(Courtesy of Sunday Observer)
The United States and the co-sponsors of the latest Resolution against Sri Lanka to the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) have not only brazenly interfered with the internal matters of a sovereign state but have also violated Sri Lanka’s constitution.
Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha had quite rightly pointed out that the draft resolution on Sri Lanka deposited with the UNHRC by the core group comprising the US, UK, Mauritius, Montenegro and Macedonia, violates the constitutional provision of Sri Lanka.
The draft resolution is highly intrusive and is in breach of the sovereignty of the citizens of Sri Lanka and the country’s territorial integrity. It is politicised and a clear contravention of the accepted principles of conduct in the UNHRC. The resolution sets a bad precedent, and can in the medium-to-long term have an adverse impact on all developing member countries in the Council.
The vested interests of some Western countries are understandable as they prefer to have a Sri Lankan leadership that would dance to their whims and fancies. President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the ruling UPFA Government have always maintained an independent foreign policy without singing hosannas to the West.
It goes without saying that certain British politicians thrive on the Tamil Diaspora vote and are obliged to the LTTE sympathisers. But it is intriguing that Mauritius, Montenegro and Macedonia have become co-sponsors of the Resolution against Sri Lanka. It would be small wonder whether the representatives of these countries know at least Sri Lanka’s geographical location on the world map, apart from the contents of the Resolution and the true ground situation here altogether.
As Aryasinha had stressed, anyone unaware of the real ground situation in Sri Lanka at the Human Rights Council sessions over the past week, could not be blamed for thinking that Sri Lanka is perhaps the most troubled spot on this planet.
The draft text before the UNHRC sessions by the core group presenting this resolution – the USA, UK, Mauritius, Montenegro and Macedonia, should be reminded that Sri Lanka, like many Asian, African and Latin American countries represented in the world human rights body, had emerged from the yoke of colonialism as far back as 1948.
It is deplorable that they had conveniently forgotten the fact that Sri Lanka had suffered untold misery for almost three decades due to ruthless terrorism unleashed by the LTTE, world’s most ruthless terrorist organisation. After battling terrorism for three years in the humanitarian operation – the world’s largest human rescue mission, over half a million civilians were rescued from the jaws of death.
The most noteworthy achievement after the successful completion of the humanitarian operation on May 18, 2009 was that not a single person died in Sri Lanka due to terrorism. Moreover, all displaced civilians have been resettled after demining the LTTE-held areas. They received a new lease of life as the Government had invested four billion rupees on infrastructure development in the North.
Sri Lanka has embarked on an ambitious reconciliation drive by implementing the National Plan of Action of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). It is a crying shame that certain Western countries which pontificate to us on reconciliation had failed to behold the peaceful coexistence of all communities after terrorism was eradicated.
Notwithstanding these remarkable achievements, the obsession shown by some leaders, in the call for action on Sri Lanka, only bears out their hidden agenda in relentlessly targeting Sri Lanka, to placate pro-LTTE Tamil constituencies, for collateral electoral political gain. The baseless Resolution and any further action would only impede reconciliation now under way.
There is no rationale whatsoever to justify the call for a third successive US-led resolution on Sri Lanka during the UNHRC’s current session. The Government will continue to engage with all parties to seek a constructive dialogue on how to move reconciliation in Sri Lanka forward.
It is earnestly hoped that this spirit of engagement will be reciprocated, and that member and observer states of the UNHRC will perceive development in Sri Lanka with an open mind. Nevertheless, disgruntled international elements would by no means be tolerated in the guise of reconciliation.
The US intention to present the third successive Resolution against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC sessions was made known to the Government only in January, long before the UNHRC chief’s report was available. This is a clear indication that it was led by political imperatives, rather than an objective assessment of the situation on the ground situation as the UNHRC mandate, would need to base its assessment on Navi Pillay’s Report.
Sri Lanka has categorically rejected the recommendations in Pillay’s latest report, which reflected bias, and was tantamount to an unwarranted interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state. The Report itself contained substantial erroneous information and misperceptions and Sri Lanka called upon the OHCHR to correct through its Comments of the State on the Report which has been made public, though not reflected as an Addendum to the Report.
Sri Lanka was amazed by the violation of the UNHRC procedure envisaged by this draft which is in clear contravention of the rules of procedure and the method of engagement that guide the Council. The draft resolution is an unjustified endeavour to vest the Office of the High Commissioner with an investigative mandate, monitoring and assessment. These run contrary to the UNHRC Resolution 60/251, the IB package and Resolution GA 48/141.
Hence, Sri Lanka has rejected in toto such disingenuous efforts on the part of the proponents of the resolution to by-pass the method of engagement of the Council, which could not only set bad precedents, but also have wider relevance to all member and observer states of the Council.
It is crystal clear that the new draft resolution, which violates the constitution of Sri Lanka, is highly intrusive and is in breach of the sovereignty of the Sri Lankan people and the country’s territorial integrity. It also goes against, the core values of the UDHR, core international human rights treaties and basic principles of law that postulate equality among all people, the GA resolution 60/251 and the IB package.
Hence, the proponents of the resolution should take cognizance of the reconciliation in Sri Lanka. This is imperative at a time when Sri Lanka is implementing comprehensive reconciliation with all communities, having overcome the scourge of terrorism after a 30-year struggle.
This type of intimidation would not only be confined to Sri Lanka and would also pose a challenge to other sovereign states which are smaller in extent and with limited firepower. In this scenario, all Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) member states must continue to show their solidarity with Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka’s opposition to the Resolution was a fight on a matter of principle and Sri Lanka would not compromise on it. The member states of NAM should realise that what happens to Sri Lanka today, could happen to any other NAM country tomorrow.
Sri Lanka, over the years, continued to engage with the international community and needed no Resolutions encouraging it to do so. During that time too, Sri Lanka briefed various groups and shared information in a transparent manner.
Quite apart from the successful demining of the areas held by the terrorists and the speedy resettlement of persons displaced due to LTTE terror, Sri Lanka has rehabilitated around 12,000 ex-combatants and former child soldiers have been reunited with their families while others have been provided with a tertiary education within five years.
No other country, for that matter, had achieved such unique goals after the bitter battlefield experience. One is at a loss to understand as to what the West expects of us in the guise of reconciliation. Can they coerce Sri Lanka to perform miracles overnight?