Arbitrary Interpretation and a Resolution
Posted on April 3rd, 2014

Palitha Mapatuna

 According to the newspapers, a resolution had been passed in March, 2014 in Geneva to request the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) to undertake an investigation into a domestic matter of Sri Lanka.  Accordingly, questions had arisen whether an investigation into an internal matter of a sovereign state would be beyond the powers (ultra-vires) of OHCHR.  However, the present incumbent of this office seems to have taken upon herself to ‘interpret’ the mandate in her favour.   

 As far as I am aware, the conduct of investigations is a function of a body specifically appointed for the purpose (such as police force of a country). Thus, any investigation into domestic affairs of a member state would require a specific mandate from the United Nations General Assembly, which established the OHCHR. 

 Therefore, if the availability of such a mandate is legitimately disputed (as it seems to be) or if the mandate is vague or contains inconsistencies, there is no option but to seek clarification from the giver of the mandate: the General Assembly. The resolution of the problem cannot be left to ‘interpretation’ according to the whims and fancies of the incumbent for the time being, and whose mandate itself is in question. 

 In the circumstances, the only proper procedure seems to be that a clarification is sought from the General Assembly itself, thereby preventing possible accusations of mala-fide intentions behind this ‘interpretation’.

 If this procedure is ignored, it seems to constitute a usurpation of the powers of the General Assembly, signifying grave potential dangers to member states.  They need to be awake to this! 

 Accordingly, a ‘resolution’, based on an arbitrary interpretation, appears to be devoid of any value.

2 Responses to “Arbitrary Interpretation and a Resolution”

  1. S de Silva Says:

    Quite right!. But in the meanwhile it would be a good idea the GoSL took a decision in Parliament NOT to implement any part of the UNHRC decision based on bias against Sri Lanka – That is the ONLY credible and robust way to deal with this situation as the “DEMOCRATIC will of the people of Sri Lanka” – S de Silva -London

  2. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Some issues that stand against the OHCHR and its attempts to arbitrarily undertake an investigation into a domestic matter of Sri Lanka:
    `Colombo will not allow them to enter the country and dismiss this as an intrusion into a sovereign nation. The OHCHR has to date failed to do any similar acts on Cuba, Israel, the US, UK, and many other Middle Eastern to African nations simply because the nation will not allow that to happen
    -Even if they manage to win such a motion that would send a signal to every other nation that the OHCHR has extraordinary powers to selectively investigate targeted nations.
    -Specifically regarding Sri Lanka this would be a slap to India that the OHCHR will take on such steps without consulting New Delhi who has explicitly refused such an intrusion (for her own sake)

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