Com­mon­wealth co­nun­drum

Southasia - - BRIEFINGS -

Sri Lanka fi­nally suc­ceeded in hold­ing the Com­mon­wealth Heads of Gov­ern­ment Meet­ing in Colombo. But the sum­mit was dom­i­nated by a bit­ter dis­pute over al­leged war crimes. Sri Lanka de­nies al­le­ga­tions that war crimes were com­mit­ted by its mil­i­tary dur­ing the fi­nal stages of the con­flict against the Tamil rebels in 2009. But the coun­try was forced by in­ter­na­tional lead­ers, es­pe­cially U.K. Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron, to ad­dress the al­le­ga­tions by next March. " Let me be very clear; if an in­ves­ti­ga­tion is not com­pleted by March, then I will use our po­si­tion on the United Na­tions (UN) Hu­man Rights Coun­cil to work with the UN Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion and call for an in­de­pen­dent in­ter­na­tional in­quiry," David Cameron said. Sri Lankan Pres­i­dent Mahinda Ra­japaksa brushed aside the warn­ing. "Do not dic­tate to me. I am not ready to take or­ders from oth­ers, as we have a tra­di­tion and cul­ture and a good le­gal sys­tem with a law en­force­ment process to ad­dress any is­sue," he said at a news con­fer­ence.

While only 27 heads of gov­ern­ment at­tended this year’s meet­ing, Malaysian Prime Min­is­ter Na­jib Razak said the sum­mit had helped strengthen the or­ga­ni­za­tion of mainly English­s­peak­ing for­mer Bri­tish colonies. In the fi­nal com­mu­niqué, coun­tries agreed to push world bod­ies to adopt a Com­mon­wealth re­port on new ways for small and vul­ner­a­ble coun­tries to ac­cess funds to fight cli­mate change. It also sug­gested that small coun­tries with high debts, in­clud­ing some in the Caribbean, use cli­mate change funds that wealth­ier na­tions have al­ready pledged for pay­ing off of na­tional debt. Smaller coun­tries, in re­turn, pledge to use their own funds to tackle ris­ing sea lev­els and other cli­mate con­cerns over a longer time frame.

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