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks, the simmering turmoil in the SLFP, with the focus on his battle with Jayasekera, and future plans. Jayasekera has been removed from the position of General Secretary and his party membership suspended at the same time.

Sirisena strongly defended repeated accusations that he caused the ruination of the SLFP from the commanding position of 144 MPs in 2010 to just one elected on the SLFP ticket at the last general election in August 2020, whereas the remaining 13, including himself, entered parliament on the SLPP ticket.

Sirisena attributed that victory to Sri Lanka’s triumph over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May 2009. The UPFA recorded a significant increase of 39 seats since the 2004 general election. The UNP-led UNF secured 60 seats, a decline of 22. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) obtained 14 seats, down from the 22 they won in 2004, and Sarath Fonseka-led DNA, contesting for the first time, won seven seats.

Responding to the Samarawickrema-led Hiru panel, Sirisena repeated a range of allegations against war-winning Army Commander Sarath Fonseka who was also accused of conspiring against the SLFP leader. Sirisena repeated accusations against Fonseka in Parliament recently that during the Army Chief’s much publicized visits to Kilinochchi during the war, the Sinha Regiment officer hid in a concrete bunker.

Perhaps the most astonishing declaration the embattled President made during that interview was his readiness to reach a consensus with UNP leader and incumbent President Ranil Wickremesinghe. Sirisena indicated he was ready to cooperate with anyone as political parties sought alliances. Let me stop the comment on ‘Salakuna’ interview and examine the challenges Sirisena faced as he struggled to navigate choppy waters.

The ex-President exploded when Samarawickrema accused him of lying regarding his visit to Singapore in April 2019. The ex-presidential aide played a voice recording of Sirisena claiming that he was on holiday in Singapore soon after he told the interviewers of visiting Mount Elizabeth Hospital for a medical check-up. Saramawickrema pointed out that the bills were paid by the President’s Fund belonging to the people.

The reality is that the SLFP has been reduced to just one MP Angajan Ramanathan elected from the Jaffna district and may find it extremely difficult to finalize an agreement in time for the presidential election. Sirisena realizes the pathetic state his party is in as the seniors are keen to face the future under Wickremesinghe’s leadership. The growing criticism of Sirisena’s conduct in the run-up to the Easter Sunday carnage, and after, has caused irreparable damage to Sirisena. The bottom line is Sirisena is a liability. The SLFP cannot under any circumstances expect to reach an electoral alliance with any political party represented in Parliament as long as Sirisena remained the leader. That is the undeniable truth. Unfortunately, Sirisena seems to be in a dream world of his own incapable of comprehending the political environment or the utterly desperate situation he is in.

Kilinochchi concrete bunker

Did the Army Chief visit Kilinochchi often during the war? In spite of being a member of the Cabinet and Acting Minister of Defence on a number of occasions during the war, Sirisena seems to be clueless regarding even the basics in military strategy or what really happened. Kilinochchi, which served as the outward LTTE headquarters, where foreign and local visitors were entertained, was not liberated till January 2009. In fact, the then Lt. Gen. Fonseka hadn’t visited Kilinochchi until the Army brought the LTTE bastion under its control. He no doubt personally directed frontline operations from Colombo often bypassing many top officers in the command structure. He even had the habit of giving orders directly to small brigade-type operations led by lieutenant colonels using CDMA phones as he knew Tigers were monitoring all their radio communications. In one instance we can recall that when we reached the base camp of one such unit advancing north of Vavuniya, parallel to A-9 highway one evening, Fonseka came on line while we were meeting the lieutenant colonel leading that push and immediately attention was drawn to field maps on the improvised table there and the Army Commander without wasting any formalities started asking why they had not completed a certain task assigned to them that day, the poor Lt. Col. literally stammering said they had run into a minefield and immediately Fonseka shouted back and pointed out that there is a nearby trail used by lumber thieves and for them to advance along that to bypass the minefield. And that is how Fonseka, who knew the northern terrain like the back of his hand, won the war that many experts said was unwinnable by our security forces.

But the tragedy is that Field Marshal Fonseka has forgotten how that dream victory was made possible by the tremendous unstinted backing he had received from the then political and security forces leaderships. Earlier capable Generals like Denzil Kobbekaduwa, Wijaya Wimalaratne et al were handicapped by being sabotaged from within or having eccentric political leaderships at the apex, especially with the likes of Presidents Ranasinghe Premadasa and Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, while the former was overly punctual, the latter basically had no sense of time.

