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Saturday May 15th, 2021

UNHRC resolutions: Dinesh announces withdrawal from cosponsorship in Geneva

FILE PHOTO: Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunewardena / MFA handout photo

ECONOMYNEXT – Promising “homegrown solutions to contemporary challenges”, the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) formerly declared its decision today to withdraw from cosponsorship of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution 40/1 and the preceding resolutions 30/1 and 34/1.

Foreign Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena who addressed the high-level segment of the 43rd UNHRC session in Geneva a short while ago said that Sri Lanka will work toward the closure of the resolution in conjunction with all members of the UN.

“I wish to place on record Sri Lanka’s decision to withdraw from the cosponsorship of the resolution 40/1 on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka, which also incorporates and builds on preceding resolutions 30/1 of October 2015 and 34/1 of March 2017,” he said.

Gunawardena declared the government’s commitment to “sustainable peace and reconciliation” through an inclusive, domestically designed and executed reconciliation and accountability process. This will include a commission of inquiry (CoI) headed by a justice of the supreme court.

The foreign relations minister said the end of the war in 2009 advanced, secured and protected one of the fundamental human rights: the right to life, for all Sri Lankans – Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and others.

“Since 2009, not a bullet has been fired in the name of separatism in Sri Lanka,” he added.

Gunawardena said a “group of the UNHRC” had failed to appreciate GoSL endeavours in defeating terrorism and bringing about stability, humanitarian relief and lasting peace through a “carefully balanced reconciliation process”.

He accused the previous government of jettisoning the homegrown reconciliation process of the Mahinda Rajapaksa government that he claimed was bearing fruit. The Yahapalana administration, he said, “violated all democratic principles of governance” when it “unconstitutionally” agreed to cosponsor the 30/1 resolution binding the country to deliver the dictates of an international body.

“More seriously, it is seen that the dictated changes in the country pursuant to 30/1 undermined the national interest, compromised national security including weakening national intelligence operations and related safeguards which are deemed to have contributed to the lapses that resulted in the Easter Sunday attacks in April 2019,” said Gunawardena.

Resolution 30/1, he went on to say, had sought to cast on Sri Lanka obligations that could not be carried out within the country’s constitutional framework and had infringed on the sovereignty of the people. This, he said, was another factor that had prompted the present government to reconsider the cosponsorship.

Part of the delegation supporting Foreign Relations Minister Dinesh Gunewardena during the sessions. From Left to Right Additional Secretary to the President Admiral (Retd) Jayanath Colombage, State Minister of Public Administration and Home Affairs Mahinda Samarasinghe, Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Relations Ravinatha Aryasinha and seated behind Samarasinghe the Acting Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka in Geneva Dayani Mendis

Pointing to what he called the inherent illegality of the exercise, Gunawardena said the provisions in the resolution had forced the country to “carry out this experiment” that was impractical, unconstitutional and undeliverable.

The foreign relations minister also lamented the impact the resolutions had allegedly had on long nurtured regional relationships as well as relations with non-aligned nations, and on South Asian solidarity.

With President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resounding victory in November last year, Gunawardena further said, the people of Sri Lanka have given a signal for their wish for a different path forward.

“Sri Lanka remains committed to sustainable peace and reconciliation,” he said, adding that no one is more committed to this endeavour than the GoSL.

He declared the government’s commitment to a sustainable peace through a domestically designed process in line with the current administration’s stated policy framework and institutional reform consistent with Sri Lanka’s commitments.

Sri Lanka will continue to remain engaged with UN agencies and will seek their assistance where necessary including the regular human rights mandates, bodies and mechanisms in keeping with domestic priorities and policies, he stressed. (Colombo/Feb26/2020)


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