"'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less'. 'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things'. 'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master - that's all'." Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carrol - Through the Looking Glass, quoted in What is Terrorism
The politics of the ban continues to unfold. Michael Schubert's remarks 'On Liberation Movements And The Rights Of Peoples' in 1992 bear repetition here -
"In order for... states to quickly and effectively wipe out "revolt", which could get out of hand despite technical superiority (read: better weapons) due to the political and moral convictions of the mass movement, it is necessary to make comprehensive analyses early on and to take effective action in the psychological arena....The central aim of this defence approach is to destroy the morale of the insurgent movement at the early stages, to discredit it and destroy it using repressive means ... thereby preventing a mass movement from starting which could be hard to control with conventional means. Defaming the insurgents as "terrorists" and punishing them accordingly - thereby ignoring international law concerning the rights of people in war - is a particularly useful means."
It is no accident, for instance, that Sri Lanka and states who are concerned to secure the status quo of territorial boundaries imposed by the old colonial rulers, have chosen to designate the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam as a "terrorist" organisation and to deny to the Tamil resistance movement the legitimacy that international law may accord.
"....An armed resistance movement takes shape in the womb of oppression. Its seeds are to be found in the eternal quest for equality and freedom. But, though born of natural parents it is at birth illegitimate - because it breaches the existing legal frame, and seeks to supplant it. And that simple fact has much to do with its subsequent development and growth. An armed resistance movement acquires legitimacy and becomes 'lawful' through its growth and success - not simply because the ends it seeks to achieve are just... The metamorphosis from 'unlawful' to 'lawful' is gradual (and many layered) and is related not only to the justice of the ends it seeks to achieve and the justice of the means it employs but also to the extent to which a guerrilla movement is able to secure and maintain permanent control of territory. It is not a case of one or the other, but a case of all three..." - Nadesan Satyendra in Tamil Armed Resistance and the Law
"The most problematic issue relating to terrorism and armed conflict is distinguishing terrorists from lawful combatants, both in terms of combatants in legitimate struggles for self-determination and those involved in civil wars or non-international armed conflicts. In the former category, States that do not recognize a claim to self-determination will claim that those using force against the State's military forces are necessarily terrorists. In the latter, States will also claim that those fighting against the State are terrorists, and that rather than a civil war, there is a situation of terrorism and counter-terrorism activity"....The controversy over the exact meaning, content, extent and beneficiaries of, as well as the means and methods utilized to enforce the right to self-determination has been the major obstacle to the development of both a comprehensive definition of terrorism and a comprehensive treaty on terrorism. The ideological splits and differing approaches preventing any broad consensus during the period of decolonization still persist in today's international relations..." Terrorism and Human Rights Final Report of United Nations Special Rapporteur, Kalliopi K. Koufa, 25 June 2004
If truth be told, the designation of the LTTE as a terrorist organisation has little to do with the means adopted by the LTTE and everything to do with its end goal of freedom for the people of Tamil Eelam - freedom from alien Sinhala rule within the confines a single state.
Given the uneasy balance of power in the Indian Ocean region, it is this end goal of an independent Tamil Eelam which, at the present time, albeit for different reasons, both India and US find inimical to their strategic interests. But as the resolution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, USA in 18 June 1981, suggests this was not always the case - and therefore may not always be the case in the future.
"Resolved, that the Massachusetts House of Representatives hereby urges the President and the Congress of the United States to support the Struggle for Freedom by the Tamil Nation for the Restoration and Reconstitution of the separate sovereign state of Tamil Eelam and to recognise publicly the right of self determination by the Tamil people of Tamil Eelam" House of Representatives Resolution, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, USA, 18 June 1981
States, after all, have permanent interests but they do not have permanent friends.
Be that as it may, the politics of the ban usually takes a predictable course. First you threaten to ban unless the organisation falls in line with your perceived strategic interests. Then you ban, to show that you are serious about that which you said. But you do not implement the ban so that you may continue to engage with the banned organisation and its supporters. Then you start implementing the ban but in a calibrated fashion and negotiate to secure 'appropriate' responses from the banned organisation on a piece meal basis. You may then go on to suggest that the ban may be removed if the banned organisation plays 'ball' and drops its political goal.
"...Western governments policies on Sri Lanka should consciously include attempts to open up political space within their Tamil communities for non-Tiger political voices. Those governments with significant Tamil populations should engage representative civil society groups directly, expressing sympathy for the legitimate grievances of minorities in Sri Lanka... Peace supporters should consider setting a deadline for renunciation of a separate state, after which they would actively pursue prosecutions of current LTTE leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity.... Countries should develop step-by-step benchmarks for progress towards revoking the terrorist designation in part to encourage Prabhakaran's removal..." Report of 20 February 2008 by The International Crisis Group co-chaired by Lord Patten of Barnes, Former UK Cabinet Minister and by Ambassador Thomas R Pickering, Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN; and with Gareth Evans, Former Foreign Minister of Australia as President.
To advance your own strategic interests, you may even encourage a banned organisation to appeal for a review of the ban so that sufficient political space is created within which you may continue to engage with the banned organisation and/or its supporters. And, ofcourse, ambiguity is not without its constructive uses. This is all the more so if your own strategic interests are not the same as those of either of the parties to the conflict in which you seek to intervene - and if you want to exert pressure on both parties to fall in line and accept your hegemony. 'Come into my parlour said the spider to the fly'. However, one would imagine that after several decades of painful experience, the fly may have also worked out ways of negotiating spider webs.