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Sri Lanka gets two-year extension in first draft of UNHRC resolution

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By Dharisha Bastians in Geneva 

Sri Lanka has obtained a two year extension to tackle post-war reconciliation and allegations of war crimes, according to a first draft of the UN resolution that is likely be adopted at the Human Rights Council at its 34th Session currently underway in Geneva. 

According to the “zero draft” of the resolution in circulation late yesterday, Sri Lanka’s next major report on progress made on implementing the 2015 resolution by the High Commissioner for Human Rights will be at the Council’s 40th Session in March 2019. 

The draft resolution also calls for a written report from the High Commissioner at the 37th Session of the Council in March 2018. 

The draft resolution requests the Government of Sri Lanka to “fully implement” measures that are outstanding from the 2015 UN resolution on reconciliation and accountability. 

UNHRC Resolution 30/1 of October 2015 recommended the establishment of truth-seeking and reparations mechanisms and a special court to prosecute grave crimes committed during the final years of the conflict. It also called for broad legal and security sector reform to improve the country’s human rights situation. 

The zero draft of the Sri Lanka resolution, seen by Daily FT, is a 1.5 page document, containing a preamble welcoming several steps taken by the Government to implement recommendations in the 2015 resolution. The 2017 draft resolution “recognises the need for further significant progress” on implementing the last UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka. 

The zero draft of the resolution ‘takes note with appreciation’ of the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Sri Lanka that was released yesterday and also urges the Government to continue its engagement with the UN for the promotion of human rights in the country. 

The first informal discussion on the draft resolution on Sri Lanka will be held on Tuesday, 7 March at the Palais des Nations. During the informal session, a public meeting held at the UN, co-sponsors, member states of the Human Rights Council, INGOs and the Sri Lankan delegation in Geneva will have an opportunity to weigh in on the language of the draft resolution, and push for amendments to the text.

The Government has confirmed it would co-sponsor the new resolution, which will be led by the US and the UK. The draft resolution must be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council by the co-sponsors by 16 March. The Sri Lanka resolution is expected to be adopted by consensus at the end of the Council’s 34th Session on 23 March.

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