SL among countries pushing for transparency in UN Human Rights body
Posted on February 21st, 2012

By Shamindra Ferdinando in Geneva -Courtesy The Island 

SriLanka will continue to campaign against the use of Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to undermine UN member states.

Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Tamara Kunanayakam, is expected to raise the issue at the 19th sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council scheduled to begin on Feb. 27. Sessions are scheduled to continue till March 23.

Amb. Kunanayakam, who was previously in charge of Sri Lanka’s mission in Havana, will emphasize the need to address the issue urgently.

Asked whether Sri Lanka was confident of having support of member states of the 47-nation UN HRC, a senior official said that there were many like-minded countries, which opposed manipulation of OHCHR for political reasons. Due to OHCHR being dependent primarily on US and European funding as well as staffing, it had become a key part of Western strategy directed at those countries not towing their line, the official said.

The OHCHR issue comes up in Geneva again, in the wake of UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand making an abortive bid at the Commonwealth Heads of Government of Meeting (CHOGM 2011) in Perth, Australia, last October to establish Office for Commissioner for Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law on the lines of OHCHR.

At the 18th sessions, last September, Amb. Kunanayakam launched an unprecedented attack on OHCHR. Associating with a statement made by Pakistan on behalf of co-sponsors of a Resolution titled “ƒ”¹…”Transparency in Funding and Staffing of the OHCHR’ Amb. Kunanayakam, while emphasizing the importance of transparency in the OHCHR process, including equitable geographic representation in the staffing and a clear need for an equitable appropriation of funds available to the Commissioner and the need for accountability of such appropriation to that Council.

The Sri Lanka’s Geneva mission quoted Amb. Kunanayakam as having told the 18th sessions: “Any procedure that falls short of these ideals is wholly inappropriate. It is only timely that we would urge this Council to take serious note of whatever shortcomings that detracts from achieving these ideals and put in motion a process that would address these issues in a meaningful and responsible manner so as to achieve the ideals of equitable and efficient distribution of funds and symmetrical mobilization of human resources. This process can only begin if the Office of the High Commissioner permits access to information in a spirit of candour. It is sincerely hoped that this resolution too should not be regarded by some as procedural trivia. May we respectfully observe, that this kind of critique, is symptomatic of the re-emergence of the ghost of the trend that might is right, a trend that must be discouraged at all costs.”

2 Responses to “SL among countries pushing for transparency in UN Human Rights body”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    Well said Tamara.

    Wow! I’m highly impressed by Ms. Kunanayakam. May God bless her and give her the courage to stand up against powerful evil satanic forces at the UNHRC.

    If UNHRC has nothing to hide, why can’t they be transparent with their FUNDS and STAFF as it belongs to the world community not just a few countries.

    Navi Pillai will have diariah thinking of all the corruption and favouritism she is part of.

    We blame diplomats for not doing enough. This is an exception.

  2. S de Silva Says:

    Thank you Ambassador Ms Kunanayakam, you are indeed the exception. As the Ambassador says, the UNHCR should be representative of the nations it is representing and NOT a mouthpiece of the US & EU. Please bring up this critique of yours at the next meeting and continue to do so – to ensure the makeup of the UNHCR is eventually more balanced and the funding more equitably shared – easy for me to say though! – S de Silva – London

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