UNHRC 11th Special Session on Sri Lanka
Attempt to single out a small developing country

Statement by Ambassador Juan Antonio Fernandes Palacios,
 Permanent Representative of Cuba

At the outset allow me to extend my appreciation for the statement of the Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights of Sri Lanka, Hon. Mr. Mahinda Samarasinghe, whose presence in this special session evidences the constant will of Sri Lanka of exchanging with the international community, the importance Sri Lanka attaches to the Human Rights Council, of which it was a founding member, as well as the commitment of the country in this regard.

Let me also pay tribute to Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka, who I consider to be a tireless champion in defense of justice and principles in the framework of this Council. A prominent intellectual and patriot, for whom dialogue with others and honesty constitute basic premises when approaching any situation regarding human rights, no matter its complexity.

Mr. Chairman,

Cuba did not support the call for this special session.

We did not do it because we saw it as an attempt by some former colonial metropolises to single out and stigmatize a small developing country, victim of an internal conflict that has lasted for years and devastated the nation, reduced its possibilities for development and caused the death of thousands of people. A conflict that was not exempt from terrorist acts, that Cuba, a country that has been a victim of terrorism for more than 50 years, are condemnable from all points of view.

In addition to this, the process that led to the call for this special session brought about the reset of the tarnished methods and practices of the defenestrated Commission, which are incompatible with the new working culture that should be promoted by the Council on Human Rights.

The fact of not holding talks with everyone since the beginning about the call for a special session, double standards, pressures in Capitals to get a signature, the secrecy and lack of transparency, are some of the vices that we hope will not be repeated in the future when tackling complex situations that require sensitivity and constructive atmosphere.

Ensuring an approach based on good faith dialogue and cooperation, and not resorting to the old practices of imposition, selectivity and politicization, is vital for the success of the Human Rights Council. In fact, and I should say it clearly, the proponents of this special session imposed an approach of confrontation that has divided the Council, closing the door to other initiatives and proposals few days before the inauguration of the 11th regular session of the Council.

By the way, it has not escaped our attention the statement delivered by the Independent Expert on extreme poverty, who speaking apparently on behalf of all special procedures made a number of allegations. I wonder how such kind statements are drafted agreed, and if they are compatible with the Code of Conduct.

Mr. Chairman,

Cuba is a co-sponsor of draft resolution L.1, entitled "Assistance to Sri Lanka in the promotion and protection of human rights", submitted by Sri Lanka in an additional expression of openness, cooperation and commitment with the Human Rights Council.

L.1 document gets off the hackneyed path of cold, condemnatory and imposition-like languages, and goes through the path of good faith cooperation and full involvement of the concerned State, while not neglecting the main concerns on the situation in the country, which have been recognized by the Government itself.

L.1 document tackles, among other elements, the situation of the internally displaced persons and the need to provide assistance to the people affected by the conflict, including the access to basic rights such as food, sanitation, health care and safe drinking water. It also includes the rehabilitation of former child soldiers into society, the cooperation with the mechanisms of the United Nations and other international organizations, and the issue of a political solution of national reconciliation.

After more than 25 years of internal conflict, Sri Lanka needs the solidary support and cooperation of the international community to rebuilt its country and fight against poverty and underdevelopment. L.1 emphasizes on this aspect.

The difference between L.1 and L.2 is very simple. The first one is based on cooperation and constructive dialogue. It captures a comprehensive and cross-regional new vision on how this Council should operate. The second one is the same inquisitorial look of those that do not accept the new realities of the world in which we live. The decision is therefore very simple: either we go back to the past, or we better build all together a new vision of future.

Cuba invites all members of the Council, in particular developing and non-aligned countries, to unequivocally support L.1.

Mr. Chairman,

In order to conclude, let me reaffirm our conviction that the encouragement and development of a genuine international cooperation, based on the respect for the sovereign equality of all States and on the principles of universality, objectivity and non-selectivity, constitute the only possible way to effectively for progressing in the promotion and protection of all human rights for all.

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