US Aid to Sri Lanka 2012: More to promote human rights/good governance than for economic development
The projected United States assistance for the Fiscal Year 2012 to Sri Lanka is excessively dominated by the allocations to promote peace and security, democracy, human rights and good governance. Approximately thirty percent goes for economic development, but a clear majority of that to the private sector to improve laws and administrative practices to help create economic opportunities to poverty-stricken sector of the society.
The FY 2012 Congressional Budget Justification for Sri Lanka highlighted and prioritized in the following manner:
“Sri Lanka continues to recover from nearly three decades of conflict. Although the country’s 26-year-long civil war ended in 2009, expected peace dividends have been slow to follow. People in the conflict-affected areas of the north and east continue to struggle to meet their basic human security needs. The minority-dominated north and east and the Sinhalese in neighboring provinces remain poor and marginalized, and lack access to services. In FY 2012, U.S. assistance will focus on facilitating reconciliation and development in these underserved regions that incorporate all communities. Nationally, U.S. assistance will modernize the legal system, build counterterrorism capacity, contribute to demining efforts, strengthen border control, and develop future military leaders with training and exposure to human rights issues in Sri Lanka. In the north and east, the U.S. Government will focus on promoting human rights and land tenure for returnees, strengthening democratic institutions through citizen participation, and developing local economies.”
Using this justification, the US Congress for FY 2012 allocated US$22.2 million for Sri Lanka out of which $9.2 million goes to Peace and Security, $8.4 toward Economic Development, and $4.6 to promote Democracy, Human Rights and Good Governance.
Of the $9.2 million allocated to peace and security, $7.5 million has been appropriated toward supporting Sri Lanka government and civilian partners’ participation in ongoing humanitarian and peace support operations; support security sector reforms through training under the International Military Education & Training Program (IMET) in which human rights as a core area.
Another $1.3 million has been allocated toward conflict mitigation and reconciliation under which to promote peaceful resolution of differences or establish a framework for peace and reconciliation. This American allocation will be used to identify the causes of conflict and state failure in Sri Lanka; develop long lasting solutions to the problems that derive conflicts.
Under Democracy, Human Rights and Governance the US Congress has allocated $4.6 million out of which $2.6 million will be used by the American foreign assistance program to promote and uphold rule of law and human rights. Under this program the emphasis will be on accountability to laws consistent with international human rights laws. This amount was appropriated by the U.S. government in the FY 2012 for Sri Lanka in the belief that “human rights derive from the inherent dignity of the individual and are to be enjoyed by all without distinction to race, color, sex, language, religion, national or social origin. Fundamental freedom of expression/association and peaceful assembly are core values.”
US $1 million each has been allocated toward upholding good governance and promotion of activity in the civil society. The United States through this allocation will support avenues for meaningful public participation and oversight, as well as substantive separation of powers through institutional checks and balances.
The US in the FY 2012 foreign assistance program will encourage civil society organizations/advocacy groups to freely organize, advocate, and communicate with the Sri Lanka government and with each other; respect for human rights, good governance and strengthen democratic institutions and processes.
The US Congress has allocated $8.4 million for economic development in Sri Lanka.
About $6.0 million has been for Private Sector Competitiveness to improve policies, laws, regulations and administrative practices affecting private sectors’ ability to compete nationally and internationally. $1.5 million has been allocated toward support efforts aimed at helping poverty-stricken segments of the Sri Lanka society to create economic opportunity by growth.
For the food production, marketing, distribution and trade, the US allocation is $0.9 million.
These US budget appropriations for FY 2012 toward Sri Lanka have been mainly targeted toward human rights, rule of law, governance, freedom of association and speech over economic development. Since the defeat of the Tamil Tigers in May 2009, the US State Department has maintained severe pressure on Sri Lanka on issues of accountability, openness, rule of law, human rights, governance and reconciliation.
- Asian Tribune -