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An International Court for Self-Determination is urgently needed to ensure justice for millions of people ruled by racist, discriminatory, and genocidal nation-states around the world.

Speaking at a webinar on “Right to Self-Determination of Nations under Occupation” on 31 July V. Rudrakumaran, Prime Minister of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam urged Mr. Livingstone Sewanyana, the UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, to make recommendations either to the United Nations Secretary General or to the United Nations General Assembly to establish such a court. While neither the Secretary General nor the General Assembly has the power currently to establish a tribunal to issue binding decisions, they could take some important steps forward in this regard. According to Prime Minister Rudrakumaran, even non-binding decisions could provide guidelines that will help fashion appropriate remedies for conflicts pertaining to self-determination.

The senior TGTE leader made these observations in the presence of Mr. Livingstone Sewanyana, the UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, who was the main speaker at the webinar. The event was organized by the Global Tamil Movement and Association Bharati.

In his speech, Mr. Rudrakumaran congratulated the Honorable Sewanyana for his commitment and contribution to the promotion of democratic and equitable international order. He also extended Eelam Tamil solidarity to the representatives of Western Sahara, the Kurds, Southern Yemen, Palestine, Catalonia, Occidental Armenia, and Southern Cameroon. He said that in the view of Eelam Tamils the cause of conflict, unnecessary death, and destruction in the world was due to the fact that the prevalent international order is neither democratic nor equitable. He further said that the present international law order is primarily designed ‘by the states, of the states, for the states’.

He quoted the Tamil National Leader, Mr. Veluppillai Pirabaharan, and said that the states do not act on righteousness nor justice, but rather on the basis of their self-interest. He emphasized the fact that the international order is state-centric. He further stated that the international institutions, both the monetary institutions such as the IMF or World Bank and the judicial institutions such as the International Court of Justice [ICJ] or the International Criminal Court [ICC], are controlled by states. Non-state actors such as liberation movements and persecuted peoples do not factor into the decision-making process of these institutions.

Rudrakumaran TGTEMr. Rudrakumaran further stated that Mr. Sewanyana was well aware of this problem and has committed to rectify it. He pointed out that Mr. Sewanyana in his report to the UN General Assembly dated July 30, 2019, stated that in order for the International Order to become democratic and equitable, one of his top priorities was to cease functioning on the basis of exclusion and include public participation in their decision-making process of traditional multi-lateral institutions.

Mr. Rudrakumaran further stated that the Eelam Tamils, despite having a traditional homeland and losing more than 100,000 people during the final stages of the war, are a prime example of the way the prevalent international order is indifferent to people fighting for the right to self-determination. He said that Eelam Tamils, like the people of Scotland, Bangladesh, Croatia, and South Sudan have a distinct language and a distinct culture as well as the subjective elements identified by Judge Ammoun in the Western Sahara case with respect to self-determination, such as a conscious effort, concerted effort, lasting will, and real determination.

The TGTE leader said however currently there was no forum in the international arena where relevant stakeholders can discuss, debate, and resolve the right to self-determination in a peaceful manner. He pointed out that the actions of the Human Rights Committee were also frustrating, as when an individual brought a complaint before it pertaining to the denial of self-determination the Committee simply dismissed it, stating, that an individual cannot bring complaint pertains to self-determination which belongs to the People. When a representative of a People brought a complaint, the committee dismissed it by questioning their credentials or locus standi.

For example, the Grand Captain of the Mikmaq Tribal Society in Canada was told that he had not shown himself to be the authorized representative of his society. And when the Lubicon Lake Ban in Canada posed the question whether they constituted a ‘people’, the Human Rights Committee claimed it could not address the issue at all. Also, many states such as the Sri Lankan one refuse to fully recognize or accept Article One of the United Nations’ Civil and Political Rights Covenant, which pertains to self-determination. Thus, for Eelam Tamils that doors are completely shut from all sides.

Others who spoke at the webinar included Ms. Omeima Abdeslam, Representant Permanent of Front Polisario in Geneva; Professor Paul Newman, Human Rights Professor at Bangalore University in India; Ms. Layla Mohamad, Kurds’ Human Rights Activist; Ms. Nadia Hafedh, Southern Independent Group Member and Head of the South Yemeni Women’s Forum (SWYF) in Sandwell, England; Ms. GhadaAlrayan, Consultant and Researcher by Law for Palestine; Ms. Clara Serra, Lawyer and Member of the Association Sine Qua Non, Catalonia; Ms. Lydia Margossian, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Armenia Occidental; and Mr. Prince Ebechu George, Human Rights Activist, Southern Cameroon.


(This article was published in Fortnightly Magazine 'Abel', August 31, 2021)

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