UN Human Rights Council, real issues and Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera
Two wrongs do not make a right – That is what one has to conclude regarding the resolution co-sponsored by Sri Lanka in 2015 at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
In the meantime, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera addressed the High-Level Segment of the 34th Session of the UN Human Rights Council Geneva, 28 February 2017
In 2015 Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera who co-sponsored the resolution regarding Sri Lanka at the Human Rights Council, said to be a wrong move for Sri Lanka.
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera while addressing the High-Level Segment of the 34th Session of the UN Human Rights Council said “I speak today, just over a year, or 15 months since Sri Lanka took the historic step of co-sponsoring Resolution 30/1. Many in our country criticized and continue to criticize us for this step. Some even see this as an act of treachery and betrayal of the nation.”
In his address, Foreign Minister presented details of action taken to promote human right activities and reconciliation but failed to explained the stand taken by the Sri Lankan President regarding the hybrid court and the foreign judges and foreign prosecutors. He simply ignored it …
On 1 October 2015, the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva passed a resolution on Sri Lanka titled, ‘Promoting Reconciliation, Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka.’ The resolution was co-sponsored by Sri Lanka and passed unanimously which was in contrast to the four previous resolutions of the UN HRC on Sri Lanka since 2009.
The Government of Sri Lanka co-sponsored the Geneva Resolution a few days after the UN HRC proposed the setting up of hybrid court to inquire into war crimes allegations.
The resolution called upon Sri Lanka to establish a credible judicial process, with the participation of Commonwealth and other foreign judges, defence lawyers and authorized prosecutors and investigators, to go into the alleged rights abuses.
The judicial mechanism "should include independent judicial and prosecutorial institutions led by individuals known for their integrity and impartiality," according to the resolution.
In the meantime after the adoption of the resolution co-sponsored by Sri Lanka, President Maithripala Srisena said, “As long as I am the President of this country, I will not allow for any international courts, international judges and international organizations to interfere with the internal affairs of Sri Lanka and the judiciary.” .
Sirisena also added that he will not allow any national or international activity to take place which will prove to be a danger to the country’s integrity and independence.
Subsequently, addressing a press conference Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera termed Sirisena’s resolute against allowing international participation as a ‘personal opinion.’
There are different views on whether we should have cosponsored the resolution in its present form, as it, inter alia, draws on the High Commissioner's report and on the Report on the Investigation on Sri Lanka which in turn draws on a range of sources, including the discredited Darusman Report. Some have vehemently criticized the government's decision to cosponsor the resolution.
It is a misconception to suggest that the UN HRC is tightening its grip on Sri Lanka. The HRC was never intended to have a grip on any country.
The resolution cosponsored by Sri Lanka has no binding, but there might be a moral trepidation as it has been also co-sponsored by Sri Lanka.
In fact, the UN HRC has no powers of enforcement. Its resolutions carry a moral weight, particularly if the target country has cosponsored a resolution. But there is no mechanism for enforcing them. The UN HRC was intended to assist countries to improve their human rights performance not to act as a global human rights enforcer.
Many countries, against which resolutions were adopted by the UN HRC, simply ignore them mainly because of their selective nature. We can be talked in to or talk ourselves into having the resolution enforced against us. In this context it is intriguing that the former UN Secretary-General is reported to have given an assurance that he would ensure the implementation of the Resolution knowing very well that he has no powers of enforcement.
The resolution in Geneva was placed on the table for negotiation and Sri Lanka accepted everything in the original draft.
Sri Lanka’s friends in the third world countries was flabbergasted that the country has caved in so easily.
The main point to remember is that the resolutions of the UN Human Rights Council were not binding.
However they carry moral weight but in the case of Sri Lanka which unfortunately voluntarily co-sponsored including its unacceptable provisions foreign judges, foreign prosecutors which was in the adopted resolution.
Resolutions adopted in the UN HRC had been ignored with disdain by countries such as Iran, Belarus, North Korea, Israel, etc.
If the goal of co-sponsoring the resolution was to gain economic benefits from Western Countries, but that was unlikely happen. We caved in. We could not get any benefits and world especially the West is in difficult economic circumstances.
The countries that were helping us like Russia, China were totally disturbed by our embarrassing surrender by our foreign minister.
The current move to get extra time instead of using the opportunity present by the election of Donald Trump in the USA and Theresa May in UK is totally misplaced and a sad assessment of the global political trends.
- Asian Tribune -