Posted on May 23rd, 2021


Sri Lanka had plenty to say  at Geneva when the UNHRC Resolution 46/1 ‘ Promoting reconciliation ,accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka” came up for   approval in Geneva in February 2021.

Sri Lanka said   that the Resolution violated Article 2(7) of the United Nations Charter, and acts beyond the mandate given in United Nations Resolution 60/251.  UNHRC has no right to interfere in the affairs of a sovereign country in this manner.

The Resolution is based on the report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Sri Lanka presented to the 46th Session of the HRC. The report is one-sided and exceeds the mandate of the UN Human Rights Council. It contains sweeping recommendations and unsubstantiated and unwarranted comments of essentially political nature which no self-respecting sovereign country can accept. This report violates the principles of sovereign equality of all member states of the UN and non-interference in internal affairs. This Resolution is the work of other countries.

Sri Lanka also categorically rejected the unprecedented proposal in this Resolution to expand the role of the OHCHR. This sets a dangerous precedent and will have wide-ranging implications for all countries. The Council cannot assume tasks not assigned to it by the UN General Assembly in resolution 60/251.

Does Sri Lanka represent a case warranting the immediate attention of the Human Rights Council, Sri Lanka asked. Sri Lanka has only defeated a secessionist   campaign, and acted within its legal rights to defend its territorial integrity.

We  leave it to the members and observers of this Council to make their own judgment on whether Sri Lanka represents a situation that warrants the urgent attention of this Council, or if this campaign is essentially a political move. It is regrettable that countries with vested interests seek to achieve their political ambitions using the Human Rights Council as a tool.

The Council must hold the scales even. The vote on this Resolution provides an opportunity for the member countries of the United Nations to see whether the Human Rights Council is staying within its objectives. We urge that this resolution be rejected by the Council and be brought to closure, concluded Sri Lanka .”

The Resolution was put to the vote.  UNHRC announced, The United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva adopted by a vote, the draft Resolution titled Promoting reconciliation, accountability, and human rights in Sri Lanka”  A/HRC/46/L.1/Rev.1) tabled by a ‘Core Group’ of countries, on March 22, 2021 during its 46th Session. Out of the 47 Members of the Council, 22 countries voted in favour, 11 voted against and 14 abstained, stated UNHRC.

In favour (22): Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Bahamas, Brazil, Bulgaria, Côte d’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, France, Germany, Italy, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Republic of Korea, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Uruguay. Against (11): Bangladesh, Bolivia, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Pakistan, Philippines, Russian Federation, Somalia, Uzbekistan and Venezuela. Abstentions (14): Bahrain, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Japan, Libya, Mauritania, Namibia, Nepal, Senegal, Sudan and Togo.

Sri Lanka commented on the result. It is clear from the voting result that the majority of the Council did not support this Resolution. There was significant support for Sri Lanka . China , Russia and Pakistan  voted against the Resolution.  So did Bangladesh, Philippians and Venezuela., India abstained. We are aware that some of the countries which stood by Sri Lanka at this vote withstood immense pressure on them in doing so. We thank all countries who braved   pressure to reject the Resolution.

Marshall Islands  voted against Sri Lanka . Marshall Elands has always followed the United States at the United Nations and, voted with USA. on all key issues .in December 2017, the Marshall Islands was one of just nine countries (including the United States and Israel) to vote against a motion adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) condemning the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  Marshall Islands  recognizes Taiwan.

Neville Ladduwahetty  pointed out that the UNHCR followed the method of counting used in the Committees of the General Assembly.   Resolution was approved on a simple majority, ignoring the abstaining votes. Since the votes for the Resolution were less than half the 47-members in the Council,  the Resolution has been adopted despite the fact that more than half decided not to support it .

However, the 15-member Security Council requires nine affirmative votes for a decision to be adopted. Elsewhere,  organizations require half plus one for a decision to be adopted. Simple majorities in most Parliaments require half plus one of its elected members for a Bill to become Law.

UNHRC should revised its voting regulations. The current practice allows Resolutions to be adopted by less than half the number in the Council. This is not good enough a threshold for a UN institution as important as the Human Rights Council where much is at stake for all States.

The Human Rights Council is in a league by itself. Since its decisions impact on nearly every aspect of human life, the procedures and practices it adopts should be  sound. Sri Lanka should take the initiative to table a Resolution in the General Assembly calling on the Human Rights Council to take a fresh approach in the adoption of Resolutions. Even if the abstaining votes are not recognized, no Resolution should be adopted without half plus one of its members casting an affirmative vote . (Continued)

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