Posted on August 23rd, 2021


Yahapalana government signed resolution 30/1 in September 2015, and then it signed resolution 34/1 in March 2017 and in November 2017 reiterated a “very firm” commitment to fully implement the resolution within two years.  The commitment was made by the Head of Delegation to the HRC’s Universal Periodic Review in Geneva, Harsha de Silva, Deputy Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs.

But after the electoral defeat of February 2018, Yahapalana changed its stance. At the Geneva meeting of March 2018, Minister Tilak Marapana did not refer to the 2015 Geneva resolution at all. Tilak Marapana told Human Rights Council all reconciliation mechanisms will be implemented in accordance with our Constitution”

Minister Sarath Amunugama, who was also in the delegation, said they had clearly explained to the UNHRC that they would not allow any international interference which violated the Constitution.” We have clearly told the HRC that the government will not allow any foreign judges to come to Sri Lanka and interfere with the local judicial system. Sri Lanka has enough lawyers and a completely independent judiciary to look into its matters,” said Amunugama. It was unfair to categorize Sri Lanka as one of the countries that had to face war crime charges, Sri Lanka defeated a very powerful terrorist organization.  Sri Lanka was very different to the other countries which had war crime charges at UNHRC.

The intelligentsia are now getting restless over Resolution 30/1.They are starting to probe the matter. Mahinda Samarasinghe was questioned. He stated that Sri Lanka’s decision to co-sponsor the Geneva Resolution 30/1 in Oct 2015 had not been discussed by the Cabinet of Ministers,  the Foreign Ministry had handled the  matter. There was no requirement to take it up at the Cabinet, he said. The Rajapaksa government had adopted a similar strategy in respect of the 2009 resolution. Tamara Kunanayagam said this was a very serious lapse on the part of government. The matter should have been first submitted to parliament to which the government is accountable.

The media wanted to know from Samarasinghe whether the Naseby information had been conveyed to Geneva. Samarasinghe said the Naseby information has not been discussed at the Cabinet. Lord Naseby during a meeting with President Sirisena in London had also commented on Sri Lanka’s failure to present its case in Geneva and to European countries. Sarath Amunugama said that the Foreign Affairs Ministry should have used the statement to deny allegations. .  However, Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana had assured Parliament in November 2017 that Lord Naseby’s statement would be used at the appropriate time.

The intelligentsia are now considering how to get out of this Resolution. Mahinda Samarasinghe said that Geneva Resolutions were not binding.  The Island pointed out that though the government had repeatedly claimed that Geneva Resolution wasn’t binding, it was in the process of implementing its recommendations. Samarasinghe said that Sri Lanka would only implement what was acceptable.

Sri Lanka should address the issues relating to Geneva from a legal perspective and call on the Human Rights Council to withdraw Resolution 30/1 and re-visit the stand taken regarding Sri Lanka said one critic. It was possible for UNHRC to revisit a Resolution. That decision was solely in the hands of the members of the Human Rights Council. It would be up to the member states of the Human Rights Council to decide whether to revisit Sri Lanka’s case on the basis of representations made by a country,   said an UN official.

The only hope for Sri Lanka is for a future government to sit with the Office of the Human Rights Council and renegotiate the resolution, so that Sri Lanka’s obligations are fulfilled within the context of its own Constitution as well as within the internationally recognized laws, said Ladduwahetty.

Whether the fact that the Sri Lankan government cosponsored the Resolution makes its implementation obligatory is debatable, said N.A. de S Amaratunge. For one thing, the government may have been coerced by the western powers that helped the government to come to power.

Under the UN Charter, resolutions adopted by the General Assembly, including subsidiary bodies such as the Human Rights Council, are recommendations only and not legally binding on Member States. Numerous resolutions are never ever implemented. The US, for instance, has never implemented the annual resolutions calling for lifting of its criminal blockade against Cuba, nor has Israel the hundreds of resolutions on Occupied Palestine,  a critic said.

The simple solution, therefore, is  ignore the resolution and mobilize the support of Sri Lanka’s natural allies to take Sri Lanka off the Council’s agenda the critic said. This would mean ensuring there is no resolution against Sri Lanka or one that does not have an operative paragraph requiring the Council to consider the matter at a future session. The resolution is binding only because Yahapalana wants it to be binding, concluded Tamara Kunanayagam.

This series ends with reference to a new Human Rights issue facing Sri Lanka in Geneva, the emergence of the Muslim factor in the UN arena. This is clearly connected to the Resolution At a side event at HRC sessions In Geneva, at which paper presenters and audience conducted themselves admirably, moderate yet critical representatives of the Muslim community rationally presented their case, their grievances and their apprehensions said Dayan Jayatilleke.

Tamara Kunanayagam looked at it differently. Recent attacks on Muslims had helped advance the UN-US agenda in respect of Sri Lanka. The attacks coincided with the sessions of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Washington has been concerned that its resolution has been widely contested by the Sri Lankan people, including at the highest level of State, said Tamara Kunanayagam speaking at ‘Eliya’.

The maiden appearance of the local Muslims at the HRC session in Geneva is on YouTube. We have all seen it.  It is very clear that these Muslim representatives have been brought in to   show that Sri Lanka is simultaneously anti Muslim as well as anti Tamil. They have been brought for a purpose. The west finds that the case for Tamil Eelam is about to be exposed and weakened at Geneva. That is due to the Global Sri Lanka Forum, starting to invade   the HRC sessions In Geneva, well primed and ready to demolish the case for a bogus Eelam. It was necessary   therefore to substitute another ethnic issue” on to the stage and make Global Sri Lanka Forum battle both ethnic issues.   ( continued)

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