|Monday, 03 October 2011 11:29|
Note on the Diplomatic Briefing by Hon M/EA on 29th September 2011
1. Hon. M/EA briefed the diplomatic corps on the developments in New York during the H.E the President’s visit for the 66th session of the UNGA and the ongoing HRC session In Geneva.
2. Hon. Minister stated that H.E the President and himself had wide ranging interaction in New York with 32 delegations. In addition he participated at the Commonwealth Foreign Ministers’ meeting and presided over the G 15 Ministerial meetings with Hon. Sajin Vass Gunawardena, Monitoring Member of Parliament for External Affairs having attended the SAARC informal ministerial meeting. H.E the President was also interviewed by the Wall Street Journal and Economist, while Hon M/EA interacted with the Associated Press. The Hon. M/EA also referred to the bilateral meeting he had in Geneva with the President of the Human Rights Council and the engagements with members of the Human Rights Council.3. Hon. M/EA observed that the New York events was overshadowed on learning that the report of the Panel of
Experts had been transmitted to the President of the Human Rights Council, the UN Commissioner for Human Rights Ms., Navaneethan Pillai and UNDP Administrator. He elucidated that the GoSL had no intimation of this decision prior to its implementation. However, the information on the dispatch of the Report to the HRC was known to a delegation representing a group of countries when they announced this information, which had been confirmed by the UN Commissioner for Human Rights.
4. The Minister charged that Sri Lanka had been kept in the dark and that PRUN New York had been immediately requested to ascertain position and he had been informed by the UN that this was not the case. The UNSG had also said that he did not advocate a particular course of action and admitted that there was a lapse in communication. Hon. MEA further said that the Darusman Report clearly states that there recommendation should be sent to HRC which exactly has happened. It would be quite wrong for panel members to suggest the course of action that the SG should take.
5. The Minister opined that the mode of handling the issue was incompatible with the UN practice. In fact the transmission of the same in this manner was unacceptable. He stated that this transmission was a breach of promise by SGUN, and the said promise was not only to Sri Lanka but even to others in the international community, who were ready to stand in evidence. When the issue was taken up with SGUN he surmised that there was a lapse on their part but quick to ensure that no action had been prescribed on his part. The Minister referred to the fact that the POE report states that the Report be sent to Geneva, which is exceedingly strange since it is an advisory document.
6. Hon. M/EA also said that it has come to his notice that Canada had proposed a resolution at HRC for calling on Sri Lanka to have Interactive Dialogue on LLRC in the March 2012 session. HON M/EA stated that this request to have discussion in March 2012 on a document which does not exist was most unreasonable. The entire hypothesis was a gross abuse of the HRC process. The position of Sri Lanka on these issues has been that it would be wrong for the document to be taken up in the HRC. There should not be any pre-judgment. It is vitally important that the structures and procedures of multilateral organizations remain consistent and devoid of discrimination.
7. Further he observed that the disturbing aspects of the Canadian initiative would be to give up the stability, precision and predictability of standard procedures of the HRC to cynical direction of selective and subjective action. Abandoning rock solid rules of procedure would have bearing not only on Sri Lanka but affect other countries and urged that “ad hoc measures” for political reasons should be avoided in the HRC as such collusive environment pollutes the integrity of the system. Many countries after being informed about the situation, acknowledged the danger in allowing action on a domestic process which is yet to see the light of day, he added. Referring to the bilateral meeting Hon. M/EA had with Canadian FM the latter informed formally the postponement of his country‘s action in the HRC.
7. Hon. MEA said that H.E the President’s address to UNGA was very specific with regard to GoSL’s post conflict achievements; 669 Tamil police officer and 1143 Tamil public officers have been appointed in the Northern Province; 99% of the IDPS have been resettled. Further delegations have been briefed on reintegration of ex-combatants into society, conclusion of local government elections in the Northern Province, 22% and 8.2% annual economic growth rate achieved respectively in the North and island wide due to the revival of fisheries and agriculture sectors, commencement of talks with the TNA and other Tamil political parties, and the conducting of a census island wide.
8. Hon. MEA asserted that the intensity of pressure beyond a point by outside forces would be counterproductive to the domestic procedure given the time and space to resolve matters needed to continue on the path that GoSL has followed so far. He further said once the LLRC report is released, GoSL will then identify the recommendations of their report and act accordingly.
9. Thereafter Hon. M/EA briefed the diplomatic community on the discussion he had at the Commonwealth Foreign Minister’s meeting and the developments on the forthcoming Commonwealth Leaders summit in Perth. He stated that at the meeting in New York, the agenda for the Commonwealth meeting in Perth in October, the Report of the Eminent Persons’ Group (EPG), and the report of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) were discussed.
10. The CMAG report has suggested “open ended discretion” for CMAG to take action against members, whereas at present it can only take action in the case of an overthrow of a democratically elected government. The CMAG report has said that this is too narrow and has asked for its mandate to be expanded to include “serious and persistent violation of human rights”, whereas, the EPG report had suggested to entrust this role to a Commissioner for Democracy, Human Rights and Rule of Law.
11. Hon. M/EA stated that if passed, these revisions would have serious and grave consequences. Briefing on the stance taken by Sri Lanka at the meeting on the suggested reforms, the Minister stated the following:
Hon. M/EA further stated that every Foreign Minister who spoke other than for 3 or 4, were against these suggestions. The reforms suggested were not a reflection of the Commonwealth, as the majority of the members did not find them attractive.
Sri Lanka had further put forward the following points: