The draft resolution on Sri Lanka tabled for consideration by the Human Rights Council at its 19th Session in Geneva was prepared after “careful reflection and after extensive dialogue and bilateral engagement at the highest levels of the U.S. government,” the United States has said.
The resolution has been roundly condemned by both the Sri Lankan government and the vocal Tamil Diaspora for different reasons. The government said that this was an unnecessary interference in its internal affairs, did not help the cause of reconciliation.
The Tamil Diaspora held that the resolution bails out the Sri Lankan government and fell short of any significant political powers to the Tamils of the Northern and Eastern provinces.
In an informal consultation on the draft resolution promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka, in Geneva on Thursday, the US Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe noted that three years since the end of the conflict Sri Lanka must take concerted actions on the ground to foster national reconciliation and accountability. “Time is slipping by for the people of Sri Lanka,” she said.
On the question as to why the resolution appears rather benign, she explained that it was put together after consulting broadly with delegations from all regions and incorporating many helpful suggestions. The resolution was “moderate, reasonable, and balanced.”
“We reiterate our long-expressed willingness to work in partnership with the government of Sri Lanka on this resolution, and on the broader issues of reconciliation and accountability,” she said.
Explaining the choice of words and the reasoning behind the resolution, she made it clear that this was not a move to condemn Sri Lanka. Noting that it acknowledges the contributions of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, which has made many constructive recommendations to the Sri Lankan government, she said that many international and domestic observers shared the conclusion of the United States that the government had not yet promulgated a credible action plan for implementing those recommendations, nor had it taken the additional needed steps since the war to foster national reconciliation.
Dismissing criticism levelled at it by the Sri Lankan government, Ms. Donahoe said that the intention of the U.S. was to encourage Sri Lanka to “take the steps needed to ensure meaningful and lasting national reconciliation after a long conflict, to reach out sincerely to the Tamil population and bring them back in to the national life of Sri Lanka, and to ensure accountability for actions taken during the war.”
On the general concern of the international community on the inordinate delay in any improvement on the ground, she said that action now in the Council reflected the international community’s ongoing interest in and support for action on the ground in Sri Lanka.
“Numerous international and domestic observers have echoed our concern that the government of Sri Lanka must now establish domestic processes that will sow the seeds of lasting peace on the ground. With this resolution, the countries of the world can extend their hand of cooperation to help all the people of Sri Lanka achieve that goal,” she said.