April 24, 2018        Reading Time: 3 minutes

Your weekly digest of foreign policy commentary*

Reading Time: 3 min read

Eckardt et al explain Vietnam’s ascent as a manufacturing hub in Asia. Image credit – phong.tran / deposit photo



Transitional Justice in Sri Lanka: From Denial to Delay, The Diplomat, by Yashasvi Nain, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative

“[Sri Lanka] must use the remaining period effectively and by 2019 implement the pledges made in the past.”

  • Yashasvi Nain argues that Sri Lanka must hasten the implementation of United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council Resolution 30/1 to maintain the country’s commitment to accountability and other global norms – both domestically and internationally.
  • To expedite the establishment of transitional justice mechanisms, Sri Lanka could publish draft legislation on a commission for truth, justice, reconciliation and non-recurrence, as well as an office for reparations.
  • Sri Lanka could also explicitly criminalise enforced disappearances under its penal code, to demonstrate it is willing and able to address impunity for human rights violations.

LKI Take: The lack of progress on Resolution 30/1 strengthens the argument for a specialised mechanism in Sri Lanka, with international support, to deal with serious crimes. The absence of such a mechanism may lead to calls for other UN member states to exercise universal jurisdiction.



Vietnam’s Manufacturing Miracle: Lessons for Developing Countries, Brookings Institution, by Sebastian Eckardt, Deepak Mishra, and Viet Tuan Dinh, World Bank Group

“Vietnam managed to capitalize on its strong foundations through good policies.”

  • The authors argue that Vietnam did not simply rely on foundational factors like a fortunate geographical location close to major global supply chains, but built its success via sound policies to become a productive Asian hub.
  • These policies include trade liberalisation through free trade agreements, investing in better education and training of its youthful population, relentlessly improving ease of doing business indices, and improving its infrastructure for power and connectivity (including its ports).
  • Vietnam remains focused on addressing remaining challenges to its manufacturing-led growth, including inadequate links between foreign direct investment and domestic firms.

LKI Take: In 2017, Vietnam introduced five new reforms; related to electricity, credit, taxes, trading, and enforcing contracts. Sri Lanka needs to quicken the pace of improving its business environment to leverage its foundational factors and be competitive with regional economies.



Better Democracy Promotion Through ImmigrationLawfare, by Margaret E. Peters, and Michael K. Kelly, UCLA and George Washington University

“[W]hen greater numbers of citizens from an autocratic home country migrate to democracies, the likelihood that the home country will democratize within the next five years goes up sevenfold.”

  • The authors argue that greater migration from authoritarian regimes to democratic nations can help to spread democratic norms back to those regimes, more effectively and cheaply than by developmental aid or ‘regime change.’
  • Migrants who experience norms like a free press and free elections are likely to disseminate such ideas in their home countries.
  • Increasing regular migration to consolidated democracies, as envisioned by the new Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration, would help democratise and stabilise new democracies in the Middle East and Africa.

LKI Take: Currently, a majority of Sri Lanka’s departures for foreign employment are to non-democratic states. Sri Lanka should continue to work to increase employment opportunities for its migrant workers in countries like South Korea, which could also indirectly strengthen awareness and support for democratic norms in Sri Lanka.

*Written by Malinda Meegoda, and edited by Anishka De Zylva. The opinions expressed in these Weekly Insights are the authors’ own and not the institutional views of LKI, and do not necessarily reflect the position of any other institution or individual with which the authors are affiliated.

Please note that there will be no Weekly Insights next week due to the international labour day holiday. We will be back on 8 May with the latest interesting commentary on international relations.

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