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1. Why was Sri Lanka unable to defeat the resolution brought against it at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) last Thursday? Was it because India turned against Sri Lanka due to domestic compulsions or were there other factors at play?

The Indian decision to vote against us, and also to indicate early that this might happen, was crucial, but I think we were facing an uphill battle anyway, given the pressures the UN and the EU together were bringing on other countries. We could have done more earlier on to work with those countries on other issues, to strengthen relations.

  1. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) views the resolution as the first step in the pursuit of justice and accountability; and Amnesty International (AI) says that it represents a positive step forward for Sri Lanka and an opportunity to end “long-standing immunity for human rights violations.” Your reaction?

I think it could be used as an opportunity if we realize that we have to do better both on making clear what we are already doing with regard to the reconciliation process, which is not simply about accountability in terms of retribution as some elements are suggesting; and also on moving more quickly on all elements of the Reconciliation process, as laid out in the LLRC as well as in our draft Reconciliation Policy, which refers to restoration and empowerment as well as restitution.

  1. There is criticism that the Sri Lankan delegation, despite its strength in numbers, was not adequately prepared for the 19th session. Do you agree?

I think the people who went did their best, but I think they too realized that preparation has to begin much earlier, and be based on a coherent long term policy, that takes into consideration their concerns too, which was how Dayan Jayatilleka did so well in 2009. The policy we must work towards now should include restoring the mutual confidence we had with India a couple of years back, and also strengthening our ties with members of the Non-Aligned Movement.

  1. Now that the resolution has been adopted, what are its practical implications?

Since, unusually for the UN system, a country specific resolution that goes into the past has been passed, we need to make sure first that it is not used for unwarranted and disruptive interference, and secondly that it is not used as an excuse for a harsher resolution in the future, that would excuse more active interference. Read the rest of this entry »

Rajiva Wijesinha

March 2012
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