Lanka to seek a vote on resolution

Wednesday, 20 March 2013 01:52 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  •  Final text welcomes announcement of NPC polls in September
  • Pillay’s report to be taken up in Geneva today
  • GL calls for support from HRC member states
  • Final draft resolution co-sponsored by 32 countries
  • Dilutes language on Government’s failure on political devolution

By Dharisha Bastians

Sri Lanka will seek a vote on the US-backed resolution when it is taken up at the 22nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva tomorrow, the Daily FT learns.

External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris told Foreign Ministers of UNHRC member states that the Government of Sri Lanka rejects the new resolution that is co-sponsored by 32 countries, just as it did with last year’s US-backed resolution.

“Sri Lanka intends to request a vote when the draft resolution is taken up at the Human Rights Council on 21 March 2013. Sri Lanka seeks the understanding and the support of HRC member states at the vote on this resolution,” the Minister said in letters to Foreign Ministers.

According to Minister Peiris, introducing a resolution that seeks to discredit, single out and humiliate the country is unhelpful and counterproductive to Sri Lanka’s current reconciliation process.

“Moreover, the precedent created by intrusive, biased and politicised actions such as the US-sponsored resolution on Sri Lanka would pose a danger for all nations,” the Minister wrote to UNHRC member states.

Sri Lanka faces two crucial days in Geneva, when 47 member states of the UN Human Rights Council will deliberate on a damning report by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Colombo’s Human Rights situation today and a US-backed resolution calling for progress on investigating alleged human rights abuses and reconciliation issues tomorrow.

The final draft resolution, co-sponsored by 32 countries including the US and HRC non-member states, was tabled at the Council at 6 p.m. Geneva time on Monday. Austria, Canada, Croatia, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, St Kitts and Nevis, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America co-sponsored the resolution.

The final text welcomes the announcement of Northern Provincial Council elections in Sri Lanka by September 2013 and acknowledges the Government’s progress on resettlement, demining and infrastructure building post-war, but notes that much work lies ahead.

The resolution no longer ‘notes with concern the failure’ of the Government to fulfil its public commitments including on political devolution. Instead, the new draft calls upon the Government to fulfil its commitments in this regard.

Furthermore, the most recent draft no longer calls for ‘unfettered’ access for UN rapporteurs. It merely calls on the Government of Sri Lanka to cooperate with special procedures mandate holders and to respond formally to their outstanding requests, including by extending invitations and providing access.

The final text also notes High Commissioner Pillay’s call for an international inquiry into alleged violations of humanitarian law in the final phase of the conflict in Sri Lanka. The resolution also calls on the Government to conduct an independent and credible investigation into allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

High Commissioner Pillay’s report, which was a blazing critique on Sri Lankan Government inaction and highlights ongoing human rights abuses in the country, will be taken up at the Council today.