The United States on Wednesday (20), made a surprise move by removing itself from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) alleging that the international body was acting against Israel with regard to the conflict with Palestine.
The UNHRC has been a hot topic in Sri Lanka since 2009, and after allegations of human rights violations and war crimes gained momentum internationally.
Sri Lanka’s relationship with the UN has not been rosy ever since these allegations took centre stage in March each year during the UN Human Rights Council sessions. The manner in which Sri Lanka’s previous regime handled the situation in the international arena also did not go down well with the UN.
However, things changed when the new Government took over. In fact, Sri Lanka co-sponsored a fresh resolution along with the US in 2015.
The US pulling out of the Council is of significance to Sri Lanka mainly because it was one of the co-sponsors of the said resolution.
Co-Cabinet Spokesperson, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne opined that this development would be beneficial for Sri Lanka as it would reduce the pressure on Sri Lanka in terms of implementing its obligations to the UNHRC.
Sri Lanka should understand that the country is closing in on ten years of the end of the war during which it had made very little progress to address the grievances of those affected by the war.
In fact, both Governments had failed to bring about timely solutions for their issues. We are not talking about a political solution. We are only talking about duties expected of a responsible Government towards its own people. Nine years after, people still protest on the sides of the roads urging the Government to find their loved ones, to give back their lands, and help them get on with their lives.
The question of the validity of the resolution would not arise if the Government did its duties towards the affected people.
One may argue that there are some steps taken towards addressing some issues. But, most of these actions are moving at a sluggish pace. Take for example the issue of the missing persons. We now have an Office of the Missing Persons (OMP). But didn’t we have numerous Commissions appointed for the same issue before? How many times do these people have to go to Commissions to make their plea?
- Does Sri Lanka have to be pushed to look after its own citizens?
- Do Sri Lanka’s own citizens have to come to the roads and cry for help every time the sessions take place in Geneva?
- Shouldn’t the Government on its own come forward to help?
- Shouldn’t all political parties leave aside petty political differences and unite to help?
Unfortunately, even the basic need of a citizen has become so political that you forget that it is a basic need.
Sri Lanka does not need any international body or country to tell what it has to do. But what if it is not doing what it has to?
Someone has to show the way?
Regardless of the US pulling out, regardless of the pressure by the UN, Sri Lanka has to pull up its socks and work towards addressing the needs of the war affected people.