By Ranil Senanayake –
Throughout the world, the owning or holding of and that belongs to yet another sovereign nation, termed “territories held” have recently been largely returned. The Panama Canal was returned to Panama in January 2000, Hong Kong was returned to China by the United Kingdom in 1997, and Portugal returned Macau Island to China in 1999. The notable worldwide exception has been the US base in Cuba. This history is interesting, as it will certainly have a bearing on the historical events that we are attempting to set in motion.
In 1903 right after the turbulent period following the wars of independence, President Theodore Roosevelt signed an agreement with Cuba’s new government, leasing Guantanamo bay for two,000 gold coins per year. History notes that the agreement was forced on the new Cuban government to give the U.S. navy permission to occupy the bay. As Cuba attained much more independence and the Platt Amendment was annulled a new lease was negotiated between the Roosevelt administration and a Cuban government that integrated Fulgencio Batista as one of 3 signatories. When the Revolution triumphed in 1959, the new Cuban government requested that Guantánamo be returned to Cuba. Instead of returning it, the U.S. banned its soldiers stationed at the bay from entering Cuban territory. Right after this the Guantánamo base became a constant source of friction between the two nations. Ever because, Cuba’s contact for the return of the location that the United States occupies is based on the principle of sovereignty,”
Sovereignty implies supreme energy or authority. When utilised as national sovereignty the authority of a state to govern itself or yet another state. Typically, it is granted to foreign diplomatic missions and regional laws are not implemented on these lands as seen in the case of Julian Assange, sheltering from the British police, in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The query that should concern us is: Will giving outright ownership of our land to non-diplomatic entities, dilute our authority to enforce the laws of the land inside such lands? It is in this context that the agreements entered to by our Government and foreign Firms ought to be looked at. A deal as crucial as this ought to not have be left to a few bureaucrats, politicians and businessmen to choose, it must have been put prior to the men and women. Who will define the limits of our sovereignty over the new landfill? These drooling more than the possibility of producing a rapid buck must slow down and think.
If we are getting threatened with all sorts of economic repercussions at this early stage of the partnership, what sorts of pressures will the future have to deal with? If we do not see the writing on the wall, as seen from the existing reactions, which do not take into account the wellness and well getting of the natives (us) as essential at all and focus only the enterprise side of the equation, is the price to us not obvious?
Let us examine at arguments for continuing with the project. The China Communications Building Organization (CCCC) may sue us, yes they might, but the knife cuts each ways. If they have transgressed the laws of the land and/or if we can establish damage to our environment as a consequence of their actions, they could be sued back as harm wrought to Sri Lanka by a private entity.
A fear has been expressed that “There is hardly anything that strong nations do not do to safeguard their interests, financial or otherwise”. If this worry comes accurate, what need to be thought of the men and women that placed this nation in such a precarious position? They will be related to those who facilitated the loss of our independence in 1815. Considering that then, it was safeguards of the financial interests of yet another nation that was paramount, till we achieved independence. Are we fearful that the pattern be could be repeated?
Once this nation was proudly non-aligned. We have been friendly with everyone. We believed in equanimity so a lot that when China was unfairly excluded from the international economic order for their political beliefs, we stepped out of line and presented to barter for our mutual wants. Out of that came the popular Rice-Rubber pact. Can we not act in the defense of our resources, our overall health and properly getting, our capacity for wealth creation, independent of partiality not topic to global political groupings?
In the light of the current state of confusion it would be very very good for the legal profession to test what the law says about ‘Sovereignty’. A judicial definition will facilitate the existing discussion on the Port City.