Sri Lanka preempts emergency U.N. session with self-congratulatory resolution

Sri Lanka is not waiting quietly to be scrutinized by Monday’s emergency session of the U.N. Human Rights Council, which was initiated by Western states to address the dire situation of that country’s civilians. Today the Sri Lankan government made a bid to pre-empt and subvert the process by introducing its own resolution — one that praises its actions.

Entitled “Assistance to Sri Lanka in the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights,” Sri Lanka’s proposed text comes with the co-sponsorship of Indonesia, China, Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Bahrain, Philippines, Cuba, Egypt, Nicaragua, and Bolivia. Solid democracy defenders, all.

The resolution:

  • Reaffirms “the principle of non-interference in the matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of States”; (Ed. note: Funny, this principle never stopped Sri Lanka from voting for 26 UNHRC anti-Israel resolutions…)
  • Welcomes “the liberation by the Government of Sri Lanka of tens of thousands of its citizens that were kept by the LTTE against their will as hostages”;
  • “Commends the measures taken by the Government of Sri Lanka to address the urgent needs of the internally displaced persons”;
  • “Welcomes the continued cooperation between the Government of Sri Lanka and the relevant UN Agencies and other humanitarian organizations in the provision of humanitarian assistance to the affected people”; and
  • Calls on the international community to increase financial aid to Sri Lanka.

Procedurally, an interesting question arises. Section 117 (d) of the UNHRC’s Institution Building Package, a Chinese-sponsored rule pushed by Sri Lanka and its allies to better ensure their immunity, provides that country resolutions should preferably have the support of 15 council members before action is taken. Was Sri Lanka entitled to submit its proposal with only 13 backers?

More on the UNHRC Special Session on Sri Lanka; mandate for investigation of abuses unlikely

For more information on the issues surrounding the upcoming special session on Sri Lanka, see “Battle begins to establish UN Sri Lankan war crimes investigation,” The Times, May 21 (click here). The session was called by 17 of the 47 council members, including the 7 members of the European Union, along with Argentina, Bosnia, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Mauritius, South Korea, Switzerland, Ukraine and Uruguay.

These 17 countries hope to address the Sri Lankan government’s violations of humanitarian law, as well as the Tamil Tigers’ attacks on civilians and alleged use of human shields. The establishment of an inquiry commission to investigate human rights abuses in Sri Lanka, similar to the one for Gaza, is deemed highly unlikely. Sri Lanka is lobbying its allies against the efforts to condemn its government’s actions.

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