Sri Lanka is but a side show at UNHRC

The world does not care

| by Pearl Thevanayagam

(March 04, 2012, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) Since UNHRC (United Nations Human Rights Council) began its sittings last month, it is only Denmark and UK which made reference to Sri Lanka. The sessions mostly focussed on Syria and understandably so. Jeremy Browne, state minister of FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) explicitly stated that Sri Lanka should follow up on the LLRC recommendations with a definite time frame.
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Denmark said, “Accountability for past violations must remain high on the Council’s agenda. Impunity for human rights violations is an unsolvable debt, which, if unaddressed, is transmitted through generations. No country, no society can afford this. This is true in the case of Sri Lanka where accountability is an essential part of reconciliation. We believe that the Human Rights Council should encourage the authorities to fully implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, and to engage with the UN on the report of the UN Secretary General’s Panel of Experts”.
Most others concentrated on their own countries and narrowed their focuses to their own continents. South Africa chose a neutral stand in that it welcomed Sri Lanka’s local investigating mechanism in investigating the government’s conduct in the last stages of the war but did not prevaricate on accountability for war crimes. Several others in Africa are riddled with their own domestic issues such as AIDS, female genital mutilation, poverty et al that Sri Lanka is far from their agenda.
It is only expected that East European nations could not be bothered with international issues when their own doorstep is reeling from decades of Russian supremacy and finding its feet in gaining independence and the ramifications of seceding from Russian dominance.
So what could Sri Lanka expect from the UNHRC. US and India are sitting on the fence and dangling carrots while both the Tamil parties and the government are hoping they are taking their sides respectively. Neither have the interest of Sri Lanka at heart and let us face this.
US and India will use anything and any country to hold their own in the Indian Ocean and thwart China from its increasing dominance in Asia. China does not care two hoots for human rights and India will use human rights as its trump card and shed crocodile tears while eying Sri Lanka for its trade interests. In toto, all three countries want to be the dominant force in the Indian Ocean and towards this they will sacrifice human rights and to hell with war crimes.
Increasingly UN and the EU are gathering force and US in the future may no longer have its say in international matters. US is becoming Britain’s equivalent to its relegated status as having once ruled the world. Commonwealth is but an honorary outfit not worth its title in the age of countries gaining independence from colonialism. Australia is not even a member of the UNHRC.
The Arab world on the other hand is gathering momentum and its oil dictates world economy. US tried its divisive policies in the Middle East but the latter used US technology and manpower to bolster its own dominance in the world the mass revolts notwithstanding. It basically told the US, “ Yes, you can send in your forces and pump in your resources but we will decide on how far you can intervene. Ultimately it is us, the Islamic nations who would have the last word.”
Getting back to Sri Lanka the world is not exactly spending every waking moment thinking of the war crimes committed here three years ago. It is only the current sessions of the UNHRC which brought Sri Lanka a semblance of recognition and it will soon fade away. Or for that matter India is not bothered about its small island neighbour since it has states far bigger than the island which need immediate attention.
In short Sri Lanka is not a priority in the new world order and whether it is governed by Sinhala Buddhist nationalists or its minority suffer under them is not exactly anybody’s concern. There are far more catastrophes in the world such as famine, flood and other natural disasters.
Agitations and local demonstrations have to take a back seat for now.
 (The writer is Asia Pacific Journalism Fellow at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, California and a print journalist for 21 years. She can be reached at


Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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