Thursday, March 21, 2013

UNHRC : Statements of some countries before vote

In a resolution (A/HRC/22/L.1/Rev1) on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka, adopted by a vote of 25 in favour, 13 against and 8 abstentions, the Council welcomes the report of the High Commissioner on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka; encourages the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations made in the report of the High Commissioner, and to cooperate with Special Procedures mandate holders and to respond formally to their outstanding requests, including by extending invitations and providing access. 
The Council also calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to conduct an independent and credible investigation into allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, as applicable; and requests the High Commissioner to present an oral update to the Council at its twenty-fourth session, and a comprehensive report followed by a discussion at the twenty-fifth session, on the implementation of the present resolution.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (26): Argentina, Austria, Benin, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Guatemala, Gabon,  India, Ireland, Italy, Libya, Montenegro, Peru, Poland, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Sierra Leone, Spain, Switzerland and United States.

Against (13): Congo, Ecuador, Indonesia, Kuwait, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Thailand, Uganda, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

Abstentions (8): Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya and Malaysia.

United States, introducing resolution L.1, encouraged Sri Lanka to take the necessary steps to ensure accountability and lasting peace following almost three decades of civil war.  The resolution welcomed important progress made by Sri Lanka but also recognized that much remained to be done.  The resolution also highlighted the constructive role of the Office of the High Commissioner and of special procedures’ mandate holders in providing technical assistance and advice, and encouraged Sri Lanka to cooperate these actors. 

Pakistan, speaking in a general comment, said that the delegation of Sri Lanka had briefed several delegations bilaterally and in regional groups and had explained in detail why it found the resolution unacceptable despite several revisions.  In draft resolution 22/L.1, Pakistan observed that the parameters had been shifted with the introduction of substantive elements and this was of concern, given that Sri Lanka was being asked in effect to implement the recommendations of the Office of the High Commissioner’s report with disregard to the on-going domestic reconciliation process.  The substantive amendments proposed by Pakistan and other delegations during informal sessions, intended to bring some semblance of balance to the text, had been disregarded.  Pakistan then called for a vote on the resolution.

speaking in a general comment, said that the resolution on Sri Lanka provided an opportunity to forge a way forward through national and inclusive reconciliation.  India noted with concern that Sri Lanka had not kept its 2009 commitments and called on Sri Lanka to move forward on its public commitments and to take measures to ensure accountability.  India had always been of the view that the end of the conflict in Sri Lanka had presented an opportunity to achieve a lasting peace.  Sri Lanka’s elections scheduled for 2013 were an opportunity for its people to exercise their electoral right in a free environment. 

Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union, in a general comment, said that the European Union fully supported all efforts to promote reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka.  The European Union noted that the main sponsor had reached out to the country concerned and had sought to address a number of its concerns.  Genuine reconciliation was essential and required justice and accountability for past events.  The European Union urged Sri Lanka to carry out independent, credible investigations of alleged violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law.   The European Union urged the Government to cooperate with the special procedures’ mandate holders and to respond to all outstanding requests.

Montenegro, speaking in a general comment, fully aligned itself with the resolution on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka, which it saw as a step towards achieving lasting peace.  Montenegro welcomed the improvements made by Sri Lanka and joined with other countries in encouraging the Sri Lankan Government to take additional steps towards the promotion of justice and the implementation of real reconciliation.  Justice would be essential if there was to be true reconciliation after a long and divisive civil war in the country. 

Switzerland, speaking in a general comment, welcomed the submission of the resolution on Sri Lanka and remained concerned about the human rights situation in the country.  Switzerland underlined the importance of dialogue and cooperation for the process of achieving reconciliation and encouraged Sri Lanka to enhance its cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner and with special procedures’ mandate holders.

Sierra Leone, speaking in a general comment, said that as a country that had witnessed a bloody and destructive 10-year civil war and from which it that had bounced back through genuine reconciliation and accountability, was compelled to support this resolution.  Sierra Leone considered it to be fair, balanced and designed to bring about accountability and reconciliation.  Sierra Leone was aware of the glaring fact that the only way to bring meaningful and sustainable reconciliation was through an end to impunity and through meaningful accountability.  This resolution did just that in a fair way.  Sierra Leone supported it and called on other States to do the same.

speaking in a general comment, said that it had followed with interest and concern the human rights situation in Sri Lanka and that it showed challenges and advancements since the end of the conflict in 2009.  The Sri Lankan Government had made significant progress in building infrastructure and resettling displaced persons.  Cooperation with the United Nations human rights’ mechanisms was a two-way street and Brazil encouraged the High Commissioner to act upon the invitation of the Government to visit the country.