A retired Special Forces officer holding middle-level rank confirmed that the Army Chief flew to Kilinochchi on the morning of April 16, 2009, along with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Kilinochchi was brought under military control in the first week of January 2009. The Army Chief visited Vanni east again only after the successful conclusion of the war on May 19, 2009. Therefore, there couldn’t be any basis for Sirisena’s claim that the Army Chief sought to build his image by flying into Vanni often as that was simply not possible with a formidable enemy like the LTTE dominating Wanni, except for periodic strikes by the Army’s deep penetration units that eliminated some key Tiger leaders. After the Army Chief’s visit to Kilinochchi on April 16, 2009, the LTTE lasted less than five weeks.

The war-winning President Mahinda Rajapaksa declared in Parliament on May 19, 2009, “When I won the Presidential Election in 2005 there were LTTE police stations in the North and East. There were Tiger courts. What was missing was only a Tiger parliament. Today we have finished all that forever.”

Sirisena should be especially ashamed that he didn’t at least bother to verify such serious accusations before going public.

The SLFP cannot further delay making a proper assessment of the impact of Sirisena’s culpability as well as negligence on his part pertaining to the Easter Sunday carnage. Sirisena, in addition to being the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and Defence Minister, held the Public Security portfolio at the time the National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) mounted a spate of suicide attacks.

In spite of repeated requests by the coalition partner UNP, Sirisena declined to swear in their nominee though he accepted Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Premier following the Supreme Court declaration of December 13, 2018. Sirisena hasn’t been able to explain his actions though he is bombarded with questions.

Political uncertainty caused by the Sirisena-Rajapaksa alliance, too, may have influenced the NTJ strategy. The Supreme Court ruled that Sirisena’s decision to dissolve Parliament 20 months before the end of its term was unconstitutional. A full seven-judge bench unanimously declared that the President couldn’t dissolve Parliament until it completed a four-and-a-half-year term.

Sirisena’s actions should be examined taking into consideration three major developments in 2015. (1) The President being compelled to accept Singaporean Arjuna Mahendran as Governor of the Central Bank (2) Dissolution of Parliament in late June 2015 to prevent the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) from tabling special report on the first Treasury bond scam perpetrated in late February 2015, no sooner the Yahapalana government assumed office and (3) Sirisena, in his capacity as the Chairman of the SLFP delivered a knockout blow to his own party by declaring that Mahinda Rajapaksa wouldn’t be appointed Prime Minister even if the UPFA won the election.

The last above declaration by Sisisena was meant to dishearten Mahinda supporters. The President obviously wanted to ensure the victory of those who fielded him as the common candidate at the 2015 presidential election. The coalition consisted of the UNP, TNA, JVP, SLMC and other smaller minority parties, all backed by an influential section of the civil society, well-funded by the West. Sirisena’s move restricted the UPFA total to 95 seats, including 12 National List slots whereas the UNP secured 106 seats. The UNP group included 13 National List seats. Sirisena allies TNA won 16 seats, JVP 06, EPDP 01 and SLMC 01. Today both the UNP and SLFP have been reduced to just one MP.

A debilitating setback

There is consensus among the Opposition that the SLFP cannot be part of a coalition against the backdrop of the Supreme Court ordering Sirisena to pay a sum of Rs 100 mn as compensation to the Easter Sunday victims. The apex court in a judgment delivered on January 12, 2023 ordered Sirisena, four officials and the State to pay compensation amounting to Rs. 311 million rupees.

That unprecedented move compelled the Opposition (SLPP rebels, including those in the Uththara Lanka Sabhagaya) to ask Sirisena to take the SLFP out of a coalition formed in January this year to contest indefinitely the postponed Local Government polls.

Sirisena is on record as having said that rebel SLPP lawmakers, Prof. G. L. Peiris and Dullas Alahapperuma visited him at his official residence in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling and requested him to quit the ‘Helicopter’ alliance. They wouldn’t have done so without consulting other constituents.

The ground reality is that the Opposition now found it difficult to accommodate the SLFP in a coalition at any level. The party lacked the strength to go it alone for obvious reasons. The continuing dispute between Sirisena and Jayasekera should be examined against the backdrop of Ports, Shipping and Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva’s success at the High Court of Civil Appeal.

