Statement of the Core Group for Sri Lanka:
Thank you Madam President
The United Kingdom has the honour to present draft resolution L.1 Rev 1 on behalf of a Core Group also comprising Canada, Germany, Malawi, Montenegro and North Macedonia.
This Council has sought to promote reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka for almost 10 years.
It was to Sri Lanka’s great credit that between 2015 and 2019, it agreed a consensual framework to address the legacy of several decades of devastating conflict.
The 2015 framework followed a detailed report by the High Commissioner for human rights which concluded that large-scale violations and abuses of human rights by all parties had occurred.
Sri Lanka’s commitments to the Council were ambitious. But these recognised that the only way to bring reconciliation, to heal the suffering of the many victims, and to avoid a recurrence of such violations, was to engage with the UN’s findings.
It was therefore a source of profound regret when Sri Lanka withdrew its support for the 2015 framework last year. Since then, the Core Group has encouraged a new cooperative framework with Sri Lanka, but unfortunately to no avail.
This resolution responds to the High Commissioner’s most recent report. It acknowledges progress where this has been made. It also reflects the High Commissioner’s findings that the human rights situation has deteriorated, with particular concerns for human rights defenders and civil society space, and members of different ethnic and religious communities including Tamils, Muslims and Christians. Independent institutions have been weakened and impunity has become more entrenched as progress in emblematic cases has stalled. Some of those who have sought to pursue justice and advance accountability through the national courts have found themselves persecuted and, in one case, imprisoned. While others who were convicted or suspected of large-scale violations have been pardoned and promoted.
this resolution and this Core Group is not anti-Sri Lanka. We are friends of Sri Lanka and its people. We bring this resolution in the hope that it will help advance the human rights of all communities including Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Sinhala or Tamil. And most importantly, that it will help prevent the recurrence of past grave violations which the High Commissioner’s report warns this Council about in such clear terms.
We regret that agreement could not be reached with Sri Lanka during the 4 informal meetings on the draft resolution but thank the distinguished Ambassador of Sri Lanka for his participation.
Nonetheless, we believe this constructive and balanced text provides the best framework to support justice and lasting reconciliation and address the most critical human rights challenges. We call on all members of the Council to support this resolution.