What is the UNHRC’s mandate to decide Sri Lanka’s reforms?


Is there an available mechanism to question the transparency and legality in the manner the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) function with regard to Member States? Even though all UN members are said to be treated as equal, regardless of their size or political power, it is very clear that some members are treated differently, bordering on bias.

When considering Sri Lanka, It is noteworthy that the UN sat silent for three decades of bloodshed, and woke up only after the Sri Lankan Armed Forces eliminated the internationally banned terrorist movement, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). After waking up, the UN Secretary General arrived in the island just three days after ending the conflict, and mumbles about accountability. Thereafter, those that didn’t stop any civilians from getting bombed or killed by the LTTE for almost three decades began questioning the last three months of the conflict.

The investigations on the final three months of the conflict (March-May 2009) ended up with successive resolutions that covered nothing about the conflict, going on to pluck people from their graves who had nothing to do with the conflict, and questioning their deaths. Now, 13 years later, resolutions that were supposed to be about the outcome of the final months of the conflict, are on an anti-corruption initiative. Who is in control of the OHCHR/UNHRC and its mandate, or are they allowed to do as they like? Since when did the UNHRC get the mandate to decide Sri Lanka’s economic, Constitutional, and Parliamentary affairs?

In such a backdrop, the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL), instead of getting excited closer to every UNHRC session, should ask some fundamental questions from the OHCHR Head and the UNHRC.

1. The UNHRC Resolutions 2012, 2013, and 2014, culminating in the OHCHR investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL) was only about the conflict and accountability – if so, why are non-conflict-related items and issues being plugged into resolutions annually?
2. If UNHRC is taking up non-conflict-related issues in resolutions meant to only be about the final phase of the conflict, why are these not taken separately at the Universal Periodic Reviews?
Isn’t it possible that the UNHRC/OHCHR are now well-aware they do not have the evidence to pursue the initial allegations against Sri Lanka? Thus, to save face they are taking up topics that they can exert pressure on Sri Lanka.
If this is considered true, what Sri Lanka should be doing is to return to the initial allegations of war crimes, and disallow the propaganda machine to presume the Sri Lankan troops are guilty. Instead, the GoSL should demand the UNHRC to produce facts/figures and evidence – which we all know they cannot provide. Why is the OHCHR/UNHRC allowed to get away with lies? Sri Lanka must insist that for every allegation that was made, be it denial of food and essentials to indiscriminate bombings to killing people en masse, they produce evidence without simply making brushstroke statements and presenting our war heroes as some kind of mass-murderers.

It is the duty of the GoSL (whichever party comes to power) to defend the national army. Look how the US, NATO, the EU, the UK, and Israel are defending their armed forces even with evidence presented against them! Unlike these cases, there is no solid evidence that Sri Lanka’s armed forces committed any crimes, though there may have been some exclusive cases. After all, Indian peacekeepers, as alleged by the LTTE, had alleged raped 3,000 Tamil women during their three-year sojourn in Sri Lanka. Where was the UN/UNHRC/OHCHR to act against these alleged crimes by the Indian Army?

UNHRC resolutions are not binding to any nation, so who gave UNHRC the mandate to poke its nose into a country’s economic reforms, Parliamentary affairs, and Constitutional and legal amendments?


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