The SLFPer thwarted bids made by Sirisena and Jayasekera, in their capacities as the Chairman and General Secretary of the SLFP, respectively, to prevent him from functioning as Senior Vice President of the party. Silva and the majority of those who had been elected to Parliament on the SLPP ticket, have pledged their allegiance to President Wickremesinghe. In fact, with the removal of Jayasekera, Sirisena appeared to have deprived himself of an apparatus capable of even basic organizational work.

The Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) into the Easter Sunday carnage, in its final report, made a damning recommendation pertaining to Sirisena. For some strange reason, Sirisena continued to downplay the severity of the PCoI recommendation. Declaring that Sirisena failed in his duties and responsibilities and his failure went beyond mere civil negligence, the PCoI advised the Attorney General to consider instituting criminal proceedings under any suitable provision in the Penal Code. (Final report, Vol 01, p 265).

Sirisena’s efforts to consolidate his position in the party with an eye on the next presidential election appeared to have collapsed due to the Easter Sunday fallout. Minister de Silva challenged in court the legality of constitutional amendments pertaining to the party. In his capacity as the Chairman, Sirisena sought the power to reconstitute the party Central Committee by nominating 35 members of his choice, increase the number of Vice Presidents to 14 and Senior Vice Presidents to seven. Sirisena also sought unilateral authority to remove any office bearer.

Sirisena appeared to have blundered by calling for UN intervention/assistance in the wake of Channel 4’s wild claims that the Easter Sunday carnage was facilitated by State Intelligence Service (SIS) and the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) helped SLPP candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa to win last presidential poll conducted in November 2019. As that accusation had been made even before the presidential election, Sirisena owed the public an explanation why his party contested on the SLPP ticket at the subsequent general election held in August 2020. Sirisena appeared to have tied himself in knots with his illogical greedy strategy.

The former President lacked both time and space to address issues at hand, the latest being the accusations pertaining to the General Secretary of the party trying to oust him. Sirisena has refused to disclose the names of those involved in the alleged bid to oust him. Perhaps, Sirisena has quite conveniently forgotten how he betrayed Mahinda Rajapaksa in late 2014 just a couple of weeks before the presidential poll and morning after enjoying a sumptuous string hopper dinner with the Rajapaksas at Temple Trees.

Difficult road ahead

Sirisena needs to take stock of things. This should be done without further delay as pressure builds-up on his party to address issues arising out of the Easter Sunday carnage. The former President must realize that the party will continue to suffer as long as he remains as its leader. Wickremesinghe under any circumstances wouldn’t accept the SLFP as long as Sirisena served as its Chairman though the PCoI also strongly criticized Wickremesinghe’s own response to growing Islamic extremism here.

The PCoI observed that Wickremesinghe’s approach towards Islamic extremism was one of the primary reasons for the failure on the part of the government to neutralize the threat. Wickremesinghe’s approach facilitated the build-up of Islamic extremism and caused the Easter Sunday carnage (Final report, Vol 01, p 276-277). However, the PCoI refrained from making any specific recommendation in respect of Wickremesinghe. The Catholic Church has publicly questioned the failure on the part of the PCoI in this regard.

Of the politicians investigated by the PCoI and whose names transpired in the Easter Sunday coverage, Sirisena seems to be the only one really affected. Had Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka or a UNP member served as the Law and Order Minister at the time of the Easter Sunday attacks, Sirisena could have exploited the situation. The civil society grouping that backed Sirisena’s candidature at the 2015 presidential backed Fonseka as the Law and Order Minister. Before Sirisena brought that portfolio under himself, Tilak Marapana, PC (not in active politics now), Sagala Ratnayake (Security Advisor to the incumbent President) and Ranjith Maddumabandara (General Secretary of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya) served as the Law and Order Minister.

Sirisena cannot absolve himself of the responsibility for political instability caused by the constitutional
coup that may have influenced the NTJ. The live interview with Samarawickrema has further weakened Sirisena’s position. The former President struggled to convince the interviewer that both the Presidential Security Division (PSD) and the Prime Ministerial Security Division (PMSD) hadn’t been aware of the warning given by the Indian intelligence service on April 04, 2019. But many others, like present Tourism Minister Harin Fernando, had been aware of the threat through other channels. In fact his late father had told him not to attend church on that fateful Sunday because of the pending threat. It being such an important date in the Christian calendar even many of those aware of the threat would have ignored the warning as a mere crying wolf.

