US used arm-twisting tactics to garner support
The LTTE front organisations and sympathetic groups world over
including the Canadian Tamil Congress, Global Tamil Forum and British
Tamil Forum welcomed the adoption of the latest US led resolution on Sri
Lanka at the 25th regular sessions of the UN Human Rights Council which
concluded last week.
The resolution calling for an international investigative mechanism
was passed last Thursday at Palais des Nations in Geneva amidst protests
by Sri Lanka and many friendly states, even India questioning the move
given that Sri Lanka has proved its commitment for genuine
reconciliation by calling for elections in the North and investigate
Human Rights Allegations through a domestic mechanism.
Observers said the United States used arm twisting tactics to garner
support and get the numbers that was required to show their might but
outcome proved 24 countries did not approve of the action proposed by
the US and the UK.
The resolution was passed with 23 votes for, 12 against and 12
It was also unusual for the UNHRC's Director, Program Planning and
Budget Division to table the budgetary allocations for the proposed
action, along with the final draft of the resolution, on March 25.
The document was tabled in the Council on the same day the final
draft was tabled.
“This goes to indicate that the UNHRC had been certain of the outcome
of the vote,” a senior diplomatic source said. The usual practice would
have been to table the budgetary details after the resolution is passed
at the council.
The efforts and the pains taken to fine tune the draft showed clearly
how concerned the countries were about the resolution. The US called up
a couple of informal meetings to revise the text a number of times to
accommodate the concerns of the member states who allegedly had no
option but to support it under duress, the sources added.
In a statement posted on its website immediately after the passing of
the resolution the CTC said, ‘The Canadian Tamil Congress welcomes the
Internaitonal investigative mechanism on Sri Lanka’
A spokesperson for the CTC said the resolution will not bring back
the 70,000 lives lost in the war, but will give some solace to the
families that those responsible will be brought to justice - quoting a
figure neither the UN nor the ICRC has endorsed.
Garry Anandasangaree and Vani Selvarajah of CTC were in Geneva during
the sessions campaigning for the resolution.
The British Tamil Forum said they welcome the explicit call for
investigation while criticising the resolution for several defects
including a narrow scope of inquiry. Nonetheless they called upon their
allies to strengthen the inquiry by ‘delivering witnesses and evidence'.
The Global Tamil Forum led by Fr. Emmanuel said the GTF praises the
adoption of the latest resolution on Sri Lanka. It has also thanked the
British PM David Cameron for raising international awareness on the
issue and the foreign office officials and British, Canadian and US
diplomats for their ‘hard work to make this resolution a success'.
Their statement has not made it a secret that GTF travelled with
Parliamentarians from the TNA making several visits to various capitals
to lobby support.
It should be noted that the Head of GTF Fr. Emmanuel was refused
landing permission by India when he arrived in Chennai in 2011 due to
his questionable conduct and LTTE propaganda. He has allegedly, more
than once, glorified LTTE leader Prabhakaran and suicide bombers as
martyrs speaking under the Tiger flag.
The US Secretary of State John Kerry in a statement issued from the
office of his spokesperson after the adoption of the resolution said
they looked forward to continuing engagement with Sri Lanka
“I am proud of the crucial role that Britain has played to secure
this outcome. I said in November that we would achieve more by standing
up for our values rather than sitting on the sidelines. And that is
exactly what we have done.” British Prime Minister David Cameron also
said in statement.
Many countries including Cuba, Pakistan, Iran, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe
and Venezuela and Asian giants China and Russia highly criticised the US
led move saying it was an attempt to politicise human rights and the
resolution goes beyond the mandate of the office of the Human Rights
India also taking a different stance this time than in 2012 and 2013,
said the 2014 resolution on Sri Lanka ignored the notable progress
already made by the country and the proposals therein were ‘inconsistent
India's Ambassador Dilip Sinha in a lengthy statement added, ‘Sri
Lanka should be provided all assistance it desires in a cooperative and
collaborative manner. And it has been India’s firm belief that adopting
an intrusive approach that undermines national sovereignty and
institutions is counterproductive.’
