Minister Dinesh Gunawardena – What is your strategy to defend Sri Lanka & its Armed Forces in UNHRC?
The regime change in 2015 brought to power a treacherous team that co-sponsored an intrusive UNHRC Resolution though legally non-binding, agreeing to do changes to internal mechanisms advantageous to the sponsors of the Resolution, to Geneva UNHRC Office and the lobby groups funding the entire exercise. The traitors were democratically replaced by the People voting a nationalist government expecting them to UNDO the wrongs by the yahapalana government. Thus, it was welcome news that the new Government had informed Geneva that it rejected the co-sponsorship. This in turn, meant that the foreign ministry headed by Hon. Dinesh Gunawardena known as the son of the “Borulugoda Sinhaya (Lion)” Philip Gunawardena would not only devise a strategy to protect the national sovereignty of Sri Lanka but reinforce the integrity of the nation armed forces amongst the international community. We would like to know what the Foreign Ministry has strategized to meet these objectives.
Let’s remind Sri Lanka’ Foreign Ministry some basic facts
- The UNHRC is a body created by the UN General Assembly in 2006
- The UNHRC Resolutions are LEGALLY NON-BINDING (this means whether all countries vote against Sri Lanka – the Resolution is legally non-binding
- Though UNHRC Resolutions are LEGALLY NON-BINDING – if a country co-sponsors, consents to contents by its silence, or allows a consensual resolution to be passed, it only showcases the country’s admission of the contents in the resolutionwhile also agreeing to implement the recommendations. This means we turn a legally non-binding resolution into a binding one by co-sponsorship or consensual agreement.
- Co-sponsorship implies supporting the text – this is exactly what the yahapalana government did in 2015.
- Consensual virtually means the same as co-sponsorship, it means Sri Lanka is consenting to the text of the resolution drafted by UK-EU-Canada with background involvement of India. Sri Lanka must AVOID or PREVENT RESOLUTION being ADOPTED BY CONSENSUS
- If a Resolution commences with ‘Welcomes …..” and Sri Lanka either co-sponsors or consents, though the Resolution is legally non-binding, we are morally guilty of ‘welcoming’ the resolution and we would look rather silly internationally if we initially consent but then reverse our stand later. Sri Lanka naturally becomes a laughing stock internationally and no country will take us seriously. Therefore, the Foreign Minister and the Foreign Ministry must realize we are walking on a tight-rope and we must be cautious of every decision we take. We cannot act like headless chickens!
- The importance of going for a vote means that the Core Group has to defend their text. Sri Lanka CANNOT ASK FOR A VOTE as Sri Lanka is ONLY an OBSERVER STATE with NO VOTING RIGHTS. Sri Lanka as to REQUEST a Sri Lanka-friendly nation to REQUEST A VOTE
- Though annual Geneva Sessions have turned into a circus with side events, committee room meetings, drafts going back & forth – so much of effort inspite of resolutions being legally non-binding. The catch obviously is that the tamashas are a means to bully, propping weak governmenta delegations to agree to anything the co-sponsors or Core Group recommend even as a compromise. This is nothing other than daylight diplomatic bribery!
- The UNHRC Resolutions are only POLITICAL EXPRESSIONS of its sponsors
- EN BLOC sponsorships only mean POLITICAL BULLYING via UNHRC Resolutions
- That US-UK-EU-Canada have been co-sponsoring resolutions against Sri Lanka reveal these resolutions are in reality tied to recommendations advantageous to their geopolitical goals in the region.
- Has Sri Lanka considered appealing to the President of the UNHRC? (the present President is Nazhat Shameem. The President can counter a draft resolution whose content & formulation is considered unacceptable.Sri Lanka can highlight the illegality of using a personally commissioned non-UNGA non-UNSC non-UNHRC mandated report as basis for 3 successive resolutions against Sri Lanka leading to an UNHRC investigation that has put a 20year cap on identity of witnesses. These ‘invisible’ witnesses can only be cross examined after 20 years by which time some of the accused may even be no more, to be exonerated for crimes they were accused of but did not commit. All Sri Lankan citizens will not accept such injustice for our National Army because of procedural errors by UNHRC.
Steps Sri Lanka are aware of
- Resolutions can be drafted by HRC Members & Non-Members & they co-sign 1stdraft before tabling it. Others can co-sponsor by signing after it is tabled & after it is adopted. Only 47 HRC Members can adopt a HRC Resolution.
- Sri Lanka though an Observer State can submit a draft resolution & initiate process of adoption by making a statement to the plenary session.
- Sri Lanka is an Observer State and not entitled to Vote or Intervene in the context of the ADOPTION procedure (i.e amendments/request for a vote etc)
- But where Country-Specific Resolutions are concerned, an Observer State that is affected by the Resolution may take the floor & intervene at end of sessions. Sri Lanka has this option to correct all of the lies in the resolutions since 2015. Has Sri Lanka intervened & objected?
- The 47 HRC Members will express support (Show consensus) or vote ‘Yes’ if vote is taken or Members will abstain when vote is taken or members will disassociate from the draft resolution or even ask for a vote.
