Monday, December 15, 2008

SCOPP Chief responds to questions posed by FLICT

At the partner day set by partners of the facilitate Local Initiatives for disagreement Transformation (FLICT) scheme of German Technical Cooperation, a number of questions were put to the Secretary General of the Peace Secretariat regarding the Peace procedure as well as mechanisms whereby Non-Governmental Organizations could add to Peace. The dialogue was connected with deliberations the Peace Secretariat had had with FLICT concerning how it could most efficaciously fulfil its mandate.
Since the sitting was over-running and the Secretary General had to leave for another appointment, he agreed to answer any further questions in writing. Though these were big, since they raised important and attractive points, the following answers were full and are now made more widely obtainable.
1. Is there a device implemented by the Peace Secretariat to increase consciousness of the role of civil society?
It depends what is meant by whose consciousness is under attack. Obviously it is not our business to make the wider community aware of the Civil Society role. It is our business, insofar as it affects the work of government, to induce members of Civil civilization that their role necessitates working in company with government rather than confrontationally. We cannot of course preach, but we do try to engage with Civil Society when they come our way, and as with FLICT, which depends to some extent on government participation, we have tried to develop suitable parameter.
2. The respect and credit of our society towards NGOs has decreased. How can it be restored?
It is essential for NGOs to make obvious that their aim is to work for the advantage of our people, which must involve cooperation with an elected government. This does not mean careless acquiescence in government policies, but it does mean tolerant that communication with government must be based on accepting its primary role as the accountable choice of the people. unluckily a few NGOs have taken it upon themselves to take for granted that they belong to a higher order of things, some even talking of holding a balance between government and - violently in the present context - terrorist forces. This has created a bad impression, and it is vital to affirm that NGOs are see-through and accountable in what they do, and be conventional to policies laid downward by the duly elected government. Within such parameters of course we would encourage freedom of action, but this must be done through conversation and formal agreements, not arbitrarily.
3. Why doesn't the government come up with a tough solution which is satisfactory for the Tamil group of people for the national problem? Is the APRC a fence to this?
The government is doing its best, but you must remember that much time was wasted in assuming that any answer had to be acceptable to the LTTE. Though it became clear over the years that nothing would be acceptable to the LTTE except its own strict state, it was only this year that the government was able to make it clear that talks with democratic pluralistic Tamil forces would take main concern. Sadly some elements, overseas as well as local, keep talking about the need to talk with the LTTE, which makes it more difficult to work to a decisive solution through the APRC.
4. What sort of intervention have been made by the National Human Rights charge in relating to the new disappearances, killings etc?
That should be addressed to the NHRC, but I believe it responds to all complaints and conducts investigation. It be supposed to be noted that the appeals of the NHRC for help to add to its effectiveness, and chiefly the work of its local offices, was thwarted by a challenging move toward supported by some international personnel who wanted to in effect put back it with an office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. They behaved irresponsibly in this look upon, in effect suppressing a UN sponsored report that suggested intensification the NHRC, and not using financial support given by foreign sources to give UN Volunteers to NHRC local Offices. though, the new UN High official has accepted the government place that there can be no inquiry now of an office in Colombo, and is gently cooperating in serving us to improve the Human human rights state of relationships in other ways. One of these is assistance to the NHRC.
5. Does government follow an ethical device to check the work of non-governmental organizations? If yes, what it is?
There was little dependable monitoring of NGOs, maybe because in the rush of NGOs that came in, after the tsunami, and maybe just before when the CFA seemed to offer much hope, much was conventional in good faith. Some of this was necessary, but there have been problems, and the government is now trying to develop appropriate mechanisms. The responsibility for completion will lie with individual line Ministries, but I must say I have been shocked in the investigations I have undertaken, about the absence of discussion with government over any projects, and clear agreements, even though the terms under which NGOs operate insist these.
6. The statements made by state media (such as ITN) pertaining to NGOs are wrong and unethical. Do these occur without the consent of the government?
I am not certain what you mean by wrong or unprincipled. I think that in Sri Lanka a lot of news is based on report and without hindrance opinion, and I have no uncertainty government channel are similar to confidential channels in this regard. I do not think there is any custom of trying to run even government channels by ensuring payment of what is available by officials approaching some sort of official government line - that sort of control is not the way this government behave.
