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Time to put principles into action at UN Human Rights Council

Louise Arbour, President and CEO of the International Crisis Group and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, writes a piece entitled “Tamils await their peace dividend”, for the Globe and Mail.

Extracts have been reproduced below. See the full piece here.

“For Tamils, the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war has brought no peace dividend; for Tamil women, peace has brought with it a continuation – and in some cases an intensification – of violence and insecurity.”

“There is, however, an opportunity to address Sri Lanka’s entrenched culture of denial and impunity – including for crimes against women – at the upcoming session at the UN Human Rights Council. Canada has already played an important role in recent months by reminding the world about the need for accountability and justice in Sri Lanka. Now is the time to put their principles into action in Geneva.

Canada should take a firm stand at the HRC and work closely with the United States, Britain, other members of the European Union and, critically, African and Asian states – especially India – to make sure this marks the beginning and not the end of a real accountability process.

“As the international community seeks, laudably, to recommit itself to the protection of civilians in armed conflict, it needs to reflect seriously on what happened in Sri Lanka: arguably one of its greatest single failures to provide even a modicum of safety to hundreds of thousands innocent victims of war. If the opportunity is again missed to provide some form of accounting, the sustainable peace that all Sri Lankans deserve after so many decades of civil war and political violence will be only further out of reach.”

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