Dinesh tells Parliament UNHRC resolution is illegal

Dinesh Gunawardena

Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena yesterday told Parliament that Sri Lanka will pursue domestic mechanisms aimed at bringing about reconciliation and lasting peace despite the resolution adopted by the UNHRC, and reiterated the Government’s commitment to protect those who made sacrifices to neutralise terrorism, protect the territorial integrity of the country and to regain for all people in Sri Lanka the most cherished of all rights – the right to life.

In a special statement to the House on the UN Human Rights Council Resolution on Sri Lanka adopted 22/11 with 14 abstentions, by the UN body on Tuesday, Gunawardena said the move was unhelpful, divisive and went against the principles of the UN Charter.

“It will lead to the polarisation of Sri Lankan society, contrary to the insistence of its proponents that it will bring about reconciliation,” Gunawardena said.

He said this intervention denies a State the right enshrined in the Charter and other UN instruments in respect of the right of its people to choose its system of governance, developing the institutions to govern itself and developing arrangements to meet national challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic in keeping with its civilizational values within provisions of the Constitution.

Gunawardena said the resolution is pushed forward at the behest of a few countries, representing one part of the world without the consent of Sri Lanka and therefore unhelpful and divisive.

“There is no moral right to interfere into affairs of a sovereign country in this manner. No country has a greater interest in bringing about reconciliation among its peoples than Sri Lanka,” he said.

Gunawardena said Sri Lanka categorically rejects the unprecedented proposal in this resolution to expand the role of the OHCHR.

“This sets a dangerous precedent and will have wide ranging implications for all countries,» said Gunawardena.

He said the resolution is based on the report on Sri Lanka by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights presented to the 46th Session of the HRC, which violates the principles of sovereign equality of all states and non-interference in internal affairs.

The Government, he said, has rejected the report as it contains unsubstantiated and unwarranted comments of essentially political nature which no self-respecting sovereign country can accept.

“It has been compiled within months after the formation of a new Government in Sri Lanka, without any field visit, while the whole world was grappling with the ongoing global pandemic,” Gunawardena said.

He said the resolution seeks to create a perception of discrimination and marginalisation of its people, which is far from the truth.

“Issues affecting the people of Sri Lanka are common to all people, irrespective of their ethnicity or religion. The Government is determined to achieve its main targets to improve the lives of the poor, despite these distractions.”

He added that no sovereign Government is bound to work according to external prescriptions but be guided by the democratic aspirations of its own people.

“Sri Lanka has a well-established, time-honoured legal system which is capable of ensuring dispensation of justice according to the constitution of Sri Lanka,” the Minister told Parliament.

He said it was regrettable that countries with vested interests seek to achieve their political and strategic ambitions either through political destabilisation or economic deprivation of the less influential countries of the global South by using the Human Rights Council as a tool.

“We are aware that some of the countries which stood by Sri Lanka at this vote withstood immense pressure on them in doing so. We thank all countries who braved such adversity to reject the resolution. We are also mindful that some of Sri Lanka’s sincere friends were constrained to abstain. We thank them also for sharing with us their principled stands and remaining neutral,” Gunawardena added.

He added that despite the vote of this resolution against Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka will pursue its domestic mechanisms aimed at bringing about reconciliation and a lasting peace.

“Sri Lanka will continue to engage constructively with the UN and its agencies in the same spirit of cooperation that have stood for over six decades for the betterment of its people, including through the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, in keeping with domestic priorities and policies as well as international obligations and undertakings.”

(Source: Daily FT – By Chandani Kirinde)