7. Is it fair, for NGOs to be compulsory to work according to in office government policies? Where the room for peace is since government supports the war and a military answer?
These are two separate questions -
a. NGOs have to work in terms of the polices of any chosen government in any country, though of course this income just a broad framework, and more abstention from doing what is contrary to government policy rather than actually implementing facts that government wants. You cannot have a state of affairs where inexplicable forces work in agreement with their own policies.
b. The government is dedicated to eradicating terrorism, and in the nonattendance of any evidence that the LTTE will abandon terrorism otherwise, it has to follow an armed struggle. This is the answer for the terrorist problem, the government has never swerved from the position that there is a political problem that requires a following solution. This distinction is muddied both by the LTTE, which has always puzzled politics and violence, and by those who, whether plainly or otherwise, think a terrorist outfit must, in spite of of whether it abandon terrorism or not, be part of a negotiated political solution.
8. As you mentioned, is there a arrangement or space for NGOs to work in order to put into practice state policies?
Of course, and we welcome collaboration from NGOs in developing their own initiatives within that room.
9. What is the best way to stop dishonesty that exists in Sri Lanka?
That is a hard question, and I think a number of proceedings need to be tried, counting a greater sense of answerability and blame amongst public servants, a Right to in order Act so that officials - and functionaries in the confidential sector - recognize that everything should be public if not there is good reason for it not to be (rather than the other way around), a credit in the public that human rights should go with everyday jobs, clearsightedness about get rid of the feeling that one exception does not matter so that we all worry officials for small special favours that then add up - and of course strict adherence to the Rule of Law, involving much better training and teaching for public servants and those who act as public watchdogs.
10. There is a culture of earning without work in Sri Lanka. How do we change this attitude and eradicate corruption?
By developing a culture of rewarding actual work, being serious about usual assessments of staff, promoting on merit rather than long repair, and requiring public awareness of the objectives of public institution and capacity of success. Reading reports and following up on them is essential - for instance all schools should publish their consequences over a five year period, but instructive administrators should then follow up on any shortcomings, ensure promotions for teachers who get good results, censure those who are not serving their pupils, particularly those who are absent more than they should be.
11. What are the elements in government transparency which should be disclosed and shouldn't?
As mentioned above, everything should be open to the public unless there is good reason - which should be recorded in writing - for something to be confidential. It should also be a matter of course that outcomes are publicized even without people asking - for instance universities and hospitals could publish a monthly record of all expenditure with records of benefits. This would also help to make clear the positive things that are being achieved through government spending.
12. Is government's position always correct? There are different approaches to fulfill the real democratic values in the country. The problem is if government attempt to always push its agenda without considering the long term interests of the country. What do you think about this?
Obviously no government can say that its positions are all correct, but an elected government has the right to work according to its beliefs which of course it thinks are correct and in the long term interests of the country. Clearly consultation is important, but unfortunately many oppositional forces in this country - I am talking not only of politicians - are confrontational and destructive, so consultation is not always helpful. At the same time it would help if there were much more awareness of what self-governing values mean - unfortunately our education scheme tends to encourage rote learning, whereas we should move towards looking at different viewpoints and judging in accordance with proof and rational quarrel. I think much more education of dangerous thinking in schools and other educational institutions is vital if we are to move forward.
13. Can local NGOs carry out a programme to make state agencies aware of their work?
Obviously they can and should, and I hope FLICT makes a start in institutionalizing this sort of approach.
14. The government neither appreciates the work of local NOGs nor makes the public aware of the work they do. Is there a programme to enhance the harmonization between the government and NGOs?
Again, I don't think that is correct, because surely many people in government are very appreciative of some of the work that is done, and the labors of many in the NGO sector. But institutionalizing this, moving forward with productive NGOs whilst minimizing the waste and destruction of NGOs with dissimilar agenda, is amazing that the NGO splitting up also would do well to endorse.

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