The shocking revelation how SLFPer and ex-UPPA MP Shantha Bandara, in his capacity as an aide to the then President Sirisena, extended support to those who managed a factory where the suicide jackets were alleged to have been produced, further tarnished the SLFP’s image. Bandara is among the 13 SLFPers elected on the SLPP ticket in the current Parliament. Interestingly, Sirisena accommodated Bandara on the UPFA National List after M.L.A.M. Hisbullah resigned in the first week of January 2019 to receive appointment as Governor of the Eastern Province. This appointment was made just four months before the Easter Sunday blasts. Hisbullah was among those politicians who appeared before the PCoI after having been examined by the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on the Easter Sunday carnage. The PCoI, having asserted that Hisbullah facilitated the spread of ‘extremism within Kattankudy’ has now got back the massive building complex in the East meant to house a private Shariah University that had been built with no expenses spared, thanks to secret lavish funding from Arab donors!

Recently, the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government handed back the Batticaloa University that had been brought under the military after the Easter Sunday killings to Hisbullah despite the skullduggery involved from the word go. Perhaps a separate article based on proceedings of PSC and PCoI relating to the private Batticaloa University may help those really interested in the issues at hand to understand how politics transcends ‘everything.’

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Midweek Review

Humanity in crisis, will SL accept challenge to build a maritime community with shared future?



Keynote Speech delivered by

Tamara Kunanayakam

at International Conference on
“Environment, Development and Human Rights:

Marine Ecological Protection in the Process of Modernization”, held in Beijing, China on 26 Sept. 2023.

I’m grateful to the organisers for this opportunity to share my reflections on China’s ambitious project of building a Maritime Community with a Shared Future at a time when international cooperation is indispensable to meet the challenges of an unprecedented systemic crisis of epic proportions that is threatening all of humanity.

I feel particularly concerned coming as I do from a strategically located island on the Indian Ocean – Sri Lanka – that has had to pay a heavy price for resisting pressures to become a camp-follower of an increasingly aggressive global hegemon (the US) in decline. External interference in our internal affairs, unilateral sanctions, political destabilisation, selective targeting at the UN Human Rights Council, and a long, foreign-backed separatist war has been our lot for the past four decades.

We are in an emergency. It is time we address the crisis of humanity at its root. Identifying responsibility is no longer an option, it is a necessity, because political decisions are never neutral. They reflect a certain vision of society and of the world – and where visions are irreconcilable, choices must be made – and assumed!

Mine will be a right to development approach – multidimensional and systemic, an alternative approach which rejects the notion that Western civilisation defines progress and development and calls for a development strategy in which the people are the central subjects of development not objects, the driving force and architects of their destiny. There is no single model; it cannot be imposed from the outside. The 1986 UN Declaration on the Right to Development calls for a development that is based on social justice and equality and not on markets, nor profits, nor growth, a development in which social progress is achieved not through competition, but through solidarity and cooperation. The right to development approach seeks to tackle the causes of inequality and injustices at its root, identifying them, then eliminating them, as a pre-condition for achieving development for all people without discrimination.

At the root of the crisis that manifests itself in various forms – economic, social, political, environmental, geopolitical, including at the heart of the capitalist West, is the dominant economic model, Capitalism, and the global order based on US hegemony, whose purpose is to break down national barriers to capital’s expansion in search of profit. Sovereignty is the principal enemy of capitalism and of US hegemony – hence, the importance of addressing the security challenge and guaranteeing maritime peace for marine ecological protection to be effective. The defence of sovereignty – and its inherent right to territorial integrity – also happens to be the cornerstone of the United Nations Charter-based international order, without which cooperation between sovereign States indispensable to resolving problems with global ramifications would be impossible.

Any discussion on building a Community with a Shared Future cannot, therefore, ignore the interrelationship between (a) the dominant economic system – Capitalism; (b) US hegemony and military force – they go hand in hand; (c) maritime security; and (d) the environmental challenge. The global expansion of Capital is always accompanied by an ideology to legitimise unhindered expansion and the use of unilateral coercive measures, including IMF/World Bank conditionalities, sanctions, and the threat or use of military force.

Tamara delievering keynote address

Regarding the maritime challenge, how does the unilateral vision of the United States and its vassals, the United Kingdom and France in particular, manifest itself?

