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46 countries favour Sri Lanka with positive remarks during OHCHR Interactive Dialogue

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In response to the Sri Lanka’s statement made by the UNHRC Permanent Representative Himalee Arunatilaka at the 54th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, 46 UNHRC Member countries including the European Union (EU), Australia, New Zealand, USA, Germany, and France spoke in favour of Sri Lanka with positive remarks during the Interactive Dialogue on OHCHR Report on Sri Lanka. Making a strong statement against the OHCHR’s ‘accountability mechanism’ Philippines called it ‘an expensive mandate worth 10 million US dollars to support a Geneva based team with an open-ended work timeframe’, that ´runs parallel to and divorced from functioning domestic processes´.

The European Union recognised ‘the challenges Sri Lanka has been facing due to the economic and financial crisis throughout last year’, and ´the positive course of action over the past months, leading the country towards economic stabilisation´. The EU also took note of ‘plans for reconciliation mechanisms, and the Sri Lankan President’s dialogue with Tamil political parties’, and encouraged the Government to ‘remain engaged with the UN and partners’.

New Zealand welcomed Sri Lanka’s ‘progress in stabilising its economy following the country’s acute economic crisis’, and acknowledged ´recent focus on reconciliation including the proposed establishment of a national unity and reconciliation Commission’.

Germany recognised ‘the burden the people of Sri Lanka are facing following the economic crisis’, and commended ´recent initiatives for dialogue´. Germany further took note of the ‘Sri Lankan President’s initiative to form a Truth-Finding Mechanism’.

France welcomed what the Government has done to restore the economy. The United States of America (USA) recognised that ‘Sri Lanka strengthened reforms including anti-corruption legislation’ and also welcomed the release on bail of over 100 individuals held without trial and on the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

Australia welcomed Sri Lanka’s commitment to replace the prevention of Terrorism Act’ and encouraged ‘broad stakeholder consultations to develop a replacement law’.

Syria stated that the Sri Lanka accountability project was initiated without the consent of, nor consultation with Sri Lanka, and affirmed that such acts are contrary to the Council’s founding principles of impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity and contravened the mandate of the Council.

Venezuela rejected the ‘so-called Sri Lanka accountability project’ which is an interventionist mechanism that ignored the internal process taking place in Sri Lanka and while the progress made by Sri Lanka in upholding human rights since restoring peace in 2009 has not been given a true value by the Council.

Pakistan expressed concerns over the imposition of external accountability measures that are inconsistent with the provisions of UN charter and UNGA resolution 60/251 and the IB package. Cuba stated that punitive mechanisms only give rise to politicisation and proliferation of double standards and do not contribute in any way to the promotion and protection of human rights.

China extended support to Sri Lanka in safeguarding national sovereignty, independence, social stability and promoting economic development and stated that Resolution 51/1 does not follow the principles of fairness and objectivity and non-selectivity and it did not have the approval of the country concerned.

Lao PDR was also of the view that ‘the imposition of country specific resolutions without the consent of the concerned country are counterproductive and against the principle of impartiality, objectivity and not selectivity’. Belarus said it was ‘concerned by the ongoing practice of pressurising Sri Lankan authorities by foisting on them non-consensual mechanisms’, and noted Sri Lanka’s continuing cooperation with a number of UN human rights mechanisms.

Eritrea mentioned that ‘mechanisms which lack the consent of the country concerned are counterproductive and going against the principle of genuine dialogue and cooperation in human rights.

Türkiye recognised the significant reforms by Sri Lanka in the economic sector and also in the areas of governance, the legal system and social welfare, including the steps taken to advance the reconciliation process, establishment of the constitutional council, adoption of the new anti-corruption law and developing anti-terrorism legislation, promotion of women’s rights and strengthening of accountability measures.

Oman, speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council noted in particular the all-party conferences convened in December 2022 and January 2023 by the Sri Lankan Government to promote reconciliation and accountability.

Maldives mentioned that ‘the support and cooperation of the international community is vital for Sri Lanka to overcome its current social and economic challenges’. The Russian Federation considered the practice of artificially stirring up excitement around the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, to be counterproductive.

Nepal appreciated the ´continuous engagement of Sri Lanka with the Human Rights Council, OHCHR and other human rights mechanisms´ and welcomed the positive initiatives, including ´Aswesuma´, launch of Sri Lanka National SDG dashboard, and passing of the 21st amendment to the Constitution in October 2022.

Japan acknowledged ‘the amendment to the prevention of Terrorism Act as an important initial step’. Japan also expressed support to Sri Lanka’s efforts to establish transnational justice mechanisms including the Truth and Reconciliation Commission´ and added that Japan would ´continue to support Sri Lanka on both the human rights and the economic fronts´.

Norway speaking on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries welcomed ‘the Government’s efforts to set up a Truth-seeking mechanism’.

Nigeria applauded the Government of Sri Lanka for its ‘resilience and determination to improve the socio-economic well-being of its people, as well as the initiatives put in place to subvert the adverse effects of the challenges encountered in the recent past.’

Uganda said it ‘specifically welcomes the efforts of the Office of the Missing Persons in helping families and victims trace their loved ones and find closure through reparations’.

Yemen commended the ‘positive cooperation shown by the Government of Sri Lanka´ and stressed the ‘importance of cooperation and coordination with the concerned country’.

Burundi noted that ‘Sri Lanka has managed to provide the stability of its democratic institutions’, and reiterated ‘the principles of sovereign equality of respect for territorial integrity and non-interference as enshrined in the UN charter should guide the work of this Council’.

India said that ‘as a close neighbour and friend of Sri Lanka, India has consistently supported Sri Lanka’s efforts towards the relief, rehabilitation, resettlement and reconstruction process in Sri Lanka since 2009’. Nicaragua reiterated the need for respect for the principle of equality and the principles in the United Nations Charter, namely not to interfere in matters that are under the domestic jurisdiction of states.

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