1st UNHRC Resolution on Sri Lanka after defeat of LTTE in May 2009
Posted on January 15th, 2020

There are some important clauses in the May 2009 Resolution passed which are noteworthy in the context of all the successive resolutions on Sri Lanka & behoves the new Government to return to it & quote from it.

A/HRC/S-11/2 was the Resolution passed at the 11th Special Session on 27th May 2009 less than 10 days after Sri Lanka ended a 3 decade terrorist conflict militarily.

Title of Resolution:

S-11/1 Assistance to Sri Lanka in the promotion and protection of human rights

Vice-President and Rapporteur: 

Mr. Elchin Amirbayov (Azerbaijan)

How can a Special Session be held?

When a member of the Council with support of 1/3 of the membership of the Council requests (paragraph 10 of GA Resolution 60/251 & Rule 6 of HRC Procedure)

Who requested a Special Session?

Germany in a letter dated 19 May 2009 to the President of UNHRC (A/HRC/S-11/1)

(the very day Sri Lanka declared end of LTTE)

Who supported this request by Germany? 17 members of UNHRC

Argentina, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Mauritius, Mexico, Netherlands, South Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ukraine, UK, & Uruguay.

Who else supported the request by Germany & 16 other countries? 20 Observer States

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Sweden.

Questions for Germany & all others who wrote to UNHRC on 19th May 2009 seeking a special session on the very day LTTE was eliminated – Where you when LTTE were killing innocent babies, children, men, women, public servants, politicians, world leaders?

A/HRC/S-II/2 GUIDED BY:

  • UN Charter
  • UN Declaration of Human Rights
  • International Covenants on Human Rights
  • Other relevant human rights instruments

A/HRC/S-II/2 BEARS IN MIND:

General Assembly Resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006

https://undocs.org/en/A/RES/60/251 to be reviewed in 2011

A/HRC/S-II/2 REAFFIRMS:

  • Purpose & principles of UN in Articles 1 & 2 of UN Charter
  • Principle of Non-Interference in matters of domestic jurisdiction of States
  • Commitment to promoting international cooperation as set out in Charter

    (Article 1)

A/HRC/S-II/2 RECALLS:

  • Council Resolutions 5/1 and 5/2 – forming HR Council
  • Duty & Responsibility of states to provide protection & humanitarian assistance to all without discrimination
  • HRC decision 2/112 & Resolutions 6/28, 7/7 and 10/15
  • General Assembly Resolutions

57/219 https://undocs.org/en/A/RES/57/219 ,

58/187 https://undocs.org/en/A/RES/58/187  

59/191 https://undocs.org/en/A/RES/59/191 ,

60/158 https://undocs.org/en/A/RES/60/158 ,

61/171 https://undocs.org/en/A/RES/61/171&Lang=E ,

62/159 https://undocs.org/en/A/RES/62/159   

63/185 https://undocs.org/en/A/RES/63/185

welcoming UN member states to protect HR, fundamental freedoms & obligation of states to respect Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law while countering terrorism

 A/HRC/S-II/2 WELCOMES:

  • Conclusion of hostilities
  • Liberation by the GOSL of tens of thousands of its citizens that were kept by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam against their will as hostages
  • The efforts by the GoSL to ensure safety & security of all Sri Lankans
  • To bring permanent peace to the country.
  • Recent reassurance by President of Sri Lanka that he does not regard a military solution as a final solution
  • His commitment to a political solution with implementation of 13th amendment to bring lasting peace & reconciliation in Sri Lanka.
  • Successful rehabilitation of reintegration of former child soldiers after conflict ended in Eastern Province of Sri Lanka

 Note: The insertion of 13a brought about much debate in Sri Lanka and the insertion that it was the commitment of the President in power (which does not necessarily mean it is a policy of another government needs to be reiterated)

A/HRC/S-II/2 CONDEMNS:

  • All attacks that LTTE launched on civilian population & its practice of using civilians as human shields.

A/HRC/S-II/2 ACKNOWLEDGES:

  • Continued engagement of the GOSL in regularly & transparently briefing & updating the Council on human rights situation on the ground & measures taken

 A/HRC/S-II/2 RECOGNIZES:

  • Promotion & protection of human rights should be based on principle of cooperation & genuine dialogue to strengthen capacity of Member States to comply their human rights obligations for benefit of all human beings.

A/HRC/S-II/2 EMPHASIZES:

  • After conclusion of hostilities, priority remains human rights to ensure relief & rehabilitation including IDPs as well as reconstruction of the country’s economy & infrastructure.         

A/HRC/S-II/2 ENCOURAGED:

  • Provision of basic humanitarian assistance – safe drinking water, sanitation, food & medical & health care services to IDPs by GoSL with assistance of UN Agencies.
  • By announcement of GoSL to resettle bulk of IDPs within 6 months.

