Govt. to undertake diplomatic initiatives | Sunday Observer
Withdrawal of Resolution at UNHCR

Govt. to undertake diplomatic initiatives

23 February, 2020

The end of the brutal conflict restored one of the fundamental human rights – the ‘right to life’ for all Sri Lankans, Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena told Parliament on Thursday announcing the decision of the Cabinet to work towards the closure of the UN Human Rights Council resolutions that are ‘inimical’ to Sri Lanka.

Minister Gunawardena said the Cabinet last week unanimously decided to withdraw from the co-sponsorship of the resolutions in ‘cooperation with the members of the UN’.

Thus, Sri Lanka will withdraw from co-sponsorship of Resolution 40/1 of March 2019 on ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’, which incorporates and builds on earlier Resolutions 30/1 of October 2015 and 34/1 of March 2017. However, he asserted that the government will continue to work with the UN and its agencies including regular human rights mandates, bodies and mechanisms. “It will also continue to seek, as needed, capacity building and technical assistance in keeping with domestic priorities and policies,” the Minister stressed.

He pointed out that the process of ending the 30-year bloody war against terrorism ensured the restoration of civilian life and the country’s return to normalcy, while citizens in the Northern Province used their franchise after a lapse of 25 years, in 2013 strengthening democracy.

In his speech in Parliament, Minister Gunewardena pointed out that Resolution 30/1 conceded a false narrative of both the circumstances of the 30-year separatist conflict and also the number of causalities.

“This was done despite an abundance of evidence to the contrary contained in domestic reports such as the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into complaints of abductions and disappearances (Paranagama Commission) and those produced in the UK Parliament by Lord Naseby, reports of other States, the UN and other international agencies, including the ICRC, and exposed diplomatic cables,” he said.

“It undermined national interest, compromised national security including weakening national intelligence operations and related safeguards, which may be deemed to have contributed to the lapses that resulted in the Easter Sunday attacks, the Minister said, adding that it also placed Sri Lanka under a host of international obligations which could not be delivered on due to Constitutional and institutional limitations.

The government elected in January 2015 jettisoned the home-grown reconciliation process progressing at the time, and in an unprecedented move in the Human Rights Council, and in contravention of Sri Lanka’s foreign policy stance on country specific resolutions, co-sponsored the UNHRC resolution 30/1 on the situation in the country. This was done without the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers, Parliament and the people, overruling the reservations expressed by professional diplomats, academia, media and the public.

The then President Maithripala Sirisena also stated that he was not consulted on the matter at that time. The Minister said considering all these aspects, the Government decided to announce Sri Lanka’s decision to the UN member states at the upcoming 43rd session of the Human Rights Council and to undertake diplomatic initiatives to realise this strategy.