Canada has announced its decision to withhold funding to the Commonwealth Secretariat, pointing to the Secretariat’s silence on alleged war crimes and rights abuse in Sri Lanka, which currently chairs the international association.

“As host of the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and current Chair in Office, Sri Lanka has a duty to take meaningful action on human rights, political reconciliation and accountability. However, Sri Lanka has failed to realise progress on any of these issues,” Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has said.

Canada believes that if the Commonwealth is to remain relevant it must stand in defence of the basic principles of freedom, democracy and respect for human dignity, which are the very foundations upon which the Commonwealth was built, Mr. Baird said in a press statement issued by Canada’s Foreign Ministry recently.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma expressed disappointment at this step taken by Canada to suspend contributions to the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation. According to local media reports, Mr. Sharma said the difficult adjustments to Commonwealth development programmes would be made, and expressed confidence that important priorities agreed on by Commonwealth member states collectively can still be delivered, with results and impact for the benefit of the people of the Commonwealth in accordance with the current strategic plan.

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