Posted on December 8th, 2015

Sarath Wijesinghe – former Ambassador to UAE and Israel

Human Rights Council

Human rights Council which is an intergovernmental body consist of 47 Nations is housed in Geneva   as a part of the UN system. It is a constituent body to monitor and inquire into the human rights situations in the UN member countries based on the UN Charter. It has limited advisory and monitoring powers limited to recommendations and take further steps purely on the approval and the consent of the respective member Nation. Victims of human rights look upon this body as a forum and a stronghold for action. Human Rights Council is a subsidiary body of the politically appointed politically and based United Nations.  Appointments are on various criteria and factors including international politics, geography economic affiliations with economic and political powers and many other factors. As it is a semi political body decisions are not taken on human rights issues alone on some sections of members as much as the United Nations which is an International Political world body. Most of the decisions taken are political may be as a punishment or a deferent to align compel/align with the group in power. High Commissioner of Human Rights is the Chief Executive and the leader of the inefficient and ineffective institution answerable and expected to report to the main body on the human right situations of the member countries which faces controversies all the time. Member countries are voluntarily seeking the membership of the UNHCER which is optional. USA is a reluctant member initially declined to joined and   while currently taking an active role on monitoring the situations of the either member nations. Being a main contributor to the UN funds USA has direct and indirect control over the management and appointments to the world body which has a questionable conduct, though the existence of a world body is a necessity to the world economic, political order and peace which was constituted in place of the League of Nations after the world war. Secretary General of the United Nations though appointed by the main body is appointed indirectly by the USA and the western powers.  In the recent past USA and Israel has not attended important deliberations of the Human Rights Council with a look worm attitude on the functions, but active in monitoring human right situation in the weaker members of the world family. Down fall of the Middle East – iron fist countries were mainly due to the activism on monitoring human right situations which has changed the course of regime change, in which Sri Lanka have been the latest victim. Regime change process has destabilized and shatters many Afro, Asian and Middle Eastern countries the latest prey of ISIS with the West.

Matters within the Domestic Jurisdiction

Article 2(7) of the U N Charter is clear that the general body is prevented from intervening in matters within the domestic jurisdiction of member states except on enforcement measures under Chapter V11. It is based on sovereign equality of all nations expecting equal treatment to all member nations. Do they really enjoy equal rights and privileges are questionable issues.  Currently the Human Rights Council is targeting identified countries such as Burma, Guiana, North Korea, Syria, Irene, Kyrgyzstan, and few other countries with allegations of violation of human rights, though in reality there are many violators worldwide unnoticed and unchecked for various political reasons. Article 2(7) is developing on a different interpretation that human rights are universal encouraging external and UN intervention on human right violations in domestic jurisdictions. Now the situation is changing for member nations to be more vigilant and interested on alleged human rights violations in the world which is taking place unnoticed to the world. Definition of Human Rights and violations are complicated and demands interpretations due to the complex nature of the current events and the conduct of the world powers and political and economically strong international institutions calming to be guardians of human rights. This is an ongoing argument which is changing with the political changes of the complex world. Many powerful countries and international organizations are demanding to intervene and interfere in the domestic jurisdictions on human right issues.

Who are the human rights violators?

Who are the real human violator are yet to be found by the international community led by the western powers claiming to be leaders, guardians an defenders of human rights. World news daily says USA and UK killed 3.2 million Iraqis and 750000 Children which is still not disputed. USA and UK invaded Iraq in search of nuclear arms, fully backed by the United Nations system and though no nuclear weapons were found the death toll in the cradle of our civilization is over 3.3 million and the country is now in shatters and pieces due ISIS which is a byproduct of Iraqi war threatening the entire world including the West responsible for the time bomb which is to be ignited sooner or later. USA and UK are responsible for the killings of millions in Iraqi, Afghanistan, Pakistan and many African countries. Human Rights Commission appear to have justified the atrocities in these countries in the name of human rights and peaceful co-existence in the current world order for pace and stability. Haaretz writes of a resolution against Israel, who are unconcerned on resolution for obvious reasons. It is an exemplary fearless nation conversant with the International Law and the reality of the new world order. Killings in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraqi, and other middle east Asian and African countries have either ignored or gone unnoticed. Violators are punished through the UN system or political and economic embargos of the rich and powerful countries or groups claimed to be the international community. It is a pity that the human rights violations are shielded and continued by those responsible for violations. Israel is underrated in defending their nation created with great struggle amidst the oil rich enemies right round, fearlessly challenging the UN system. Hundreds of resolutions have not changed Israel or Israelis defending the nation tooth and nail. It is a pity Sri Lanka has co-sponsored the Resolution against her own nation conceding the number of reports prepared by NGOs and NGOsm against Sri Lanka. West dominated world community is reluctant to criticize Middle East on mode of punishment to death by stoning, led by wealthy Saudi Arabia due to oil and in investments in the West. Stoning to death in public in the Middle East is not criticized by the west and the victim countries such as Sri Lanka who has co-sponsored the human right resolution against her own country. Sri Lankan attitude is questionable in cases of stoning to death of her nationals on offences which are less trivial in the other parts of the world. Sri Lankan Ambassador has made a controversial statement urging to respect the laws of the host country condoning death by stoning.

