Sri Lanka warns UNHRC and calls for rejection of resolution

Sri Lanka today called on the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to reject a resolution against Sri Lanka which is to be tabled at the ongoing session.

The Government also warned that insistence on such ever-expanding externally driven prescriptions notwithstanding Sri Lanka’s continuous cooperation and engagement with the Council can pose numerous challenges.

Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena told the Council during the 46th Session today that the Government which assumed office in Sri Lanka in 2015, in a manner unprecedented in human rights fora, joined as co-sponsors of Resolution 30/1 which was against Sri Lanka.

“It carried a host of commitments that were not deliverable and were not in conformity with the Constitution of Sri Lanka. This led to the compromising of national security to a point of reviving terrorist acts on Easter Sunday 2019 causing the deaths of hundreds,” he said.

He said the rejection of the resolution by the people of Sri Lanka was clearly manifested in the mandate received by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in November 2019. 

“Based on this mandate I announced at the 43rd session of this Council that Sri Lanka would withdraw from co-sponsorship of the resolution. I also stated that Sri Lanka would remain engaged with the UN system including this Council,” the Foreign Minister said.

He said that Sri Lanka had provided detailed updates to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in December 2020 as well as in January 2021 on the progress of implementation of commitments that Sri Lanka had undertaken such as continuity of the existing mechanisms, appointment of a special commission of inquiry headed by a Supreme Court Judge, achieving the SDGs, progress made in returning lands, demining and creating new avenues of livelihoods.

“These steps have been taken even as Sri Lanka was battling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic for the past one year. In spite of these challenges we held a free and fair general election in August 2020 and elected a new Government with a two-thirds majority in one of Asia’s oldest Parliamentary democracies,” he said.

The Minister said that it is regrettable that despite the spirit of cooperation with the HRC and its mechanisms, elements working against Sri Lanka intend to table another country-specific resolution based on the OHCHR Report on Sri Lanka.

“This rejected report by Sri Lanka has unjustifiably broadened its scope and mandate further, incorporating many issues of governance and matters that are essentially domestic in any self-respecting, sovereign country,” he said.

The Foreign Minister called on the members and observers of the Council to make their own judgment on whether Sri Lanka represents a situation that warrants the urgent attention of the Council, or if the campaign is essentially a political move that contravenes the very values and principles on which this Council has been established.

“Particularly at a time when legislation is enacted by some countries to protect their soldiers from prosecution in military operations carried out overseas, only points to duplicity and the hypocritical nature of their motives. This cannot but result in a significant loss of morale among countries engaged in the struggle against terrorism,” he said.

Dinesh Gunawardena said the Council must hold the scales even, not going by hearsay, unilateral action or one angled doubtful sources and adhere to its guiding principles.

The Minister said that Sri Lanka believes that the extent to which the resources and time of the Council has been utilized on Sri Lanka is unwarranted, and carries a discouraging message to the sovereign states of the global South. (Colombo Gazette)