UNHRC adopts draft resolution on Sri Lanka

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The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Tuesday adopted the draft resolution against Sri Lanka tabled at council by the Core Group.

The vote on draft resolution L1/Rev.1 titled “Promoting Reconciliation, Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka” concluded, a short while ago, and was carried out via electronic voting during the meeting of the 46th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council.

Of the 47 states that took part in the vote in Geneva, 22 member states voted in favour of the resolution while 11 had voted against. 

Meanwhile a total of fourteen (14) member states abstained from voting.

Member states that voted in favour:

Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Bahamas, Brazil, Bulgaria, Ivory Coast, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, France, Germany, Italy, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Republic of Korea, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Uruguay.

Member states that voted against: 

Bangladesh, Bolivia, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Pakistan, Philippines, Russian Federation, Somalia, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.  

Member states that abstained: 

Bahrain, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Japan, Libya, Mauritania, Namibia, Nepal, Senegal, Sudan and Togo.

The vote on the draft resolution titled ‘Promotion of Reconciliation Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka’ was initially expected to be taken on Monday (22) but officials in Geneva said it has been postponed to Tuesday owing to some scheduling issues.

On Friday, the final form of the Sri Lanka draft resolution was submitted, with the voting likely to be held on March 22-23.

The draft resolution, sponsored by United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Malawi, Montenegro, North Macedonia, was formally submitted on March 12. The zero draft which had earlier been circulated was further strengthened during the consultations between the member states.

The changes in the final version inserts language calling on Sri Lanka to fulfill its commitment on devolution, including the holding of provincial council elections.

The draft resolution also calls upon Colombo to ensure that “all provincial councils, including the Northern and Eastern Provincial Councils, are able to operate effectively, in accordance with the thirteenth amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka”.

The UNHRC draft resolution noted the “persistent lack of accountability of domestic mechanisms” and calls to support trials in foreign countries. It also calls for strengthening the office of the UN human rights chief in collecting and preserving evidence related to human rights violations in Sri Lanka, to use them in future accountability processes.

The draft has been revised to state that Sri Lanka would be on UNHRC’s agenda every six months till September 2022. It also asks the UN Human Rights chief to give an oral update on Sri Lankan in September 2021 and then a written report in March 2022.