Webinar on Counter Terrorism Measures and IHL

The BIDTI in collaboration with the ICRC delegation in Sri Lanka conducted a webinar on ‘Counter Terrorism Measures and International Humanitarian Law’ on 8th April 2021. This is the third webinar of the series conducted on the contemporary challenges to International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

The objective of the Webinar series is to create a platform for the state actor to deliberate on the challenges in implementing IHL. The panellists consisted of former Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN and former Legal Advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr. Rohan Perera PC, former Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of
Sri Lanka and Chair Professor of Law in University of Peradeniya Professor Deepika Udagama as well as Brigadier Keerthi Kottawaththa Director, Directorate of Human Rights in IHL in Sri Lanka Army and Legal Advisor of ICRC Headquarters in Geneva Kelissiana Thynne.

his webinar in particular, featured the challenges to IHL by counter terrorism measures conducted in the context of armed conflict. Professor Udagma set the scene for the discussion by explaining the concurrent application of IHL to counter terrorism operations. Whilst Kelissiana Thynne addressed the concerns identified by the ICRC with regard to application of IHL to Counter- Terrorism measures in armed conflicts. Dr. Rohan Perera, who has written extensively on international terrorism gave an insight to disscussions of the sixth committee terms of application of IHL to Counter Terrorism measures. Lastly, Brigadier Kottawaththa shed light as to how the Sri Lanka Armed Forces integrate humanitarian considerations in Counter Terrorism operations in armed conflicts from an operational perspective.

The webinar was moderated by Legal Advisor to ICRC Delegation in Sri Lanka Samindika Elkaduwe.

Tracing socio-cultural roots of the Portuguese influence in Sri Lanka

Portuguese in sri lanka

“Cultural impressions made by the Portuguese, have not been erased by the Dutch or the British” explained Dr. Shihan De Silva Jayasuriya in a Special Guest Lecture on “The Portuguese impact on the socio-culture of Sri Lanka” on 6th February 2019 at the BIDTI.

“The intangible Portuguese heritage has been remarkably durable” thus having a significant influence in Asian language, religion, architecture, cuisine, music and dance. However, “the most vibrant Portuguese influence” is on Sri Lankan popular music- chorus Baila. Music, which was a significant element in Portuguese culture, was used as an interface for harmonious communication. In fact, Dr. De Silva argued that music was a factor in bridging the cultural gap between Sri Lankans and the Portuguese.

Another form of Portuguese Socio-cultural influence is portrayed in the lexicon of Sinhala, Tamil and Sri Lankan Malay. Taking into account the asymmetric power relationship between the Portuguese colonisers and the Sri Lankans, “an inevitable emulation enhanced cross cultural flow and linguistic transmission.”

Furthermore, the Portuguese influence within Sri Lankan society is even more prominent in Portuguese Burgher communities and Afro- Lankan communities within the Island. These communities have preserved cultural attributes such as Creole known as “Sri Lankan Portuguese”.These communities, often marginalized, are unable to showcase their cultural traits hence remain unknown to the public. It is also concerning, that such cultural characteristics if not appreciated and preserved may be lost with time. As future generations seek to connect with those outside their own community.