UNHRC Resolution vote likely on 22nd

• Unless country interventions drag on

• Hope India too will support: Dinesh

By Lahiru Pothmulla

The vote on the Resolution of the United Nations (UN) Core Group of Countries on Sri Lanka to be tabled at the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland, tomorrow (22), is likely to be taken up on the same day.

The Core Group comprises the UK, Germany, Canada, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Malawi.

Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said that the vote could be pushed to Tuesday (23) if it takes time for the countries to make interventions during the debates.

“There are about nine resolutions against some other countries as well to be tabled on 22 March. They will be taken up one by one, and during the debates, many countries will also speak. Therefore, it may take some time. Ideally, the vote could be held on 22 March night, but it will depend on the debates,” he told The Sunday Morning.

The Minister reiterated that Sri Lanka rejects the said Resolution. “Our position is that we reject it, and all our friendly countries have also taken that position,” he said.

When asked whether the number of member countries supporting Sri Lanka at the UNHRC has increased, Minister Gunawardena said that most of the countries are still in the process of consulting their capitals and getting back to Geneva, because there is no physical presence in Geneva owing to the Session being held virtually in lieu of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“For the first time in history, the Session is being held as a virtual one. So the process is taking time. Even on 19 March, we were in contact with our Ambassador in Geneva. Some of the ambassadors are still seeking their capitals’ advice,” he said on Friday (19).

When questioned as to whether India will back Sri Lanka, he said: “We expect all our friendly countries to vote with us, especially the Asian countries. We have taken all attempts to defeat the Resolution. We have made an appeal to the Council, and we know that we have a lot of support, which can be described as fairly strong support.”

Meanwhile, responding to a question raised by journalists at the Foreign Ministry on Friday, Minister Gunawardena reiterated that the allegations made against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC are politically biased.

The Minister pointed out that it is not the responsibility of an internationally recognised Council to accuse or take a vote on the internal affairs of a country.

“Over the years, various allegations have been levelled against our country, alleging human rights abuses. We have been cautious about this. After our Government was elected, a Presidential Commission of Inquiry was appointed to investigate human rights allegations. Funds have been allocated from the Budget to activate the Office on Missing Persons.

“While the present Government is taking a number of such positive steps, it is not fair to ignore them and accuse us repeatedly in various ways at the Council. We try to defeat the false accusations levelled against us. Many friendly countries have joined hands with us in this. We hope that India too, will support us this time,” said Gunawardena.