The draft resolution on Sri Lanka tabled by the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva has been prepared after “careful reflection and after extensive dialogue and bilateral engagement at the highest levels of the U.S. government,” the U.S. 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 it was an interference and did not help the cause of reconciliation. The Diaspora held that the resolution bailed out the government and fell short of giving any significant political powers to the Tamils of the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
In an informal consultation in Geneva on Thursday on the draft resolution promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka, U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N. Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe noted that three years since the end of the conflict, Sri Lanka must take concerted action on the ground to foster national reconciliation and accountability. “Time is slipping by for the people of Sri Lanka,” she said.
The resolution was put together after broad consultations with delegations from all regions, incorporated many helpful suggestions and was “moderate, reasonable, and balanced”, she said . “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, Ms. Donahoe said it was not a move to condemn Sri Lanka. She said it acknowledged the contributions of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, which had made many constructive recommendations to the Sri Lankan government. Many international and domestic observers shared the U.S. conclusion that the government had neither promulgated a credible action plan for implementation of those recommendations nor taken additional steps since the war to foster reconciliation she said.
Dismissing criticism by the Sri Lankan government, Ms. Donahoe said 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”.
She said that action in the Council reflected the international community's 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.
India is yet to publicly articulate if it has amended its stand on single country resolutions.
Keywords: Sri Lanka's human rights issue