America’s so-called “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” military strategy that is being played out in the South China Sea, the nebulous “rules-based order” that it seeks to impose, and the domination of the ocean’s valuable seabed resources by the free-market ideology represent the principal threat to building a Maritime Community with a Shared Future.

I will address each of these separately:

(a) “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” military strategy

The Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy is no different from the logic that propelled Western colonial expansion. It is a military strategy whose objective is to combat China, grab the oceans valuable resources on behalf of a tiny oligarchy, and nullify the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Seas that restricts its domination.

The UN Convention on the Law of the Seas had imposed certain restrictions on the freedom of the dominant Western maritime powers to freely roam the seas. A compromise reached between these powers and developing countries had significantly reduced the area of the ocean they had once dominated using the unlimited 17th Century Freedom of the Seas policy. It also increased the spaces under national jurisdiction of coastal States. The territorial sea under the sovereignty of the coastal State was expanded from 3 to 12 nautical miles, and a new 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) was created over which the coastal State enjoyed sovereign rights and jurisdiction. The areas beyond national jurisdiction were confined to the high seas, with a new “freedom of the high seas” policy introducing restrictions on its use, including provisions that they be reserved for peaceful purposes.

It is no coincidence that Obama’s November 2011 pivot to the Asia-Pacific saw China as the principal threat at a time Western capitalism was grappling with the 2008 Great Recession, and US hegemony was being challenged by newly emerging powers, among whom China and its strategic partners, played an important role. Already then, the superiority of Chinese socialism and its ability to meet the needs of humanity was becoming evident.

The Free and Open Indo Pacific is a sinister networked security system designed to dominate two distinct oceans and continents – along with their airspace, cyberspace, and valuable marine resources. The former US Deputy National Security Advisor Matt Pottinger described the Indo Pacific as an area reaching from “California to Kilimanjaro”. In other words, an area covering the entire expanse of land and waters – from the Western Pacific coast of the United States, through the South China Sea and across the Indian Ocean to the Eastern Coast of Africa, Western Asia, the Persian Gulf, and the Middle East!

(b) The ‘rules-based order’

In July 2010, the Obama Administration declared as a national interest priority the so-called ‘Freedom of Navigation operations’ by American warships and military aircraft in the South China Sea. They were part of a fait accompli strategy to nullify UNCLOS and impose a nebulous “rules-based order” by forcibly penetrating the territorial seas and Exclusive Economic Zones of coastal States that set restrictions on the military use of seas under their jurisdiction. In the case of territorial seas, over which the coastal state has sovereignty, Washington cynically claims that the UNCLOS provision permitting “innocent passage” applies also to warships, not only to commercial vessels. In the case of Exclusive Economic Zones, it rejects the sovereign rights and national jurisdiction accorded to coastal States, referring to them as “international waters” to which unlimited “freedom of the seas” apply. It should be noted that the terms “international waters” and “freedom of the seas,” both exist only in US military documents, and not in any international law.

(c) Free-market ideology and the ocean’s resources

As for the facilitation of corporate plunder of the ocean’s valuable seabed resources, the United States and its Western allies cynically manoeuvred during the UN Law of the Sea negotiations to obtain corporate control over the area of the ocean beyond national jurisdiction, recognised as Common Heritage of Mankind. During negotiations on deep ocean mining in the area, developing countries had argued in favour of a multilateral International Seabed Authority with a monopoly to exploit seabed resources. They were against a free-market model that would reduce the value of seabed resources to free-market prices, measure efficiency in terms of competition and commercial viability, and be based on decisions taken on technical considerations, rather than on political judgement. The West, on the other hand, had insisted on commercial viability and incentives to private corporations, equating free-market with “freedom of the seas”. To resolve the conflict, the United States proposed a compromise ‘parallel system’ permitting both models to function simultaneously. However, having cornered developing countries into agreeing to the parallel system, the US and its Western allies rolled back the concessions on which the parallel system had been secured. And, once rolled back, the US rejected the already reduced regime, and refused to sign the Treaty.

The outcome of the betrayal was an Implementing Agreement on the commercial model, with the monopoly Enterprise postponed until it could function without subsidies – which means, never – or at least not until we have a just and new international order! This Agreement could have far-reaching consequences for future legal agreements on such important issues as technology transfer and the uses of outer space.

How do you negotiate with an opponent whose history is a history of duplicity and betrayal?


Given the formidable obstacles in our way, how do we move forward toward building a maritime community with a shared future?

