Govt. to inform UNHRC of intention to work towards closure of contentious resolution

Friday, 21 February 2020 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


  • Cabinet approval given to withdraw from Resolution 30/1 
  • Will take diplomatic initiatives to work with UN agencies in keeping with domestic priorities and polices
  • Will continue to work with UN and its agencies through regular human rights mandates, bodies and mechanisms
  • Appointment of COI headed by Supreme Court Justice mooted to review reports of previous Lankan COIs
  • Accuses previous Govt. of jettisoning homegrown reconciliation process progressing at the time

By Chandani Kirinde

The Government will announce at the upcoming 43rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that it intends to work towards the closure of UNHRC Resolution 40/1 on Promoting Reconciliation, Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka, Minister of Foreign Relations Dinesh Gunawardena told Parliament yesterday.

Cabinet on Wednesday gave approval to withdraw from the resolution, which was co-sponsored by the last Government in 2015, and instead undertake the diplomatic initiatives necessary to work with UN agencies in keeping with domestic priorities and polices, the Minister said.

At the upcoming session of the UNHRC, the Government will announce its decision to withdraw from co-sponsorship Resolution 40/1 of March 2019, which also incorporates and builds on preceding resolutions 30/1 of October 2015 and 34/1 of March 2014, the Minister said.

The Government will however continue to work with the UN and its agencies, including regular human rights mandates, bodies and mechanisms, and seek as required, capacity-building and technical assistance in keeping with domestic properties and polices, he said.

The Minister informed the House that Cabinet approval was given to declare the Government’s commitment to achieving sustainable peace through an inclusive, domestically designed and executed reconciliation and accountability process, including through the appropriate adoption of assisting mechanisms, in line with the Government’s policy framework.

“This will comprise the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) headed by a Justice of the Supreme Court to review the reports of previous Sri Lankan COIs which investigated alleged violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, assess the status of implementation of their recommendations and propose deliverable measures to implement them, keeping in line with the new Government’s policy,” Gunawardena stated.

The Government said it hopes to address other outstanding concerns and introduce institutional reforms where necessary in a manner consistent with Sri Lanka’s obligations, including the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and demonstrate, in good faith, the polices rooted in the Government’s commitment to the people by advocating individual and collective rights and protections under the law, ensuing justice and reconciliation and addressing the concerns of vulnerable sections of society.

Gunawardena said the Government elected in January 2015 had jettisoned the homegrown reconciliation process progressing at the time and, in an unprecedented move at the HRC, co-sponsored Resolution 30/1.

“This was done without the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers, Parliament and the people of Sri Lanka, overruling the reservations expressed by professionals, diplomats, academia, media and the general public.  

“Then-President Maithripala Sirisena also stated that he was not consulted on the matter at the time,” he emphasised.

He said Resolution 30/1 conceded a false narrative of both the circumstances of the 30-year separatist conflict and also the number of casualties.

“During the November 2019 election, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa received an overwhelming mandate to chart a sustainable path for the country, to follow a non-aligned, neutral foreign policy and find homegrown solutions to overcome contemporary challenges. Accordingly, the Government will forge ahead with its agenda as envisaged in the national policy framework ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’, ushering in an era of security and development for the country in the interest of all Sri Lankans,” he declared.


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