Some excerpts of the oral statements by countries who spoke against
Full statement by India:
Explanation of Vote by the Permanent Representative of India to the
UN Offices in Geneva, Amb. Dilip Sinha at the UNHRC on Agenda Item 2 on
the resolution on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human
rights in Sri Lanka.
The UN Human Rights Council has adopted three resolutions on Sri
Lanka since May 2009 when the three decades old conflict in that country
ended. India has always been of the view that the end of the conflict in
Sri Lanka provided a unique opportunity to pursue a lasting political
settlement, acceptable to all communities in Sri Lanka, including the
India believes that this Council’s efforts should contribute to a
State’s own efforts in the promotion and protection of human rights. We
are strongly supportive of Sri Lanka’s continued engagement with the
We encourage the High Commissioner to continue to provide technical
assistance in accordance with the relevant HRC resolutions. We are also
supportive of close engagement of UN Special Procedures with the
Government of Sri Lanka. It was in this spirit that India supported the
resolutions adopted by the Council in 2012 and 2013, which sought to
promote such cooperation.
During the past year, there have been some notable developments in
Sri Lanka. The Government of Sri Lanka has honoured its commitment to
the international community to hold elections to the Northern Provincial
Further, the Government of Sri Lanka has taken steps to implement
some of the important recommendations of Lessons Learnt and
Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), such as Trilingual Policy, promoting
the official use of the Tamil language and the upgrading of schools in
the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
The High Commissioner’s report mandated by this Council’s resolution
of 2013 on Sri Lanka, rightly acknowledges the progress made in
reconstruction, resettlement and implementation of some of the
recommendations made by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission
(LLRC) set up by the Government of Sri Lanka.
At the same time, the report also notes that the Government of Sri
Lanka has failed to ensure independent and credible investigations into
past violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.
The implementation of LLRC recommendations lies at the core of
reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka. India continues to
underscore that the report of the LLRC and its findings and
recommendations, provide a window of opportunity to forge a consensual
way forward towards a lasting political settlement. We call for
effective and timely implementation of all the constructive
recommendations contained in the LLRC Report including those pertaining
to missing persons, detainees, reduction of ‘high security sones’,
return of private lands by the military and withdrawal of security
forces from the civilian domain in the Northern Province.
The elections to the Northern Provincial Council in September 2013
were a significant step forward. However, much more needs to be done by
the Government of Sri Lanka towards a meaningful devolution of powers.
It needs to continue to take specific measures towards broad-based,
inclusive, meaningful and genuine reconciliation with the minority Tamil
We call on the Government of Sri Lanka to make purposeful efforts to
fulfil its commitments, including on the devolution of political
authority through the full implementation of the 13th Amendment of the
Constitution of Sri Lanka and build upon it.
As the closest neighbour with thousands of years of relations with
Sri Lanka, we cannot remain untouched by developments in that country.
Since the end of the armed conflict, India remains engaged in a
substantial way in the relief, resettlement, rehabilitation and
reconstruction process in Sri Lanka.
We have extended substantial assistance to the Government of Sri
Lanka in its efforts for resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons,
de-mining, education, connectivity, livelihood restoration and economic
revival. This has contributed towards return of a modicum of normalcy to
the Northern and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka.
In asking the OHCHR to investigate, assess and monitor the human
rights situation in Sri Lanka, the resolution ignores the progress
already made by the country in this field and places in jeopardy the
cooperation currently taking place between the Government of Sri Lanka
and the OHCHR and the Council’s Special Procedures.
Besides, the resolution is inconsistent and impractical in asking
both the Government of Sri Lanka and the OHCHR to simultaneously conduct
India believes that it is imperative for every country to have the
means of addressing human rights violations through robust national
mechanisms. The Council’s efforts should therefore be in a direction to
enable Sri Lanka to investigate all allegations of human rights
violations through comprehensive, independent and credible national
investigative mechanisms and bring to justice those found guilty. Sri
Lanka should be provided all assistance it desires in a cooperative and
It has been India’s firm belief that adopting an intrusive approach
that undermines national sovereignty and institutions is
Any significant departure from the core principle of constructive
international dialogue and cooperation has the potential to undermine
efforts of this Council for promoting universal respect for the
protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Moreover, any external investigative mechanism with an open-ended
mandate to monitor national processes for protection of human rights in
a country, is not reflective of the constructive approach of dialogue
and cooperation envisaged by UN General Assembly resolution 60/251 that
created the HRC in 2006 as well as the UNGA resolution 65/281 that
reviewed the HRC in 2011.
