BREAKING NEWS

Mar 7, 2019

Sri Lanka rolling over or playing possum?

 Let Sri Lanka resolve its own problems, this is the message that will be resonated in Geneva by the Sri Lankan delegation. However, there seems to be two distinct approaches when making this message clear, one is the Government’s approach and the other is the President’s approach.

According to a senior official at the Ministry of foreign affairs, a proposal on Sri Lanka is to be presented on the 20th of March, during the 40th session of the UNHRC which is currently underway.

The report is expected to be a compilation of assessments provided by various UN Special rapporteur visits to Sri Lanka over the past few years as well as an assessment of Sri Lanka’s commitment in accordance with resolution 30/1 of 2015 which was co-sponsored by Sri Lanka.

The 2015 resolution was spearheaded by the United States of America, however following the withdrawal of the US from the UNHRC in June 2018 there were doubts as to the fate of the 2015 resolution.

It was later announced that a core group led by the United Kingdom and consisting of Canada, Germany, Macedonia, and Montenegro would be assuming responsibility for the resolution. Ironically, our once colonist is in a crisis of its own creation, as 9 days after the report is submitted on Sri Lanka, the UK is set to pull out from the EU with no visible deal in sight. The implications of a no-deal brexit have been described as devastating.

In such a backdrop, Sri Lanka has chosen to seek more time to implement the agreements made through the 2015 resolution. The Government’s approach has been to appease the UK and the Core group by rolling over and co-sponsoring a resolution that will grant a period of two years to implement the remaining conditions.

However, this has been opposed by Tamil politicians in Sri Lanka and the diaspora, with a petition being signed calling on the UNHRC not to extend the timeline for the implementation of the resolution.

While the Government plans on allowing the Sri Lankan delegation based in Geneva to handle the new co-sponsored resolution, the President has taken a more hands on approach. He has assigned 3 representatives to travel to Geneva and make the plea for more time. UNHRC veterans Dr. Sarath Amunugama and Mahinda Samarasinghe have been assigned to this delegation along with the new Governor of the Northern province Dr Suren Raghavan.

A decade after the end of the conflict, many of the lands occupied by the military have been released by the President, development that was missing from the north is being implemented at a rapid pace, independent missions have been set up to investigate missing persons and another office of reparations is on its way. So, the clear message it, we know what to do – all we need is the time to do it.

It is foolish to think that the wounds of a 30-year long conflict could be healed in just 10 years and it is hypocritical to strong arm or bully smaller countries such as Sri Lanka to do their bidding when the countries which spearheaded these same policies are moving away from larger UN bodies and adopting protectionist policies.

Sri Lanka needs to bide its time. With the US gone the UK has stepped up to the plate, but as Lord Naseby put it, the time will soon come when the UK needs us more than we need it.

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