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Commonwealth is helping Sri Lanka to make a practical difference - Secretary General

2013 Jun 29

The Commonwealth is identifying the areas where it can help Sri Lanka to advance Commonwealth values instead of criticizing the lack of progress from afar, the Secretary General of the organization, Kamalesh Sharma said.

Responding to an opinion column on Financial Times criticizing the Commonwealth for allowing Sri Lanka to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in November, the Secretary General said the Commonwealth is active in Sri Lanka in advancing Commonwealth values, including human rights, the media, judiciary, and building mutual respect and understanding in communities.

Gideon Rachman in his column " A Sri Lanka summit discredits the Commonwealth" to the Financial Times on June 24 said the sins of the Sri Lankan government are about to be rewarded by the Commonwealth.

"Leaders of the UK, Australia, India, South Africa and other democratic nations should feel sick about accepting the hospitality of a Sri Lankan government with a grim record of human rights abuses," Rachman wrote.

In response Sharma wrote that Sri Lanka still has much to do to implement its post-conflict Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission report.

"This is a homegrown roadmap for achieving a multi-ethnic nation at peace with itself. The question for the international community is whether to criticise lack of progress from afar in implementing that report or to offer and to make a practical difference," he said.

The Secretary General said the Commonwealth has opted for the latter, and the Sri Lankan government even now is identifying the areas where the 54-member organization can help.

"Our Commonwealth soft power and behind the scenes contributions can often be at risk of negative judgment in the short term, but our success is invariably measured positively in the longer term in the form of real progress," Sharma wrote.

"To walk away and not to stay the course would be to the Commonwealth's lasting discredit," he pointed out.

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