Monday, 3 March 2014 01:50
Draft resolution on Lanka in circulation this week
Ban Ki, Pillay to address opening session in Geneva today
Samantha Power, Hugo Swire to address UNHRC high level session
GL to address Council on Wednesday
By Dharisha Bastians
The international spotlight falls on Sri Lanka’s human rights record for the third time in as many years when the UN Human Rights Council’s 25th Session opens at the Palais des Nations in Geneva today.
“The Government is ready to face any challenge,” Presidential Spokesman Mohan Samaranayake said yesterday, as Sri Lankan diplomats and Ministers prepare to take the stage to try to mitigate the effects of a US backed resolution that is likely to call for an international inquiry into war crimes during the last days of the war.
The first draft of the resolution, sponsored by Washington and backed by Britain and the EU, is likely to be in circulation this week, diplomatic sources said. The initial draft is expected to expressly call for an international inquiry, although it is unclear what form of inquiry the final resolution will seek to establish.
UN High Commissioner Navi Pillay, whose blistering 74 point report on Sri Lanka that calls on the Council to set up an international mechanism to address accountability is already in the public domain, will address the opening session of the 25th Session, which kicks off at 1:30 p.m local time.
Her address to the Council will follow a message from UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.
US Ambassador to the UN in New York and Member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet, Samantha Power will address the Council’s High Level segment. The powerful US diplomat will be followed by UK Minister of State at the Foreign Office, Hugo Swire. Power is expected to reference Sri Lanka in her remarks, after US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke extensively on Sri Lanka and only three other states – North Korea, Syria and Venezuela – when he launched the State Department’s annual Human Rights reports last Thursday, signalling that Colombo is high on Washington’s list of human rights priorities. Britain has also pledged to push for a international war crimes inquiry against Sri Lanka if the country fails to meet a March deadline issued by Prime Minister David Cameron last November.
External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris who will arrive in Geneva from Myanmar where he is attending the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sector Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) along with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, will address the Council on Wednesday (5). He will also hold talks with High Commissioner Pillay while in Geneva. Presidential Special Envoy Mahinda Samarasinghe will also travel to Geneva later this week. Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha will head the Sri Lankan delegation at the opening sessions of the UNHRC today.
Mahinda off to Myanmar for BIMSTEC
President Mahinda Rajapaksa travels to Myanmar today to attend the Bay of Bengal Multi Sector Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) summit, where the leader of seven Asian states are set to cross paths.
President Rajapaksa is expected to meet with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the meeting. External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris is already in Myanmar for the summit and will fly to Geneva to address the 25th Session of the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday (5).
The BIMSTEC leaders are expected to address issues for greater integration and cooperation in the Bay of Bengal region.