Letter from IMF Managing Director to Human Rights Watch

November 5, 2009

Mr. Brad Adams
Executive Director, Asia Division
Human Rights Watch
250, Fifth Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10118-3299

Dear Mr. Adams:

Thank you for your letter dated October 14, 2009 in which you outlined your concerns about the situation in Sri Lanka and the support that the IMF is providing to the economy of this country. The IMF shares your concerns about the humanitarian situation and before addressing a number of detailed issues, I would first like to provide a broader consideration about the general context.

The Sri Lankan economy is facing a serious crisis and regardless of one’s opinion of the human rights situation in that country, the collapse of the economy cannot be considered a reasonable outcome. The people of Sri Lanka—and especially those who are most vulnerable—cannot be held responsible for the current situation. Our role now—as set out in the Articles of Agreement which govern the IMF—is to do everything possible to prevent a collapse, the effects of which would be catastrophic for the people, and especially for the poorest parts of the population.

Like you, I share the distress of the refugees. The image of those suffering children and of those families set adrift is to me intolerable. The fact is, however, that the economic crisis would only worsen their situation.

The aim of our support, therefore, is to provide the resources necessary to prevent a full-blown economic crisis, contribute to reconstruction efforts, and sustain social spending aimed at protecting the poor. In addition, this program also provides the necessary framework without which international donors would be unable to provide assistance in the areas of infrastructure, roads, hospitals, and schools.

This in no way prevents us from putting in place the safeguards needed to ensure that the resources we provide are used correctly. The government has therefore committed to creating a social safety net for the displaced as quickly as possible. The program includes a considerable reduction in military spending in the 2010-2011 period, and these savings will be used to finance expenditure that will help the country’s most vulnerable people. The government has begun redeploying resources previously allocated to military spending toward reconstruction efforts in the north, such as de-mining, basic infrastructure, and other activities essential for the reintegration of the Tamil people. These commitments are spelt out in the initial letter of intent signed by the government.

Following our in-depth discussions, the authorities have reiterated in their most recent letter of intent their commitment to make rapid progress in addressing the grave humanitarian problems, the situation of displaced persons who must be able to return home, and the reconstruction of basic infrastructure. The IMF will continue to monitor progress in these areas and we look forward to continuing to receive feedback from HRW as well as others.

Sincerely yours,



Dominique Strauss-Kahn
Managing Director



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