In the light of the UK, USA and Israel situation the resolution on Sri Lanka by Sri Lanka and Western allies is a matter that some commenters consider as’’ Harsa Kiriri” mode self-destruction with short and long term implications. It is unusual and the first time ever a nation co-sponsors a resolution against her own destruction, by agreeing on committees and commissions appointed and determinations based on internet, here say and groups and individuals on Sri Lankan activists living abroad as refugees as a powerful group of respective countries in large number with a sizeable number of decision making expatriate voters. Why Sri Lanka fell into the trap is a mystery and unfortunate. She could have just kept allowing the western powers to go through the resolution to reduce and minimize the impact and the responsibility on her.

Resolution against Sri Lanka with co-sponsors, Sri Lanka, USA UK and other Western countries

A consensus resolution was adopted at the 30th sessions with a long preamble and an operating clauses requiring Sri Lanka to implement and report back to the sessions in 2016, with the developments on the implementation. UNHCER with supervisory powers will be physically present with staff and foreign lawyers to offer technical and other support in the implementation process of the recommendations with the time frame until 2016.Sri Lanka continually objected resolutions on Sri Lanka with her friends who were disappointed with the new position taken by Sri Lanka in co-sponsoring the resolution on her which has short and long effects and implications. Resolution appear to have drafted by the expatriate diaspora reflecting long term demands cleverly incorporated in the resolution.

Preamble of the resolution has detailed the long history and the recent developments while the operative part deals with the domestic accountability with international involvement, and supervision, with Hybrid Courts, consisting of foreign judges. It provides for the implementation of the previous resolutions, offering technical support. Political settlement with constitutional amendments, devolution of political authority, full reconciliatory process with full enjoyment of human rights, are requirements with access to progress before the oral update in 2016. The proposals when implemented will change the overall fabric of the entire political structure in the country with constitutional changes which is hard to change, as the Constitution adopted in 1978 is still in force. All these are matters exclusively within the domestic jurisdiction when Sri Lanka helplessly watching it implemented due to co-sponsoring the resolution against Sri Lanka.

Changes envisaged has spread length and breadth of the entire legal and political system in all the areas including the Provincial Council System, which is an ineffective white elephant. It requires the Provincial System initiated by the Indo Sri Lanka accord with tough resistance by the public , to operate effectively, preserve human rights records, ratify international convents, protect all persons from enforced disappearances, revise the Public Security Act, revise PTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act), attacks on journalist, Lands to be distributed among the displaced, introduce victim prevented law, Security sector reforms, improve domestic law and implication of LLRC and recommendations of the commissions appointed by the UN and affiliated institutions, justice and reparations to the affected are the main recommendations of the unusual and unique resolution adopted Sri Lanka as a co-sponsor. Resolution recommends drastic constitutional changes and changes of the fabric of the System of Government and governance in per with long term demands of the diaspora population who were living in exile claiming asylum in the respective countries. Article 2(7) stands helpless and ineffective with the co-sponsored resolution by Sri Lanka and USA.

Is the resolution Effective Powerful and Beneficial to Sri Lanka?

Generally, such resolutions are non-binding and the implement on is voluntary unless taken up by the apex bodies of the UN system such as the Security Council or the General Body, on direct and indirect execution of the resolutions. Resolution is not a treaty and implementation is indirect. But the fact that Sri Lanka is a co-sponsor has completely changed the outlook and the effect of the resolution in – a unique way on this unusual and unique resolution which is binding on Sri Lanka with the time frame imposed in the resolution with the deadline of 2016 oral reporting. As a result, the UN and the powerful member nations has the moral rights for forceful and indirect implementation of the requirement of the resolution which dilutes Article 2(7) of the Charter on sovereignty over domestic jurisdiction. Non implementation of the self-imposed resolutions will give disastrous effects and Sri Lanka is bound to implement the contents of the resolutions to the last word. Benefits will be reaped with the goodwill and the change of attitude of the west. But the Statement by the EU Ambassador that there is going to be long wait for the reactivation of GSP Sri Lanka is eagerly waiting for has disappointed Sri Lanka and have given rise to loss of hopes after such a grave sacrifice of the nation with binding and rigorous implications and undertakings.

