Saturday, 23 June 2018 12:56

22.06.2018 - US Pullout From UNHRC Must Have No Bearing On Sri Lanka's Commitments

The departure of the United States from the UN Human Rights Council is a regrettable blow to a global institution which has been mandated to protect and uphold human rights throughout the world including Sri Lanka. In 2015, Sri Lanka together with the US and several other member countries of the UNHRC, co-sponsored a resolution that called upon Sri Lanka to enter into a process of transitional justice. Despite the US pullout from the UNHRC, the US embassy in Sri Lanka has assured that it will continue to assist Sri Lanka to fulfil its international commitments to advance the cause of reconciliation and lasting peace for all Sri Lankans.

The National Peace Council notes that the government has been steadily returning military-occupied land to the civilian population, providing housing and livelihood assistance to war victims, rehabilitating ex-LTTE cadres, and has recently passed a law that criminalises enforced disappearances, set up an Office of Missing Persons, and is in the process of establishing an Office of Reparations. The US departure from the UNHRC may weaken that global institution, but it must not weaken our own commitment to ensure the protection of human rights and achieve reconciliation within our own country. The US action should not be seen as an opportunity to evade our commitments or a lessening of international pressure on Sri Lanka to do what it ought to do.

NPC calls on the government to be steadfast in also holding to its remaining commitments made in the UNHRC resolution, which include reducing the military presence in the former war zones of the north and east, and engaging in constitutional reform that would devolve more power to those areas. We also call on the government to be more focused, and of one mind, in communicating the truths about the need for reform and for change to the larger population so that they understand them to be part of the process of national integration and unification of hearts and minds in the aftermath of decades of war and conflict.