Difficult to compete with powerful nations in UNHRC – Ali Sabry
Posted on October 5th, 2022

Courtesy Adaderana

Ahead of the vote on the new UN resolution on Sri Lanka, Foreign Minister Ali Sabry says it is difficult to compete with powerful nations in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

However, whatever the vote result Sri Lanka will stand firm against the new UNHRC resolution, he said speaking to the media from Geneva.

He said Sri Lanka would oppose the proposed UN resolution for accountability that would also include responsibility for economic crimes, emphasising that external forces” should not guide it on how to manage the country’s economy.

A new draft resolution, which is to be put to vote on October 7 at the Human Rights Council (UNHRC), is to additionally call for accountability on the island nation’s ongoing economic crisis.

We will not allow external forces to tell us how to manage our economy, we have taken our own measures for economic recovery,” Sabry told reporters through a video link from Geneva where he is attending the 51st session of the UNHRC.

The resolution’s initial draft read to enhance its monitoring and reporting on the situation of human rights in Sri Lanka, including on progress in reconciliation and accountability, and on the human rights impact of the economic crisis and corruption.

It also talks to present oral updates to the Human Rights Council at its 53rd sessions (June-July 2023) and 55th sessions (February-March 2025), and a written update at its 54th sessions (September-October 2024) followed with a comprehensive report that includes further options for advancing accountability at its 57th session (September-October 2025).

Sabry said the UNHRC lacked expertise to determine economic affairs.

Asked if Sri Lanka was tolerant of international mediation on resolving the economic crisis while opposing international mechanisms on human rights protection, Sabry said the island was having friendly cooperation on its economic recovery when the countries, mostly the West, tended to interfere in the human rights front.

He said the core group of countries led by the US, UK and others are being heavily lobbied by the Tamil diaspora domiciled there to move against Sri Lanka.

We have to defend our sovereignty as it is clear that these groups want to perpetuate these accusations to undermine us,” Sabry said.

He reiterated Sri Lanka’s position that international mechanisms to try service personnel was an impingement of the Sri Lankan Constitution.

Our war heroes must be protected, they can’t be allowed to be tried by external forces,” he said.

Sabry insisted that Sri Lanka had taken measures to address the accountability issues with certain local mechanisms set up already such as the office of missing persons, office of reparations and action initiated to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

We have released 94 per cent of the private properties (held for military purposes during the war with LTTE),” Sabry said.

He said the truth seeking mechanism which is to be set up soon would enable anyone to complain against the troops for any wrong doings.

He said Sri Lanka defeating the resolution was remote as some of the countries who had previously been members of the UNHRC to support Sri Lanka were no longer members.

The number in our favour would be significantly less, this is the reality,” Sabry said in the vote adding that powerful countries lobbying against us doesn’t reflect the will of the people”

The final draft of the new resolution on Sri Lanka was submitted to the 51st UNHRC session in Geneva today (05) along with the UN Human Rights High Commissioner’s report on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka.

The draft resolution, titled ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’ was initially sponsored by the Core Group on Sri Lanka including the UK, US, Germany, Canada, Malawi, Montenegro and North Macedonia.

It has now been signed also by Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovakia and Sweden. 

The resolution, Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka, will be voted this week at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

–With Agencies Inputs

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