UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Can Now Visit Sri Lanka With Authority

UN (OCHCR)      The report (A/HRC/22/38/Add.1) of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, on advice and technical assistance for Sri Lanka, dated 11 February 2013, was widely appreciated. But many never realized that this report was the outcome of the Resolution passed on Sri Lanka in March 2012.

In other words, without that resolution, the HCHR wouldn’t have had the authority to issue a special report on Sri Lanka.

The resolution gives monitoring powers to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – OHCHR. An external mechanism is mandated to monitor the Government of Sri Lanka!

With this resolution, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights – HCHR can insist that a team from her office be allowed into Sri Lanka.

The OHCHR has the right to have many human rights officers in Colombo, for monitoring future violations.

This resolution allows the HCHR to visit Sri Lanka with authority, not once, but as many times as she likes. Therefore, ironically, Sri Lanka’s fervent wish that she visit the country will be accomplished at the earliest. Though it will be to scrutinise Sri Lanka’s human Rights record – rather than bolster its human rights image, as the government had wanted.

The visit of the UN HCHR to Sri Lanka in the near future will be completely different to the visit made by her predecessor, Louis Arbour, which was in response to an invitation that was not backed by any UN resolution.

If Sri Lanka says to the HCHR that she cannot visit and monitor, this will be clearly interpreted as bad faith.Iimpractical issues to be included in the resolution in the UN Human Rights Council – HRC.Reference to International investigations can be included in the HRC resolution. The HRC is not the right forum for any country resolutions on these issues.

For these issues to be incorporated into a UN resolution, either the particular demands should be made to the UN General Assembly – UNGA or to the UN Security Council – UNSC in New York.

The Sri Lanka envoy to the HRC rejected the resolution A/HRC/CC/L.1,Rev1 on Sri Lanka  outright, condemning it as “highly intrusive.” He claimed that the government had “rehabilitated 12,000” Tamil detainees and that the Northern Province had experienced 27 per cent economic growth last year.

Sri Lanka envoy did not speak about those who surrendered to the security forces in May 2009. The HRC resolution is actively endorsed, guaranteed, by the international community.

Future sessions

As far as the question of Sri Lanka is concerned, this will be a session with a few interventions by NGOs and maybe by some states.

The 24th session will start on 9 September and conclude on 27 September. The most import session will be 25th session in March 2014.

When the 1st resolution was passed on Sri Lanka, Champions of human wrongs – China, Cuba and Russia were all members.

The international community wrongly perceives that any government other than the present one in Sri Lanka may agree on accountability and reconciliation.

Sri Lanka is waiting for a change of government in US and the end of term of the present High Commissioner for Human Rights, which is due in September 2014.

R2P – Responsibility to Protect was originated by the Canadian government through the creation of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS). This commission also included members from the UN General Assembly. R2P triggered the military action to protect civilians. Directly or indirectly, sooner or later, the resolution on Sri Lanka will be connected to R2P.

Under R2P, sovereignty no longer exclusively protects states from foreign interference.

1 –       A state has a responsibility to protect is population.

2 –      The international community has a responsibility to assist a particular state to fulfill its responsibility.

3 –      If a state fails to protect its citizens, the international community has the responsibility to intervene

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