Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Numbers being counted in Geneva too

So while domestic politics completely consumes Australia - its politicians, its media, voters - I'm having a morning swim in a peaceful lagoon at the hotel in Colombo.  I have a chat to a Croatian American working for World Vision and she recommends a few destinations.  Yesterday I ran into a UN representative in Colombo - me dripping wet in bathers and she with her daughter inspecting rooms for a wedding.  Couldn't really engage in the type of conversation I would have liked.  At least the watering hole is, as always, a good meeting place.

I know there is precious little interest in today's media for anything outside the number 51 and who will get there first.  But I do wish the navel gazing could rest-up for long enough to check out the significant decisions and votes going on elsewhere.

In Geneva today or tomorrow, the UNHCR will vote on the US led resolution regarding monitoring of Sri Lanka's domestic investigations in allegations of war crimes.  The resolution is sponsored by the US, the UK, Canada, Italy, Germany - amongst others.  Not Australia.  Sri Lanka is working on its numbers too:  Among other nations, those who praised the Sri Lanka’s efforts towards achieving national reconciliation were, Thailand, Venezuela, Cuba, Belarus, Myanmar and Vietna http://www.dailymirror.lk/news/26970--developing-nations-expressed-their-confidence.html

Talk here has it that India has demanded it be watered down further than the already diluted version.  Not clear.  It does not amount to an International investigation and it does not amount to self-determination for the Northern (Tamil) Province (to which I am headed tonight).  But unless a small step is taken, nothing is going to happen to act on concerns about the way the war ended in 2009.
Christine Milne as spoken out about it for the Greens: http://greensmps.org.au/content/media-releases/greens-call-australia-end-its-silence-sri-lankas-atrocities
"It is distressing that while the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Bishop Desmond Tutu, the first female President of Ireland Mary Robinson and United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay can see that President Rajapakse must be held accountable, Australia is doing everything it can to accommodate the Sri Lankan regime."
"The Greens support an independent international investigation and Australia should be working to strengthen the draft US-led resolution currently before the UN Human Rights Council, which is extremely weak and does not back calls for an international independent investigation into war crimes committed during the final stages of the war." Senator Christine Milne said.

You can see a summary of the events and an alternative perspective here: http://www.dailymirror.lk/opinion/172-opinion/26924-multilateral-legitimacy-for-unilateral-intervention-.html
If there is the political will, Sri Lanka could unite with its natural allies and partners on the basis of common interests, solidarity and genuine cooperation, as has been demonstrated by a country like Cuba, which, despite being subject to a criminal blockade for more than half a century, has succeeded in isolating the United States of America within the UN General Assembly.

The UN resolution won't solve all the problems, but the garnering of international support to take action seems to be directly connected to the way in which Tamil asylum seekers are treated in Australia.  Call it a long shot - I reckon the odds are shorter than those for either Rudd or Gillard.

Sri Lanka is working on its numbers too:
Among other nations, those who praised the Sri Lanka’s efforts towards achieving national reconciliation were, Thailand, Venezuela, Cuba, Belarus, Myanmar and Vietna
http://www.dailymirror.lk/news/26970--developing-nations-expressed-their-confidence.html

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