Premature Effects of the Resolution

It appears that the resolution is effective and in force with the target of 2016 reporting back. Constitutional changes are taking place giving more powers to the provinces based on the 13th amendment, and Prevention of Terrorism Act is being removed, when the terrorism raising the ugly head in France and the Middle East with the emergence of ISIS threatening the western world with the powerful members spread worldwide. Unseen enemy is spreading as cancer when Sri Lanka appears to lose the grip based on the promises and the directions of the resolution agreed upon by the main co-sponsor – Sri Lanka. UN has entered Sri Lankan Naval base for inspection against the accepted norms and principles. Steps will be taken to appoint foreign and Commonwealth judges and formulating of Hybridge courts and Judges.

Advantages to Sri Lanka on the co-sponsored resolution

Arguments of the Sri Lankan government on the co-sponsored resolution is that the changes with bring about economic benefits such as re activation of GSP, and goodwill of a substantial part of the European Community and USA, when the traditional friends of Sri Lanka such as USSR, China Latin America and some Afro/Asian countries always backed Sri Lanka economically and politically. Is worth the price paid for the goodwill will be decided from how Sri Lanka will be treated and looked after by new found friends. So far no commitments on Economic Political or any other form of assistance except offers of technical advice on human rights mechanism. Sri Lanka can be proud of an advanced legal system and the leading Nation in the South Asia economical and politically with highest per capita and educated and developed workforce and intellectuals. Many USA UK and west politicians have come and gone with no promises of any small or large scale benefit. They have their own issues and problems and living in fear of ISIS in their soil with economic hardships. They too depend on China for assistance and investments. Putin has become the most powerful leader in the world and come out of the economic hardships. China is developing fast in all the areas entering into the large scale of Aero plan manufacturing industry once the monopoly of the west.

Where are we and way forward

Sri Lankan appear to be helpless and at a loss with the loss of traditional friends in the world family now taken the backseat in the international arena on the Sri Lankan issue. How can we get out of the mess is a complicated issue. Once fallen to the well has to come out from the same way and it is hard but it is the duty of the Sri Lankan polite and the intellectuals to deal with the new found friends by implementing the contents of the resolution with reduced strength in a diluted form. In the event the ugly head of terrorism emerges due to the relaxations and changes on security, there is a possibility to reemerge the situation that has gone through three decades. Will the proposed reconciliatory measures be a solution to a future terror attacks are a matter to be patently looked into. Is the newly elected government incapable and unable to have a control on the peace, economy and the political culture is a matter the common man is patently observing with interest. Prices of Coconut, Tea Rubber Paddy has drastically gone down with the  rupee and no new ventures investments of developments appear to be forthcoming, with infighting among the Ministers giving different versions on main issues with the main leaders giving different versions and interpretations on economy, foreign policy, and strategy washing dirty linen in public by opposing  main political parties groups together as against the main enemy the former President who regaining his popularity among the common man. Talk of the town in nothing is happening and nothing is moving whereas the previous regime have been active and aggressive on development. Previous President’s immense popularity and the inefficiency of the good governance has disappointed the masses and it is time for the government to rethink of a new strategy to avoid mass uprisings. Students, workers, peasant’s uprisings are emerging in various forms with attacks on the security forces and the government servants. This should be avoided and curtailed in the interest of the Nation as constitutionally the government will go through the full term even with a lame system of governance. Has the former President mismanaged the foreign policy and foreign relations in terms of the Geneva Debacle are issues raised by another group supportive to the current governance and the merits and demerits are to be left for the masses and the international brotherhood to ascertain. It is a good idea for the opposition to give time and space for the incumbent government to go through the process for which a mandate has been given by the masses.

It is our country and it is time to be magnanimous and consider the betterment of the country and the people going through hardships. Constitutionally the government will carry on the full term at any cost with no vision strategy and non-corporation from everybody alike. It is time for the polite on the top to gain the support and cooperation of all without allegations counter allegations as the main strategy with of hard work and a vision as promised before elections. Government must declare that it is incapable of implement unenforceable promises pledged before elections and come forward with a program with the real opposition in the voyage of success and prosperity of the Nation. It appears that Sri Lanka lacks a proper foreign Policy while many leaders giving their own independent views without speaking with one word to the world on international issues. World and the people will tolerate mismanagement of foreign policy for some time, but not always. Reconciliation should start from the political apex on politics, economy without accusations against each other. Still there appear to be no foreign policy for the new governance supposed to be good governance expected to be efficient. It must be remembered that every political party and politician is responsible for our downfall and determined to activate reforms with a new vision spirit of friendship and cooperation is required without differences based on cast race creed religion or any other differences. This realization should come from the top in the government and the opposition for us to get over from the Geneva Debacle we are immersed in.

Sarath wijesinghe [email protected]


  1. Lorenzo Says:

    There are no economic benefits of the SUICIDAL co-sponsoring of the Geneva resolution.

    The human rights council itself is a joke. SAUDI which is the WORST HR violator in the world is a member!!

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