Examining UNHRC Resolution against Sri Lanka

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Synopsis: The UNHRC (United Nations Human Rights Council) resolution against Sri Lanka is a victory for victims of abuses. It will help them obtain information, accountability, and justice.

  • Recently, the UNHRC adopted the resolution titled ‘Promotion of Reconciliation Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka.
  • The resolution accused Sri Lanka of war crimes. It promises to bring responsible personnels to the international courts along with imposing targeted sanctions on them.
  • The resolution decided to create capacity at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). It will collect, preserve and consolidate evidence.
  • Evidences can be not only on war crimes but also on other gross violations of human rights and serious violations of humanitarian law.
  • India along with several other Muslim countries abstained from voting. Whereas, China and Pakistan voted against the resolution.

What are the Main Factors that led to the adoption of the UNHRC resolution against Sri Lanka?

There are mainly three factors responsible for this, they are

  1. First, the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Special Rapporteurs and procedures gave strong support to the resolution. For example, the Report of the High Commissioner on “Promoting Accountability and Reconciliation in Sri Lanka” made the resolution inevitable.
  2. Second, in addition to the work of OHCHR, the Tamil groups were active, nationally and globally. The effort by Tamil diaspora throughout the world mounted pressure on Human rights watchdogs.
  3. Third, the most important reason for the adoption of resolution was mainly due to the abstinence of Muslim countries. Despite efforts from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and China, and Rajapaksas personal calls to OIC members, the majority of Muslim countries abstained.
  4. Fourth, the efforts by international civil society to stand up for a global cause. They are very active members of the Human Rights Council.
What led to the resolution?
  1. In 2014 Sri Lanka faced a hostile Human rights Council. It led to the Resolution of the Human Rights Council in 2015 (resolution 30/1) that was co-sponsored by Sri Lanka.
  2. Co-sponsorship means that Sri Lanka will accept international standards while keeping control of the national process. i.e., the legislation to be enacted and the personnel to be appointed.
  3. After that, As per the 2015 resolution, Sri Lanka accepted international best practices. An office for missing persons, an office for reparations, a truth commission and a judicial process for those guilty of serious crimes established.
  4. Thus, the resolution 30/1 became a great success. After that, Sri Lanka was not on the international punitive agendas. It became eligible to GSP plus incentives from the EU, and UN peacekeeping missions.
  5. But, Sri Lanka withdrew from the resolution arbitrarily. This allowed the Human Rights Council to create a new mechanism to collect and preserve evidence. This process is now independent of the Srilankan government.
How this resolution is viewed by different stakeholders?
  • For Sinhalese, they see it as an attack by western countries on Sri Lanka for its closeness to China. They see this as a process of Imperialism and neocolonialism in the 21st century.
  • But for members of the minorities, victim groups, and civil society activists see this resolution as a check on the surveillance state.

Source: The Hindu

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