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Indian leaders have committed to supporting the rights of minority Tamils in Sri Lanka to “live with equity, equality, justice, peace and dignity”. In pledges to the United Nations, the Indian government has also vowed to uphold global human rights…
A older man in glasses clapping
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Diplomats at the United Nations Human Rights Council don’t expect someone allegedly associated with a death squad to be among their colleagues. Yet that is the situation confronting officials in Geneva since Sri Lanka’s new permanent…
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Countries Should Look Beyond UN Security Council to Get Aid to Syrians

The UN Security Council’s move last week to confine official, cross-border humanitarian aid to northern Syria to a single crossing on the Turkish border is the final nail in the coffin of the UN’s 6-year-old aid mechanism. It’s also another example of…
Women walk in a neighborhood heavily damaged by airstrikes in Idlib, Syria, March 12, 2020.
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South Africa will soon have a chance to use its UN Security Council seat to show that when it comes to Syria, it is fulfilling Nelson Mandela’s hope that “human rights will be the light that guides our foreign policy.” Sadly, South Africa’s voting…
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When it comes to diplomacy, the government of President Maithripala Sirisena in Sri Lanka likes to portray engagement and interest, in contrast to the surly defiance of the previous Rajapaksa government. It was no different…
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, September 19, 2017.
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There is a reason why autocrats aggressively seek to host mega sporting events. They offer publicity and a veneer of respectability — two things Russia is desperately in the market for. In less than a hundred days, Russia will host the FIFA …
A general view shows Volgograd Arena, the stadium under construction which will host matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, in the city of Volgograd, Russia February 2, 2018.
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As members of the UN Security Council debate this week about whether to renew their Syria chemical weapons investigation, they might want to read Wilfred Owen’s World War One poem “Dulce Et Decorum Est.” It describes an attack in which a man…
A poison hazard danger sign is seen in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib province, Syria on April 5, 2017.
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This week, Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is visiting Australia. Besides growing economic cooperation, apparently 'enhanced cooperation on development and sport' between the two nations is on the agenda. But let’s hope that beyond…
A Tamil woman cries as she holds up an image of her family member who disappeared during the civil war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) at a vigil to commemorate the international day of the disappeared in Colombo August 30, 2013.
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For all his promises — and a Nobel Peace Prize — the Obama presidency delivered more hope than change

As Donald Trump prepares to take office, many fear a new hostility to human rights on the part of the United States. From his divisive rhetoric about minorities to his embrace of autocrats abroad, there is plenty to worry about.  Trump…
U.S. President Barack Obama waves at the conclusion of his final State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in Washington January 12, 2016.
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January 2015 saw a momentous change in Sri Lanka. After nearly 10 years of increasingly authoritarian rule, a new government promising change was voted into office. The new government immediately set about righting many of the wrongs of the previous…
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein meets with Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Colombo on February 9, 2016.
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Letter from Mannar

The causeway that links northern Sri Lanka’s mainland to Mannar Island is lined with vast military barracks. They have a nicely settled air about them, with painted flowerpots out front and T-shirts drying on clotheslines. Between the army camps are…
A family of internally displaced Sri Lankan Tamils wait in Kathankulam village in Mannar, Sri Lanka on October 22, 2009.
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The political negotiations over Syria, now set to continue next month in Geneva, will be tortuous and lengthy at best, while the Syrian government and certain opposition groups continue to commit horrible abuses against innocent civilians. But that doesn’…
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At a hospital in eastern Lebanon, Dr. Qassem al-Zayn, a soft-spoken Syrian  in his fifties, broke into a big smile when he realized that we both spoke Russian. I shouldn’t have been surprised, though. During my trips to opposition-controlled areas in…
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The family of a Gitmo detainee twice cleared for transfer remains pessimistic, despite Obama's speech vowing reform

Muhammad al-Baidhani, an 11-year-old Yemeni boy with a mop of brown curls, only knows his father from photos and a one-hour video conference every two months. Before Muhammad was born, his father was captured and sent to the U.S. military prison at…
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The last time Amina al-Rabeii video conferenced from Yemen with her brother Salman, a detainee at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, she barely recognized the skeletal man on the screen. “His eyes were sunken into dark recesses,” al-…
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Unusual currents have been swirling around the United Nations Security Council’s shameful paralysis on Syria, a product of repeated vetoes by Russia and China. On January 14, a group of 58 governments urged the council to ask the International Criminal…