Wartime FM urges govt to renounce Geneva Resolution



By Shamindra Ferdinando

Eastern Province Governor Rohitha Bogollagama yesterday said that Sri Lanka should ‘totally and unilaterally renounce’ the controversial Geneva Resolution 30/1 on accountability issues.

Bogollagama said the government should review its stand on the non-binding resolution in the wake of the US quitting the 47-member Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

The EP Governor, who was wartime Foreign Minister (January 2007 to April 2010) emphasised that there couldn’t be any justification for expecting Sri Lanka to continue with the Geneva process after the very country that spearheaded a high profile project leading to the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government co-sponsoring the resolution against our country had quit the Geneva body.

The US represents the group comprising Western European and Other States in the UNHRC divided into five zonal groups. The US term was scheduled to end in 2019.

Referring to the US quitting the UNHRC over the latter’s alleged unfair treatment of Israel, Bogollagama said that the US had taken diverse country-centric positions on accountability issues.

Bogollagama succeeded Mangala Samaraweera at the onset of the Eelam War IV.

Responding to another query, the EP Governor regretted that the US had become a key party in sponsoring a resolution on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations pertaining to counter-terrorism methods adopted to bring the conflict to a successful conclusion in May 2009.

The resolution recommended a hybrid judicial mechanism, comprising local and foreign judges, lawyers and prosecutors.

Bogollagama recalled how ‘certain interested countries’ had ganged up against Sri Lanka, exploited the mechanisms available at the UNHRC to prepare a case against post-war Sri Lanka. They had pursued a deliberate strategy meant to isolate the country at various forums, the former minister said.

Bogollagama said that no less a person than US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley called the Geneva body a ‘cesspool of political bias’. The former Foreign Minister said Haley seemed to have echoed Sri Lanka.

Outgoing US Ambassador Atul Keshap has told Sri Lanka that regardless of the US move in Geneva, it would continue the project here. The US embassy reminded the government that Sri Lanka had co-sponsored the two UN Human Rights Commission Resolutions: 30/1 in 2015 and Resolution 34/1 in 2017, and the United States continued to extend its support to Sri Lanka to fulfill these important commitments and obligations as articulated and reaffirmed in these resolutions.

Now that the US had quit the Geneva body, reappraisal of Sri Lanka’s stand as regards resolution 30/1 was needed, Bogollagama said, asserting the UN owed an explanation without delay.

Bogollagama described the decision to co-sponsor the US-led resolution a rather unwise move on the part of the current administration.

The EP Governor explained measures taken by the government since the last presidential election in January 2015 to address international concerns as regards human rights.

Bogollagama’s successor Prof. G.L. Peiris on Wednesday (June 20) told The Island the US had inadvertently commented on its own strategy when quitting the Geneva body. He said the UNHRC had never been called a cesspool of political bias though various governments had been critical of the organisation over the years.

The UN transformed the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to United Nations Human Rights Council in March 2006 in the run-up to the Eelam War IV. Large scale fighting erupted in August 2006.

Bogollagama pointed out that the UN hadn’t taken into consideration post-Oct 2015 developments, particularly the revelation made by Lord Naseby in the House of Lords in Oct 2017.

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