US Next Step for Sri Lanka

Daya Gamage – Asian Tribune Political Note
Washington, D.C. 11 April (

The Government of the United States through its diplomatic envoy in Colombo signaled Sri Lanka the next step it intends taking; Go beyond the UNHRC system to get Sri Lanka to a total commitment toward reconciliation and accountability.

American Ambassador Michele Sison in a policy statement addressing Sri Lanka’s Foreign Correspondents Association on Monday, April 8 in Colombo gave the GSL the following message;“As we examine next steps, we will renew our consideration of all mechanisms available, both in the Human Rights Council and beyond”.

The U.S. qualified the above in the following manner through Ambassador Sison.

She declared “This brings us back to the original question: what happens next? I would submit that this depends on the government of Sri Lanka. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ report dated February 11, 2013 reaffirmed a long-standing recommendation for “an independent and credible international investigation” into alleged violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law in Sri Lanka. The latest resolution took note of this call”.

So the United States in incorporating Navi Pillai’s longstanding suggestion that ‘ an independent and credible international investigation’ reaffirmed its policy through its ambassador in Colombo.

These are the two highlights of Ms. Sison’s address to the Foreign Correspondents Association on Monday.
She explains what ‘reconciliation’ and ‘accountability’ means to the United States: “When we say reconciliation, we mean finding a way for all Sri Lankans to live together in peace, harmony, and security in a unified country…a country in which the democratic space exists for all to be able to express their views freely, and for all to share in the prosperity of the country in terms of access to land, employment, education, and so forth. When we say accountability, we mean, identifying those responsible for committing abuses and imposing consequences for these acts or omissions”.

The ambassador explained why the U.S. took such a stand.

(Quote) And, of course, the United States has expressed disappointment with the stalled progress on reconciliation and accountability since the end of the conflict in 2009. As you know, this is the second year the U.S. has sponsored a resolution in Geneva. Some have asked me, “why a second resolution?” Let me explain.

The 2012 resolution, passed by a majority of countries on the Human Rights Council, sent a clear message that the international community shared the United States’ concerns regarding the lack of progress on reconciliation and accountability. The 2012 resolution simply asked the government of Sri Lanka to fulfill its own commitments to its people from its Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission report, and to meet its own international obligations.

Following the 2012 resolution, the United States Government continued to raise concerns on the human rights front. We monitored the situation throughout the country, engaged with the government when we had concerns, and offered assistance whenever we were able.

A few months after the 2012 resolution, the government of Sri Lanka took the positive step of releasing a National Action Plan to implement its commitments regarding the recommendations of the LLRC report. Unfortunately, the National Action Plan did not cover all the recommendations of the LLRC, just as the LLRC recommendations did not address all the outstanding issues of reconciliation and accountability. Nevertheless, the National Action Plan included many steps that, if completed, would be helpful for the country.

So, at the beginning of 2013, the U.S. Government looked at what the government of Sri Lanka had undertaken to do under its own LLRC report. We looked at the conditions around the country. We compared those to the government’s commitments and stated goals. We realized that not only were many of the concerns that led to the first resolution still there, but also, that in some ways the situation had deteriorated. (End Quote)

But the Government of Sri Lanka took a completely different tone as expressed by its External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L.Pieris in Sri Lanka parliament on Tuesday, April 9.

There is no change in the government’s policy of rejecting the US sponsored resolution in Geneva against Sri Lanka as it indicated selective treatment — while the report referenced in the resolution is entirely ‘outside of inter-governmental process’ the Minister said.

In totally disagreeing with the U.S. position he added that the resolution attempts to show that Sri Lanka is one of the most trouble-prone countries in the world which cannot be accepted since the country has returned to peace after 30 years of violence. This is a selective treatment.

The External Affairs Minister further stated that another reason for not accepting this resolution fundamentally is that the resolution seeks to incorporate the report of the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights. He added that the High Commissioner called for an international investigation on this country not today or last week but one week after the hostilities ended in 2009.

He questioned on what evidence did she call for the international investigation. He added she had repeatedly called for such investigation.

The American ambassador’s complete statement is carried in Asian Tribune elsewhere.

– Asian Tribune –

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April 13, 2013 · 8:39 pm

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