The Human Rights Council today voted in favour of a motion criticising Sri Lanka’s shortcomings on accountability.

This is a very good start, but it is just a start. We need to keep up the pressure to make sure there is real change. The call for an independent international investigation remains, and will until it is answered.

Many of the nations that supported Sri Lanka in 2009, such as Nigeria, Cameroon, and India, have realised that they were lied to and today took the courageous step of supporting the resolution. We particularly thank them. The Government has tried to paint this issue as one of east vs west – whereas in reality it has been the Sri Lankan regime vs its own people. Today that was demonstrated, as nations from all over the world joined with Sri Lanka’s internal critics to tell the government it is wrong, and its policies are flawed.

The text of the resolution is below:

Human Rights Council 
Nineteenth session
Agenda item 2
Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner  for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the  High Commissioner and the Secretary-General
United States of America: resolution

19/2 Promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka

The Human Rights Council,

Guided by the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Human Rights and other relevant instruments,

Recalling Council resolutions 5/1 and 5/2 on institution building of the Human Rights Council,

Reaffirming that States must ensure that any measure taken to combat terrorism complies with their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, as applicable,

Taking note of the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission of Sri Lanka and its findings and recommendations, and acknowledging its possible contribution to the process of national reconciliation in Sri Lanka,

Welcoming the constructive recommendations contained in the Commission’s report, including the need to credibly investigate widespread allegations of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances, demilitarize the north of Sri Lanka, implement impartial land dispute resolution mechanisms, re-evaluate detention policies, strengthen formerly independent civil institutions, reach a political settlement on the devolution of power to the provinces, promote and protect the right of freedom of expression for all and enact rule of law reforms,

Noting with concern that the report does not adequately address serious allegations of violations of international law,

1. Calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the constructive recommendations made in the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission and to take all necessary additional steps to fulfil its relevant legal obligations and commitment to initiate credible and independent actions to ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans;

2. Requests the Government of Sri Lanka to present, as expeditiously as possible, a comprehensive action plan detailing the steps that the Government has taken and will take to implement the recommendations made in the Commission’s report, and also to address alleged violations of international law;

3. Encourages the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and relevant special procedures mandate holders to provide, in consultation with, and with the concurrence of, the Government of Sri Lanka, advice and technical assistance on implementing the above-mentioned steps;, and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to present a report on the provision of such assistance to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-second session.

Here is how the countries voted:

YES: 24

  • Benin
  • Cameroon
  • Libya
  • Mauritius
  • Nigeria
  • India
  • Chile
  • Costa Rica
  • Guatemala
  • Mexico
  • Peru
  • Uruguay
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Italy
  • Norway
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • USA
  • Czech Republic
  • Hungary
  • Poland
  • Moldova
  • Romania

NO: 15

  • Congo (Brazzaville)
  • Mauritania
  • Uganda
  • Bangladesh
  • China
  • Indonesia
  • Kuwait
  • Maldives
  • Philippines
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Thailand
  • Cuba
  • Ecuador
  • Russia

Abstain: 8

  • Angola
  • Botswana
  • Burkina Faso
  • Djibouti
  • Senegal
  • Jordan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Malaysia

There were 40 cosponsors of whom 13 are Human Rights Council members (in bold), they are:

Austria, Belgium, Cameroon, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada,
Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia,Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania,
Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, United Kingdom, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, Sweden.