Sri Lanka Rejects UN Human Rights Council’s External Evidence-Gathering Mechanism

Ambassador Himalee Arunatilaka, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva

Sri Lanka has once again refused to accept the external evidence-gathering mechanism established by UN Human Rights Council resolutions 46/1 and 51/1. The nation cites significant legal and political ramifications for all involved countries as the basis for its decision.

Ambassador Himalee Arunatilaka, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, addressed the ongoing 56th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, stating that this mechanism is counterproductive. “It serves only to divide and further polarize communities in Sri Lanka, offering no tangible benefits,” Arunatilaka said. She also highlighted that the mechanism undermines the commitment to domestic legal processes and is a drain on the limited resources of member states.

Arunatilaka emphasized the need for assessing global human rights situations with impartiality, non-selectivity, and objectivity, while avoiding double standards, in line with the founding principles of the UN Human Rights Council. “Sri Lanka strongly opposes arbitrary and unilateral actions that contravene these principles. Overstepping the mandate granted by Member States to the OHCHR and the politicization of issues could erode confidence in the OHCHR’s work,” she added.

Sri Lanka also acknowledged the progress reported by China during its recent 4th cycle Universal Periodic Review (UPR). “We recognize the substantial progress China has made in improving the lives of its people, which enhances their economic, social, civil, and political rights,” Arunatilaka noted.

Addressing the situation in Gaza, the ambassador expressed Sri Lanka’s deep concern over the significant loss of life and ongoing suffering, echoing sentiments shared by many delegations.

Highlighting the public trust in Sri Lanka’s Office on Missing Persons (OMP), Arunatilaka reported that 5,556 out of 6,025 complainants have appeared before the OMP. By April 2024, the OMP had traced 16 missing persons, confirming 11 as alive, one deceased, and four cases pending in court. Additionally, 1,709 families received Certificates of Absence (COA), with the validity extended until 2028. The OMP is collaborating with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for technical assistance in data collection, protection, management, and legal and forensic expertise.

Sri Lanka’s stance and ongoing efforts reflect its commitment to addressing domestic issues while engaging with international mechanisms selectively and critically.