As we mark the 73rd anniversary of our independence, the two extracts from an exchange in New York before the United Nations exemplifies the situation Sri Lanka finds itself in. Whilst the Permanent Representative Peiris quite brazenly equates the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), victims groups and human rights organizations as tools of “vanquished terrorists” in front of the General Assembly, the Secretary General of the United Nations gives him a primer in contemporary international relations, pointing out that if the Sri Lankan people and government take reconciliation and accountability seriously, the interest of others doing so in respect of Sri Lanka, will be reduced. We surely belong to the international community and belonging does not mean that we have the liberty or the license to cherry pick our commitments and responsibilities. States have moved; we are in the twenty-first century; they are no longer stuck in the Westphalian world of 1648!
Geneva is upon us as is Independence Day. The High Commissioner has issued her strongest and most hard hitting report yet, encouraging states to consider action under universal jurisdiction, targeted travel bans and freezing of assets of individuals credibly accused of grave violations as well as action in the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The High Commissioner also points to the treatment of Muslims highlighted by the odious burial/cremation controversy, the steady militarization of governance and government, the damage wrought by the 20th Amendment and with reference to the Presidential Commission on Political Victimization, the compromising of the integrity of the judiciary.