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Sri Lanka on the difficult road to reconciliation

By Julie Bishop - posted Thursday, 18 October 2012


Former US president Harry S. Truman once observed that "Experience has shown how deeply the seeds of war are planted by economic rivalry and social injustice".

Few things in life give rise to greater feelings of indignation than when we believe we have been victims of an injustice.

In a country like Australia, perceived injustices can be experienced many times throughout our lives but we ignore most situations as being too minor to warrant attempts at redress.

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Where there are genuine grievances we have avenues of recourse including the justice system where we can have our day in court.

While there are shortcomings in Australia's judicial process, as it is not perfect, there is a general respect for our legal system.

Most people understand the concept of the rule of law and recognise that all are deemed equal before the law.

This is not the case in many countries throughout the world where corruption and abuse of power are commonplace.

There can also be institutionalised bias against groups of people within countries, based on ethnic and religious divides.

President Truman understood that when whole sections of society are marginalised economically, or suffer ongoing injustice there is the potential for upheaval and conflict as those with a grievance rise up against those in power.

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He was US President from 1945 to 1953 and there is little doubt that his views played a major role in the Marshall Plan that underpinned reconstruction of Europe, including Germany, after the ravages of World War II.

This visionary plan resulted in former bitter enemy Germany becoming an economic powerhouse and playing a major role in European unity and stability.

Few people would have predicted the role that Germany has played in Europe since 1945 in the wake of the destruction unleashed by its armed forces on the entire continent and beyond.

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About the Author

Julie Bishop is the Federal Member for Curtin, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs.

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