Venezuela, speaking in a general comment, categorically rejected the selectivity and double standards which were increasingly used in the Council against the will of countries concerned, as had been the case with Sri Lanka.  The Council was turning a blind eye to the efforts that Sri Lanka was undertaking to improve the human rights situation.  Venezuela warned about the serious risks created by the interventionist approaches of certain Members of the Council and stated that would vote against the resolution.   

Ecuador, speaking in a general comment, said that it had always condemned violations of human rights anywhere in the world.  There should be no biased approach to specific countries nor should double standards be tolerated in the Council.  Sri Lanka was showing signs of political will to improve the human rights situation and, therefore, Ecuador would vote against the resolution on Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka, speaking as the concerned country, said that the draft resolution before the Council was premised upon resolution 19/2 of 2012 which was not recognised by Sri Lanka.  Despite its dissociation with that initiative, Sri Lanka had shown clear progress towards comprehensive reconciliation including by the preparation and implementation of the action plan called for by the resolution.  The draft resolution before the Council today was unacceptable to Sri Lanka.  The present draft moved dramatically away from the ambit and scope of previous resolution 19/2 and the preambular part of the text was highly intrusive, replete with misrepresentations and, in its overall scope, accentuated the negative and eliminated or was dismissive of the positive.  The tone set for the rest of the document was overwhelmingly pessimistic.  The paragraph dealing with progress achieved ignored many areas of clear progress.  It also sought to allege continuing reports of discrimination on grounds of religion or belief when this was manifestly not the case.  Sri Lanka’s constructive engagement through the Universal Periodic Review process had unfortunately been ignored. 

The operative paragraphs of the text showed they were based on a political process.  Sri Lanka noted that the report introduced new elements such as an international inquiry, incidentally first proposed by the Council in May 2009.  The reference to the Panel of Experts’ report set the dangerous precedent of introducing unsubstantiated reports.  Sri Lanka totally rejected attempts by the Office of the High Commissioner and others to introduce elements of the Panel of Experts’ report, which attempted to legitimize its recommendations and seek to impose them on Sri Lanka.  Why this preoccupation with Sri Lanka? Why the inordinate and disproportionate attention, despite so much progress in a relatively short period of time?  Given the background and anomalous nature of the text, many countries would naturally have concerns as it could establish a bad precedent.  Stakeholders may be forewarned that if the current tendency towards politicization continued the Council may face the fate of its predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights.  Rather than singled out, Sri Lanka should be encouraged in its current process of reconciliation.

speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it could not go along with the resolution on Sri Lanka because it believed that during this difficult transitional period Sri Lanka deserved support and assistance.  Sri Lanka should be allowed to spend its energy and resources on the implementation of its National Action Plan.  The adoption of Sri Lanka’s Universal Periodic Review last week demonstrated the country’s engagement with United Nations’ mechanisms. 

Thailand, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it remained concerned about the draft resolution on Sri Lanka and would vote against it.  The resolution did not take into account the continuing progress which Sri Lanka was making in the implementation of recommendations.  Thailand urged Sri Lanka to continue to ensure accountability and to combat impunity, but recognized that the process would take time.

Republic of Korea, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, noted with appreciation the efforts and the achievements made by Sri Lanka in rebuilding infrastructure, demining, and rehabilitating child soldiers.  Republic of Korea understood the importance of accountability for genuine reconciliation and the considerable difficulties faced in the process of ensuring it. The Republic of Korea would vote in favour of this resolution.

speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it attached utmost importance to the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms.  Japan welcomed certain progress in rebuilding infrastructure and resettlement of internally displaced persons.  However many challenges remained.  Japan encouraged Sri Lanka to make the utmost efforts to continue to cooperate with the international community.  It would abstain from the vote on the resolution.

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