Please recognise Sri Lanka is a Sovereign state

Lakshman Indranath Keerthisinghe | Published on June 9, 2013 at 5:46 pm

The people’s government, made for the people, made by the people and answerable to the people

-Daniel Webster –Speech

Nonis Dr. Chris with HRH Prine Charles Ambassador-UK1

Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the UK Dr. Chris Nonis with Prince Charles

On the question of an international independent process to assess progress as called for by the UN, the High Commissioner said that one needs to draw a distinction between an international process and an independent process. “We do have an independent inquiry and many people who initially criticised the LLRC process changed their views when they actually saw the 388-paged document.

A sovereign state has been described as a political organization with a centralized government that has supreme independent authority over a geographic area. It has a permanent population, a government and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither dependent on nor subject to any other power or state. The existence or disappearance of a state is a question of fact. While according to the declaratory theory of state recognition a sovereign state can exist without being recognized by other sovereign states, unrecognized states will often find it hard to exercise full treaty-making powers and engage in diplomatic relations with other sovereign states.(Wikepedia)

Sovereignty has taken on a different meaning with the development of the principle of self-determination and the prohibition against the threat or use of force as recognized in jus cogens norms of modern international law. The United Nations Charter, the Declaration on Rights and Duties of State, and the charters of regional international organizations express the view that all states are juridically equal and enjoy the same rights and duties based upon the mere fact of their existence as persons under international law. The right of nations to determine their own political status and exercise permanent sovereignty within the limits of their territorial jurisdictions is widely recognized.

State recognition signifies the decision of a sovereign state to treat another entity as also being a sovereign state. Recognition can be either express or implied and is usually retroactive in its effects. It doesn’t necessarily signify a desire to establish or maintain diplomatic relations.

There is no definition that is binding on all the members of the community of nations on the criteria for statehood. In international law, however, there are several theories of when a state should be recognized as sovereign. The constitutive theory of statehood defines a state as a person of international law if, and only if, it is recognized as sovereign by other states. This theory of recognition was developed in the 19th century. Under it, a state was sovereign if another sovereign state recognized it as such. Because of this, new states could not immediately become part of the international community or be bound by international law, and recognized nations did not have to respect international law in their dealings with them. In 1815 at the Congress of Vienna the Final Act recognized only 39 sovereign states in the European diplomatic system, and as a result it was firmly established that in future new states would have to be recognized by other states, and that meant in practice recognition by one or more of the great powers.

One of the major criticisms of this law is the confusion caused when some states recognize a new entity, but other states do not. Hersch Lauterpacht, one of the theory’s main proponents, suggested that it is a state’s duty to grant recognition as a possible solution. However, a state may use any criteria when judging if they should give recognition and they have no obligation to use such criteria. Many states may only recognize another state if it is to their advantage In 1912, Oppenheim had the following to say on constitutive theory: ‘…International Law does not say that a State is not in existence as long as it is not recognized, but it takes no notice of it before its recognition. Through recognition only and exclusively a State becomes an International Person and a subject of International Law.’

By contrast, the “declarative” theory defines a state as a person in international law if it meets the following criteria: 1) a defined territory; 2) a permanent population; 3) a government and 4) a capacity to enter into relations with other states. According to declarative theory, an entity’s statehood is independent of its recognition by other states. The declarative model was most famously expressed in the 1933, Montevideo Convention.Article 3 of the Montevideo Convention declares that statehood is independent of recognition by other states. In contrast, recognition is considered a requirement for statehood by the constitutive theory of statehood.A similar opinion about “the conditions on which an entity constitutes a state” is expressed by the European Economic Community Opinions of the Badinter Arbtiration Committee, which found that a state was defined by having a territory, a population, and a political authority.

The state practice relating to the recognition of states typically falls somewhere between the declaratory and constitutive approaches. International law does not require a state to recognize other states. Recognition is often withheld when a new state is seen as illegitimate or has come about in breach of international law. Almost universal non-recognition by the international community of Rhodesia and Northern Cyprus are good examples of this. In the former case, recognition was widely withheld when the white minority seized power and attempted to form a state along the lines of Apartheid South Adrica, a move that the United Nations Security Council described as the creation of an “illegal racist minority régime”. In the latter case, recognition was widely withheld from a state created in Northern Cyprus on land illegally invaded by Turkey in 1974. Most sovereign states are states de jure and de facto (i.e. they exist both in law and in reality). However, sometimes states exist only as de jure states in that an organization is recognized as having sovereignty over and being the legitimate government of a territory over which they have no actual control. (Source:Internet)

It has to be noted that Sri Lanka is an independent sovereign state ruled by a legitimately elected government. No other state has a right to interfere in the internal affaires of a sovereign state under international law subject to certain United Nations mechanisms. The diaspora influenced by certain disgruntled elements of the LTTE presently organized under the TGTE is hell bent on destabilizing Sri Lanka by inviting foreign intervention in our motherland in order to establish a State of Eelaam in the North and East of Sri Lanka which endeavour is opposed even by the Sri Lankans living in the North and East of our country.

When questioned on refugees and persecution by the BBC at the interview referred to at the outset of this piece, Dr Nonis said, “I would say there are many people who for various different reasons come and seek asylum, and I think what we have to separate, is those who seek asylum as economic refugees, from those who seek asylum as political refugees” – You must remember the demography of the country, the majority of Tamil people actually live in the Centre and South of Sri Lanka, if you look at Colombo, its roughly a 30-30-30 percent split between Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim. We have a huge dichotomy or disjuncture in perception between what is portrayed here and the reality of contemporary Sri Lanka”. It is about time that the international community learnt the ground realities existing in Sri Lanka at the present time without being misguided by the adverse propaganda disseminated by the TGTE and its allies.

Lakshman I.Keerthisinghe LLB, LLM.MPhil,



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Nonis Dr. Chris with HRH Prine Charles Ambassador-UK1

Please recognise Sri Lanka is a Sovereign state

The people’s government, made for the people, made by the people and answerable to the people -Daniel Webster –Speech Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the UK Dr. Chris ...