We are, therefore, concerned that the resolution has the potential to
hinder the efforts of the country rather than contribute constructively
to its efforts, and hence inadvertently complicate the situation.
It is for these reasons that my delegation cannot go along with the
resolution and will abstain on the resolution under consideration.
Explanation of Vote by Pakistan's Permanent Representative Ambassador
Pakistan is opposed to country specific resolutions in principle.
This is because such resolutions are ineffective and counter-productive.
Consent of the country concerned is imperative for tangible results to
promote and protect human rights.
Pakistan played a key role in the 2009 resolution on Sri Lanka with
the consent and cooperation of the country. This resolution achieved
positive results. Sri Lanka fully cooperated with the Human Rights
It also demonstrated continued and tangible progress on the ground in
addressing issues related to the reconciliation process including
accountability, within the framework of Sri Lanka’s domestic
reconciliation process – the LLRC.
Sri Lanka has a long and proud tradition of democracy.
It has suffered for 30 years due to brutal terrorism by the LTTE, and
internationally recognised terrorist organisation. Eventually it has
succeeded in overcoming this menace of terrorism and separatism. The
international community, including the HRC, should help and support Sri
Lanka to heal its wounds and achieve reconciliation and lasting peace.
It should not add fuel to the fire.
Interference in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka is unacceptable. No
self-respecting country would agree to the intrusive measures advocated
in this resolution.
In particular operative para 10 of the resolution is inconsistent
with the principles and purposes of the UN Charter which calls for
respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States.
We strongly believe that reference to international investigation, as
a monitoring and investigation role of OHCHR in OP10 and singling out
the Northern Provincial Council for preferential treatment in OP6 are
clear violations of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.
Such a preferential focus is inconsistent with PP9 of the current
draft which reaffirms that all Sri Lankans are entitled to the full
enjoyment of their rights regardless of religion, belief or ethnicity.
This highlights the inherent contradictions contained in the draft.
OP10 vests the OHCHR with an investigative mandate in violation of
HRC resolution 60/251 and the IB package. The OHCHR does not have the
capacity or the resources to do so.
The budgetary implications for the proposed mechanism are not clear,
due to lack of clarity of the contours of the mandated activity in OP10.
Mandated activities need to be carried out through the regular budget.
Specificity of mandated activity or activities are therefore a
prerequisite with regard to the budget.
OP10 also introduces a timeframe into the investigation of alleged
violations through reference to the period covered by the LLRC, which
may be taken as from 2002-2009.
This timeframe, however, does not take into account the entire
duration of the conflict which spanned 30 years and thereby excludes the
atrocities and violations of IHL and IHRL committed by the LTTE prior to
2002. No inquiry can be justifiable and balanced without taking into
account the entire duration of the conflict.
The allegation of the absence of a credible domestic process to
address issues of accountability is not substantiated by evidence, given
the range of processes under implementation within the framework of the
reconciliation process, including the LLRC, of which this Council has
been briefed in detail by Sri Lanka.
We have also been just informed by the Secretariat that an amount of
1,460,900 dollars would be required to implement this resolution whereas
this amount was not available in the regular budget. In case co-sponsors
of the resolution would provide the financial support then resolution
will already be tainted.
This resolution is about politics not Human Rights. It is also a
crass example of hypocrisy and double-standards. It selectively targets
the Government of Sri Lanka but fails to hold to account the LTTE
terrorists who indulged in mass murder of innocent people for 30 years.
Moreover, the main sponsors of this resolution are hardly in a
position to hold Sri Lanka to account given their own track record of
human rights violations. For more than a decade they have and continue
to indulge in a consistent pattern of gross human rights violations
including illegal renditions, incommunicado detentions, torture and
extra-judicial killings – all behind the smokes-screen of fighting
While maintaining a conspiracy of silence over their own misdeeds,
these countries arrogate to themselves the right to sit in judgement
over others. This Council must, therefore, reject such duplicity.
