Framing the Responsibility to Protect

The 2009 Sri Lankan Civil War

in Global Responsibility to Protect
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The Responsibility to Protect (r2p), as enshrined in the 2005 World Summit Outcome document, aims to protect populations from the commission of mass atrocities. Yet both Sri Lankan government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (ltte) forces killed thousands of civilians during the conclusion of Eelam War Four in Sri Lanka, in spite of the adoption of r2p by the Sri Lankan government. In this article, I argue that these atrocities occurred with little involvement on the part of the international community to stop them, in large part due to existing international political dynamics, which the framing efforts of the Sri Lankan government played upon. The government was able to determine the dominant discourse on the conflict and portrayed it as part of the War on Terror. This facilitated states in supporting the government in the conflict, while diminishing criticism from actors that may otherwise have been more supportive of the invocation of r2p.

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References

6

Shihar Aneez and John Chalmers, ‘Sri Lanka’s strongman president voted out after a decade’, Reuters, 9 January 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/09/us-sri-lanka-election-iduskbn0kg1zi20150109, accessed 13 January 2015.

9

Reuters, ‘Peace Group is Leaving Sri Lanka’, New York Times, 5 January 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/05/world/asia/05lanka.html, accessed 18 May 2013.

11

Associated Press, ‘Timeline of the violence in Sri Lanka’, Foxnews.com, 2 January 2009, www.foxnews.com/2009Jan02/0,4675,assriLankaCivilWar, accessed 26 August 2011.

12

Somini Sengupta, ‘Sri Lanka Rejects Call for Truce, saying Defeat of Rebels Is Near’, New York Times, 30 January 2009, www.nytimes.com/2009/01/30/world/asia/06lanka.html, accessed 22 July 2011; Charles Petri, Report of the Secretary-General’s Internal Review Panel on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka, November 2012, p. 57.

15

Petri, Report of the Secretary-General’s Internal Review Panel on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka, p. 49.

17

Petri, Report of the Secretary-General’s Internal Review Panel on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka, p. 10.

18

Mark McDonald, ‘Fighting Intensifies in Sri Lanka’, New York Times, 7 April 2009, www.nytimes.com/2009/04/07/world/asia/07lanka.html, accessed 26 August 2011.

19

Petri, Report of the Secretary-General’s Internal Review Panel on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka, p. 9.

20

Krishan Francis, ‘Sri Lanka to suspend offensives against rebels’, Fox News/Associated Press, 12 April 2009, www.foxnews.com/2009Apr12/0,4675,assriLankaCivil, accessed 26 August 2011; McDonald, ‘Fighting Intensifies in Sri Lanka’.

22

Petri, Report of the Secretary-General’s Internal Review Panel on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka, p. 13.

24

Bland, ‘Sri Lanka ends ‘combat operations’ on Tamil rebels’; Mark McDonald, ‘Sri Lanka Attacks Said to Kill Dozens in Hospital’, The New York Times, 14 May 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/14/world/asia/14lanka.html, accessed 26 August 2011; Paul Tighe, ‘Sri Lanka Dispels ltte Invincibility, Rajapaksa Says (Update2)’, Bloomberg, 1 May 2009, www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid+21070001&sid=akcfjYbhdOzM, accessed 26 August 2011.

25

Petri, Report of the Secretary-General’s Internal Review Panel on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka, pp. 85–86.

28

Ibid., p. 12.

29

Petri, Report of the Secretary-General’s Internal Review Panel on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka, p. 5.

31

Rodger Payne, ‘Persuasion, Frames, and Normative Construction’, European Journal of International Relations, 37/7 (2001), p. 39.

34

Michael Barnett, ‘Culture, Strategy and Foreign Policy Change: Israel's Road to Oslo’, European Journal of International Relations, 5/5: 6–36 (1999), p. 15

35

William A. Gamson, Talking Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), p. 111.

36

Payne, ‘Persuasion, Frames, and Normative Construction’, p. 40.

37

Ibid., p. 44.

39

Petri, Report of the Secretary-General’s Internal Review Panel on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka, p. 26.

40

Alex Crawford, ‘Packed Sri Lanka Hospital Shelled’, Sky News, 3 February 2009, news.sky.com/skynews/Home/World-News/Sri-Lanka-War-Hospital-In-Puthukkudi, accessed 22 July 2011.

41

Arthur Bright, ‘Sri Lanka bombings move toward capital’, Christian Science Monitor, 6 June 2008, http://www.csmonitor.com/World/terrorism-security/2008/0606/p99s04-duts.html, accessed 26 August 2011.

43

Bright, ‘Sri Lanka bombings move toward capital’; Thomas Fuller, ‘Doctor Reports 378 Dead in Sri Lanka’, New York Times, 11 May 2009, www.nytimes.com/2009/05/11/world/asia/11lanka.html, accessed 26 August 2011.

44

Petri, Report of the Secretary-General’s Internal Review Panel on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka, p. 8.

47

Petri, Report of the Secretary-General’s Internal Review Panel on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka, p. 12.

48

Ibid., pp. 12–13.

53

Nanayakkara in Ravi Nessman, ‘Images show many dead, wounded in Sri Lanka war’, Fox News/Associated Press, 3 February 2009, www.foxnews.com/2009Feb02/0,4675,assriLankaCivil, accessed 26 August 2011.

56

Bobby Ghosh, ‘How to Defeat Insurgencies: Sri Lanka’s Bad Example’, Time Magazine, 20 May 2009, http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1899762,00.html, accessed 26 August 2011.

74

Presidential Media Unit, ‘Bravery of soldiers helped prevent holocaust of 300,000 civilians- Jayantha Dhanapala’, Ministry of Defence and Urban Development Sri Lanka, 30 December 2010, http://www.defence.lk/new.asp?fname=20100825_05, accessed 29 July 2011.

82

Nilanthi Samaranayake, ‘Are Sri Lanka’s Relations with China Deepening? An Analysis of Economic, Military, and Diplomatic Data’, Asian Security, 7/2 (2011), p. 136.

87

Indrani Bagchi, ‘India, China prevent European bid to corner Sri Lanka on rights violations’, The Times of India, 29 May 2009, http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2009-05-29/india/28169434_1_sri-lanka-lanka-issue-human-rights-council, accessed 17 July 2012.

90

Petri, Report of the Secretary-General’s Internal Review Panel on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka, p. 82.

93

Ryan Lizza, ‘The Consequentialist’, The New Yorker, 2 May 2011, http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/05/02/110502fa_fact_lizza?currentPage=all, accessed 23 June 2012.

105

Sørbø et al., Pawns of Peace: Evaluation of Norwegian Peace Efforts in Sri Lanka, 1997–2009, pp. 67–132.

106

Ibid., p. 67.

107

Ibid., p. 82.

108

Petri, Report of the Secretary-General’s Internal Review Panel on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka, p. 6.

110

Author Interview, 2011, interview with Anonymous United Nations Official, 1 December 2011, New York; GordonWeiss, The Cage: The Fight for Sri Lanka and the Last Days of the Tamil Tigers (London: The Bodley Head, 2011), p. 140; sg/sm/12183, 13 April 2009.

111

Petri, Report of the Secretary-General’s Internal Review Panel on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka, p. 14.

112

Ibid., p. 11–12.

119

Petri, Report of the Secretary-General’s Internal Review Panel on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka, p. 4.

120

Ibid., pp. 28–29.

122

Weiss, The Cage, p. 229; A/hrc/S-11/l.1/Rev.2, 27 May 2009.

123

Brahma Chellaney, ‘Behind the Sri Lankan Bloodbath’, Forbes, 10 September 2009, http://www.forbes.com/2009/10/08/tamil-tigers-rajiv-gandhi-opinions-contributors-sri-lanka.html, accessed 26 July 2011.

125

Petri, Report of the Secretary-General’s Internal Review Panel on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka, p. 25.

126

Ibid., p. 82.

127

Ibid., p. 25.

132

Petri, Report of the Secretary-General’s Internal Review Panel on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka, pp. 31–32.

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