Thus A/HRC/S-11/L.2

  1. COMMENDED measures taken by GOSL to address urgent needs of IDPs
  2. WELCOMED continued commitment of SL to promote & protect HR and uphold human rights obligations & norms of IHRL
  3. ENCOURAGED GoSL to continue its existing cooperation with relevant UN organizations to provide – basic humanitarian assistance, safe drinking water, sanitation, food & medical & health care services to IDPs
  4.  WELCOMED proposal to safely resettle bulk of IDPs within 6months
  5.  ACKNOWLEDGED commitment of GOSL to provide access as appropriate to international humanitarian agencies for humanitarian assistance to IDPs
  6.  ENCOURAGED GoSL to continue to persevere efforts towards disarmament, demobilizaton & rehabilitation of former child soldiers, their physical and psychological recovery & reintegration into society through educational measures in cooperation with relevant UN organizations
  7.  URGED GoSL to ensure no discrimination against ethnic minorities in human rights
  8.  WELCOMED continued cooperation between GoSL relevant UN agencies & humanitarian organizations in providing humanitarian assistance
  9.  ALSO WELCOMED recent visits to Sri Lanka by Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs & Representative of the Secretary General on human rights of IDPs
  10. FURTHER WELCOMES visit to Sri Lanka of the UNSG and endorsed joint communique at the conclusion of visit
  11. WELCOMED resolve of Sri Lankan authorities to begin a broader dialogue with all parties to enhance process of political settlement & bring lasting peace & development in Sri Lanka based on consensus.
  12. URGED international community to cooperate with GoSL in reconstruction efforts – increasing provision of financial assistance including official development assistance to help country fight poverty & underdevelopment

Thus the UNHRC President decided to convene a special session (11th) on 26 & 27th May 2009.

Cuba made a statement on behalf of Non-Aligned Movement.

On 27th May 2009, Sri Lanka presented a draft Resolution A/HRC/S-11/L.1 sponsored by Sri Lanka and co-sponsored by Bahrain, Bolivia, China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia

(11 countries)

Algeria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bhutan, Brazil, Cambodia, Cote d’Ivoire, South Korea, Iran, Laos, Lebanon, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Singapore, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, UAE, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam joined co-sponsors

(25 countries)

Representatives of Germany on behalf of EU with Bosnia & Herzegovina, Canada, Mauritius, Switzerland & Ukraine introduced amendments to draft resolution.

Sri Lanka must appreciate Cuba for invoking Rule 117 of the rules of procedure of General Assembly to close debate on amendments proposed by Germany which was objected by Mexico and Switzerland

The motion by Cuba went for a vote and 22 voted in favour – 17 against & 7 abstained.

         In favour:                     Angola, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Burkina Faso, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa;

         Against:                        Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mauritius, Mexico, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay;

         Abstaining:                  Azerbaijan, Brazil, Gabon, Nigeria, Senegal, Ukraine, Zambia.

Eventually A/HRC/S-11/L.2 presented by Sri Lanka went for a vote and 29 voted in favour of Sri Lanka, 12 voted against and 6 abstained.

         In favour:                      Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Madagascar, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Uruguay, Zambia;

         Against:                        Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland;

         Abstaining:                  Argentina, Gabon, Japan, Mauritius, Republic of Korea, Ukraine.

http://www.lankamission.org/human-rights-humanitarian-affairs/675-a-bridge-between-sri-lanka-and-the-world-a-bridge-between-sri-lanka-s-past-and-its-future-2.html Statement by Sri Lanka’s Representative to Geneva (excerpts from it)

What then is behind this call for a Special Session? It doesn’t require decoding Mr President, Excellencies. It is very clear from the proceedings that started yesterday. From high officials who should be above the fray, making statements which presume guilt on the part of Sri Lanka, and which could lend itself to misperceptions of bias of one sort or the other, to Special Rapporteurs who clearly exceeded the code of conduct, to a handful of countries which kept on mentioning war crimes, war crimes and war crimes, over and over again, presuming guilt just one week after a thirty year war was over. Mr President, these are the same people who told the world that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, so I wouldn’t buy a used car from these people, let alone allegations of war crimes. We tried but the people who are criticising us today, Mr President, didn’t even bother to sit down and have a cup of coffee with the other countries in our region and ask them what they thought of the Sri Lanka situation and the call for a Special Session. So much for inclusivity, which is supposed to animate the behaviour of us all in the Human Rights Council”

If in 2009 UNHRC reaffirmed its respect for Sri Lanka’s sovereignty & territorial integrity and its right to protect its citizens & combat terrorism – why did UNHRC interfere in Sri Lanka thereafter?

If in 2009 UNHRC condemned LTTE for attacking civilian population and using civilians as human shields, why have resolutions since 2012 omitted this?

If in 2009 UNHRC acknowledged the continued engaged by the GOSL in regularly & transparently briefing & updating the Council on the HR situation on the grounds & measures taken WHY is UNHRC making subsequent unwarranted allegations?

If in 2009 UNHRC welcomed end of hostilities and accepted that GoSL liberated ‘tens of thousands of its citizens’ kept by LTTE ‘against their will as hostages’ why has UNHRC subsequently made allegations only against GoSL and SL Army?

Sri Lanka has statistically shown all of its assurances made since 2009

  • Rehabilitating & reintegrating child soldiers
  • Helping find livelihood for rehabilitated combatants – some even married off sponsored by the SL Army
  • Helping child soldiers to complete their education
  • Resettling IDPs
  • Facilitating IDPs – housing, livelihood, education etc

Majority of demands made with every resolution since 2012 have nothing to do with Sri Lanka’s terrorist conflict but making demands interfering into the internal affairs of Sri Lanka which violates UN Charter.

Much of the allegations made since 2009 have no evidence but plenty of hype and propaganda.

The bi-weekly consultative meetings to which UN and associated bodies were invited to discuss the ground situation with GoSL representatives and Armed Forces heads was the best forum where diplomats and UN agencies could demand answers if there had been any issues related to giving aid, excesses committed by the army, high civilian deaths as a result of hostilities etc..however these meeting minutes do not have any such questions raised. How come figures of ‘dead’ are getting inflated annually?

The absurdity of this claim should be realized looking at this 1 photo of 2500 dead Iraqi’s & imagine how much space 40,000 dead Tamils would need. The Sri Lankan Army would have to be some magicians to make all these dead disappear.

Shenali D Waduge

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