For all these reasons and as a first step, Pakistan calls for a note
for deletion of Operative Para 10 of Res. L.1/Rev.1.
Excerpts of statements made by the ambassadors China, Russia, Cuba,
Venezuela and Japan:
Promotion and protection of human rights remains to the primary
responsibility of governments. Member states must respect the
sovereignty of Sri Lanka. The country must also be allowed to settle its
We must respect and encourage the government of Sri Lanka to continue
to conduct investigations. Trying to impose and external mechanism of
monitoring and investigation will do nothing into promote of internal
efforts of reconciliation on the contrary it will complicate the
When the international community provides technical assistance to Sri
Lanka, it must fully consult the government and obtain its agreement.
We support the proposal by Pakistan to delete paragraph 10 (calling
for an international investigation). We also call upon other members of
the council to vote in favour of this proposal.
The Chinese Ambassador's statement after the vote:
The Chinese delegation would like to express profound regret. You did
not give us an opportunity to express ourselves before the vote.
In the view of China, Sri Lanka has suffered for more than two
decades due to terrorism. In promoting national reconciliation, socio
economic development and human rights, Sri Lanka has made considerable
efforts and these efforts must be recognised.
The international community must respect their right to choose their
own path of development. Sri Lanka must be given enough space and time
for internal reconciliation.
During the vote on this draft resolution, the co-sponsors did not
take into consideration the efforts made by Sri Lanka and the successes
they have achieved.
They used the problem of human rights to openly exert pressure on Sri
Lanka, to intervene in the internal affairs and... the process of
internal reconciliation. This is a clear example of politicisation of
At the same time some of the contents of the draft go against the
mandate of the office of the high commissioner and provisions of the
resolution upon which we set up this council.
Many members have expressed their deep concern, consequently China
voted against the resolution. It is our view that this resolution does
not reflect the consensus of the council.
The Russian Federation:
We wanted to make this statement before the resolution was adopted
and we regret not being given us that opportunity. The Russian
Federation voted against the draft resolution on Sri Lanka because we
consider the resolution is non-constructive and unprincipled. We believe
national reconciliation must be done by the Sri Lankans themselves.
Attempts to interfere from my side will have negative effects on this
We cannot agree with imposing state assistance when it is not in need
and not requested. This draft goes well beyond the limits of
reconciliation and its constituency and interferes in the internal
affairs of a sovereign state.
First of all, we like to ask the floor to support the request made by
the Ambassador of Pakistan on operative paragraph 10. We do not believe
we need an international investigation.
Sri Lanka has shown a genuine commitment in the promotion and
protection of human rights of its people and shown progress in various
phases of reconciliation.
The imposition of an international investigation does not recognise
the process under way within the country and what is worse it will have
a negative impact on the process of national reconciliation.
Cuba, therefore, supports the deletion of P-10. Some pretexts have
been used to abuse the need to submit the draft resolution. This is not
what we need. We need dialogue and cooperation.
If we see the imposition of measures such as this one, what is the
signal we want to send out to the world - simply that cooperation is not
important; it is simply a case of imposing the interests of the powerful
over the others. What else can we ask of Sri Lanka - a country whose
government has come cooperatively to each Council session. It has
provided full open information, it works with others, it has invited
special procedures to visit and even hosted madam high commissioner in
the country. These are simply pretexts that are abused by the sponsors
of the resolution.
For all of the years terrorism lasted, these sponsors simply kept
their peace and were never concerned about the situation in Sri Lanka.
Precisely when it ended, when there is real possibility for
sovereignty for reconstruction for peace and right to development for
people of Sri Lanka, then suddenly they begin to have an interest in
Cuba supports the efforts made by the government of Sri Lanka to keep
pressing ahead for reconciliation for the promotion and protection of
Human Rights. Cuba is a friend of the people of Sri Lanka. And that is
precisely why we can in no way support this draft resolution. It is
Its only objective is to promote disunity and add to the barriers to
the efforts of reconciliation which are positively conducted in the
country at present.