- This is the most crucial and poignant point. Given that the Resolution against Sri Lanka (only an Observer state with no voting right) no HRC Member will speak on behalf of Sri Lanka to seek a vote unless Sri Lanka requests a Sri Lanka-friendly country to do so.The protocol behind this is that these countries are simply respecting Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and respecting Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry/Govt decision vis a vis any Resolution by doing nothing against a resolution infringing on Sri Lanka’s sovereignty UNTIL & UNLESS Sri Lanka seeks their cooperation to go against it. This means in order to trigger a vote against the Core Group Resolution without allowing it to be ADOPTED with consensus (without objection) Sri Lanka MUST ask a Sri Lanka-Friendly Country to Seek a Vote on the entire Resolution or at least paragraphs of the Resolution.
- We know the countries that drafted resolutions against Sri Lanka since 2012.
- We know the countries that voted in favor of Sri Lanka since 2012
- We know the countries that voted against Sri Lanka since 2012
- We know the countries that abstained from voting yes/no since 2012.
- By now Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry should know who Sri Lanka’s ‘friends’ areand have engaged them diplomatically for their support knowing that their support is needed until these legally non-binding but politically intrusive UNHRC Resolutions are brought to a closure.
- The Question is – has Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry taken the extra mile to engage with special attention to the countries that have voted for Sri Lanka without demanding anything from Sri Lanka?
- Instead we find Sri Lanka going behind India who has either voted against Sri Lanka or abstained from voting and compromising national assets of Sri Lanka all for one vote. This is a ridiculous diplomatic bargaining option!
- The irony of the LEGALLY NON-BINDING HRC Resolutions are that en bloc groups gather to manipulate mandate of the UNHRC & its terms to INDUCE LEGISLATIVE CHANGES AT NATIONAL LEVEL – we saw the Resolutions asking Sri Lanka to implement 13a, change our penal code, remove the prevention of terrorism act and even make changes to Sri Lanka’ judiciary. These are all violations of the fundamental principles of the UN Charter. It is a surprise that Sri Lanka has not taken these up with the President of UNHRC.
- Country-specific resolutions are allowing bullying nations to interfere in the national affairs of weaker and vulnerable countries for their greater geopolitical advantage. Malawi is a MCC signed state and will do anything to please USA. North Macedonia, Montenegro are probably clueless about anything in Sri Lanka as they do not have an embassy in Colombo. LTTE lobby in UK and Canada naturally dictate decisions by their governments but UK Parliament saw just 10 MPs appearing to debate Sri Lanka, a big slap in the face to the tiger UK lobby.
- Joint Declarations is an option Sri Lanka must now seriously consider to bring this ridiculous country-specific wasting time Resolutions on Sri Lanka to a Closure.For this Sri Lanka must re-align itself to the Non-Aligned Movement which commands 70% presence (120 Members) in the UNGA & UNHRC. Sri Lanka must also know its arithmetic. The 47 member states are divided as 13 Members from African States / 13 Members from Asian State / 6 Members from East European states / 8 Members of Latin American & Caribbean states & 7 Members from Western European & Other states. It is some in these 7 countries causing all the mischief against countries they want to bully.
Sri Lanka suffered 30 years of terror
30 years of terror was brought to a close in 3 years not by UN/UNHRC or Diplomats but by our Armed Forces & the GoSL
Throughout 30 years scores of real civilians were targeted and killed by LTTE. Harping on a guestimate figure of 40,000 (which cannot be substantiated with even names of dead) while ignoring 7721 collateral dead given by the UN Country Team speaks volumes of bias by UNHRC. The former UNHRC Head who triggered the resolutions against Sri Lanka is now speaking at pro-LTTE events!
What is more important is that having ended 30 years of LTTE terror, saved 300,000 even at the cost of 7721 dead, Sri Lanka also gave a presidential pardon to 594 child soldiers considering them victims and resettled all of the IDPs within a short span of time when the UN and its entities are still struggling to settle MILLIONS of IDPs from illegal invasions and interventions.
In 12 years Sri Lanka has faced no LTTE terror, no LTTE assassinations and no LTTE suicide missions. UNHRC cannot demand justice for only one community ignoring justice to victims of LTTE. LTTE killed Sinhalese-Tamils-Muslims and even foreigners!
Sri Lanka must be judged against International humanitarian laws and not human rights which is the only mandate that the UNHRC has. International terrorism experts in IHL cleared Sri Lanka of any intentional IHL violations and these reports must be tabled with the Declaration of Closure.
Use the UNHRC for better human rights issues rather than as a witch hunt against Sri Lanka for ending terror.
Dinesh Gunawardena, the nationalist foreign minister, we expect this nationalist government to bring Geneva Resolutions to a Closure especially when these Resolutions are legally non-binding and we have no reason to be begging countries for their support in 2021 when they have a history of sponsoring the resolution or abstaining from voting for Sri Lanka. This category of countries are really no friends of Sri Lanka.
Minister Dinesh Gunawardena we expect your Ministry to defend Sri Lanka & the National Armed Forces – how you do it is not our concern, that it must be done without compromising our sovereignty or territorial integrity & national assets/resoruces is what all citizens now demand!
Shenali D Waduge