First of all, I would like to correct a factual error in the June 8 editorial, “What price victory?” The U.N. high commissioner for human rights is in fact a woman and not a man. I do hope that this was just a typo, but the fact that the U.N. high commissioner (UNHCR) was addressed as “Mr.” and then as “he” does not give me much confidence.
Second, while it is all well and good to suggest that war crimes investigations be carried out wherever there is or has been a brutal conflict, where the parties have been accused of violating humanitarian law, we cannot pick and choose which conflicts “deserve” to be investigated. By all accounts the death toll in the Iraq conflict has been horrendous; some estimate this to be over a million. Has The Japan Times or anyone else for that matter raised the prospect of conducting an “independent” war crimes investigation into this conflict? Would anyone dare?
The fact is that Sri Lanka, being a small country with little international clout, is easy to pick on and made an example of. This, however, sets a dangerous trend where the powerful countries get away with gross violations of humanitarian law simply because no one has the courage to call them to account. One of the primary reasons that Sri Lanka won the vote at the recent UNHRC sessions was probably this kind of blatant double standard, which is resented by most smaller countries.
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