We, therefore, will be voting against this draft resolution.
Speaking after the adoption of the resolution the Cuban Ambassador
said, Cuba voted against the draft resolution because we believe it was
entirely manipulated and of a political nature. I am taking the floor
now so that our complete disapproval is formally recorded.
We are entirely against having the voting proceedings manipulated,
you violated the proceedings twice yourself Mr. President, as for the
point of order that was being requested by Cuba there was a violation
and also the right to explain the vote prior to the vote occurring, we
regret very much that this happened and we hope this is not going to be
a hallmark of your presidency.
We do understand that perhaps you do not have a complete grasp of the
rules and procedure but it is the duty of the secretary to properly
advice you in a manner which is entirely pursuant to the rules.
I would recommend to you that you read out rule 128 again, you may
refer to the first part of the rule, ...you omitted to say the Chairman
may permit members to speak before or after a vote has taken place in a
secret vote, but it was clearly not a secret vote that was being held
I reiterate, Mr President, we do support your work but you need to
ensure that this is entirely pursuant to the general assembly's rules
and is not simply limited to the rules of the delegations.
Venezuela rejects in the strongest possible terms, initiatives such
as this. They are initiatives which tarnish the work of this council and
they are most often used against developing countries.
And this is precisely the case in respect of Sri Lanka.
We regret that the co-sponsors of the draft resolution have simply
ignored the very great and demonstrated efforts of the Government of Sri
Lanka to comply with human rights obligations since peace was restored
in 2009. Sri Lanka continues to show that it is committed to this
council and its mechanisms to the UPR and to the treaty bodies to the
office of the HC.
It continuously and openly provides information as to the progress it
has made under the challenges that remain.
Venezuela believes that the interventionist attempt in Sri Lanka's
domestic policies is unjustified. These are attempts not based on
cooperation and genuine dialogue which are the corner stones of the work
of this Council.
We raised the warning about the very serious risk posed by
resolutions as this one, they are biased and interventionist. They
re-propose age old anachronic practices.
They are selective and apply double standard. This is an attack on
the independence and sovereignty of the people of the south who do not
submit to the pronouncements of some powers. The successful mechanism of
the Universal Periodic Review using dialogue and cooperation is the
appropriate for a for the promotion and protection of HR. We state once
again that we reject this draft resolution. It is motivated by political
It does not comply with the universality, impartiality and non
selectivity which govern the mandate of this council.
Japan shares with many countries the policy objective of supporting
Sri Lanka's efforts towards national reconciliation and improvement of
its human rights situation.
Japan has been in dialogue with Sri Lanka on a bi-lateral basis and
encouraging Sri Lanka to implement concrete measures for promoting
national reconciliation and ensuring accountability.
In March, last year the President of Sri Lanka promised Prime
Minister Abe to hold northern provincial council elections by last
September and election was carried out in accordance with this
Japan believes in continued engagement with Sri Lanka has resulted in
further commitments, among those are agreements with UN OHCHR to conduct
joint needs assessment, commitment to submit a draft bill on protection
of... without delay, and commitment to release publicly the final report
on the presidential commission on missing persons and invite UN working
group on enforced and involuntary disappearances to Sri Lanka.
It is unfortunate that negotiations on this draft resolution did not
result in building of cooperative relationship among all parties.
Japan for its part will continue to contribute to efforts of the
international community to help Sri Lanka. Japan strongly advises Sri
Lanka to continue to make utmost effort to cooperate with the
international community to steadily improve concrete measures including
to which Sri Lanka committed to by itself. On this basis Japan abstained
from this vote.
[Voting in 2009]
At the 11th special session of the UN Human Rights Council on May 27,
2009, Sri Lanka's counter resolution against the EU was adopted by a
record vote of 29 to 12, with six abstentions.
In favour: Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil,
Burkina Faso, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Ghana, India,
Indonesia, Jordan, Madagascar, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan,
Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South
Africa, Uruguay and Zambia.
Against: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Chile, France, Germany,
Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Abstained: Argentina,Gabon, Japan, Mauritius, Republic of Korea and