We can no longer satisfy ourselves with piecemeal approaches that, if at all, address only the consequences, and even then, only partially or temporarily. The situation demands that we rise to the occasion, identify the causes with all honesty, analyse the situation with lucidity, and take actions that are courageous.

It is clear that capitalism, driven by the profit motive, is incapable of meeting the needs and aspirations of the majority of the world’s people, and the ability of our earth to sustain life. It is clear that US hegemony, its facilitator and protector, whose vision is a unilateral world order based on the ideology of American Exceptionalism and Manifest Destiny, stands opposed to UN Charter-based multilateralism and the urgent need for international cooperation, founded on respect for the principle of sovereignty and sovereign equality of States. Capitalism and US hegemony constitute the principal obstacle to development, peace, human rights, and life on Earth.

What is needed is the political will to clarify concepts, engage in a battle of ideas, make choices, and translate words into concrete action. Ultimately, however, it is the balance of forces that will determine which interpretation of concepts will prevail, which ideas take root, and how and what form actions will take.

In the midst of the crisis, and the intensification of geopolitical conflicts, and wars, including NATO’s proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, we are already witnessing that shift in the balance of forces – the emergence of a new multipolar world order under the impetus of China, which is advancing a vision of a new kind of cooperation in which there are no losers, only winners. We are also seeing an acceleration in emancipatory processes, such as de-dollarisation, the expansion of BRICS, and, the success of the Belt and Road Initiative which will celebrate its 10th Anniversary soon, and which involves more than 150 countries and more than 30 international organisations, affecting more than 60% of the world’s population and approximately 35% of the global economy. We are also seeing a new wave of movements seeking liberation from insidious forms of alien domination and control, such as is taking place in the Sahel.

With social and political upheaval affecting the capitalist world, the single most important threat to the order based on Western values and institutional models has become China’s socialism, which has succeeded in achieving what has been described as the 21st century miracle – the elimination of extreme poverty in 2020, bringing 800 million people out of poverty.

In comparison, poverty has continued to grow in the wealthiest parts of the capitalist world. In the United States, according to official figures, poverty rose 4.6% in 2022, and child poverty more than doubled, rising 7.2%. According to Oxfam, in this wealthiest country in the world, nearly 40 million people (11%) live in poverty. A recent Wall Street Journal investigation revealed that every year, hundreds of children die or are left severely injured in emergency rooms across America, with only about 14% certified as ready to treat children. Europe has also seen an alarming increase in the number of children and families living in poverty. According to an IMF report, the number of children suffering from poverty in the EU increased in 2020 by 19%, or close to 1 million. In Germany, one of the richest countries of the world, the number of Germans living in extreme poverty in 2019 even increased by 40% to reach 11,1% of the total population. 13.8 million Germans either live in poverty or are at risk of slipping below the poverty line. In France, according to Oxfam, at least 17% of the population live below the monetary poverty line (food and energy).

Even the World Bank has admitted that China has become the greatest contributor to poverty alleviation in the global context. According to its 2022 figures, China has contributed to approximately three quarters of the global reduction in poverty.

What shape the emerging new world order will take is yet to be determined. International legal instruments that can give sense to collective action for radical change already exist – among them, the 1986 UN Declaration on the Right to Development.

A few days from now, we will be commemorating the 74th anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. At 3 pm on October 1, 1949, in his proclamation address, Chairman Mao Zedong declared : “We, the 475 million Chinese people, have now stood up and the future of our nation is infinitely bright”. During our visit this weekend to Qingdao, we witnessed for ourselves the spectacular achievements of the people of China, and were struck by the trust your founding Leader had in his people.

As we return to our respective countries tomorrow, we will take back with us the inspiring image of a people with a humane vision and the commitment to building a Maritime Community with a Shared Future. It is up to us now to ensure that the balance of forces shifts in favour of humanity! As Sun-Tzu remarked in the Art of War, “Never venture, never win”.

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Midweek Review

Pillar of Hope



By Lynn Ockersz

It’s only the facade that’s left,

But its interior has been in peril,

All these decades of balloting,

And it seems only a matter of time,

Before it’s solidest pillar crumbles,

Taking with it hopes of the enlightened,

Of a reasonable measure of Justice,

Unless there is a gallant late rally,

By the noblest of the land’s spirits,

To protect this prized inheritance,

That best defined the Isle’s standing,

As a democratic entity in word and spirit.

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