Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka

Year

2021

UN Body

Human Rights Council

Session

46

Session Type

HRC Regular

Agenda Item

2

Country Concerned

Sri Lanka

Condemnatory

Yes

Analysis

  • The resolution contains both praise and criticism for the government of Sri Lanka. The criticism is mild in comparison to other resolutions (Syria, North Korea, Belarus), but is clearly directed at the government. The resolution “expresses serious concern” about the "accelerated militarization of civilian government functions," "erosion of independence of the judiciary” and other violations such as arbitrary detentions and torture. The resolution also calls for enhanced monitoring by the Office of the High Commissioner.
  • The adoption under Item 2 rather than Item 4 indicates ambiguity as to whether the resolution is condemnatory. However, this is clarified by the country statements of the UK, as the main sponsor, and Sri Lanka, which strongly opposed the resolution and called for a vote.
  • In its statement, the UK explained that until 2019, Sri Lanka had “agreed to a consensual framework” to address the situation in the country, but that Sri Lanka had “regrettably” withdrawn its support for that framework last year and “agreement could not be reached with Sri Lanka” on this year’s text. While the UK emphasized that the “core group is not anti-Sri Lanka,” Sri Lanka’s strong objection to the resolution supports the conclusion that the resolution is condemnatory.

Main Sponsors

Canada, Germany, Malawi, Montenegro, Macedonia, United Kingdom

Vote

Yes - 22, No - 11, Abstain - 14

Key Praise

None

Key Criticism

  • "Stresses the importance of a comprehensive accountability process for all violations and abuses of human rights committed in Sri Lankaby all parties, including those abuses by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam..."
  • "Notes the persistent lack of accountability of domestic mechanisms, that the domestic commission of inquiry announced on 22 January 2021 lacks independence and that its mandate is to review reports of previous commissions and committees..."
  • "Expresses serious concern at the trends emerging over the past year, which represent a clear early warning sign of a deteriorating situation of human rights in Sri Lanka, including the accelerating militarization of civilian government functions..."
  • "Also calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure the effective and independent functioning of the Human Rights Commissionof Sri Lanka..."
  • "Further calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to protect civil society actors, including human rights defenders, to investigate any attacks and to ensure a safe and enabling environment in which civil society can operate..."
  • "Requests the Office of the High Commissioner to enhance its monitoring and reporting on the situation of human rights in Sri Lanka, including on progress in reconciliation and accountability..."

Full Vote

  • Yes22

    • Argentina
    • Armenia
    • Austria
    • Bahamas
    • Brazil
    • Bulgaria
    • Ivory Coast
    • Czech Republic
    • Denmark
    • Fiji
    • France
    • Germany
    • Italy
    • Malawi
    • Marshall Islands
    • Mexico
    • Netherlands
    • Poland
    • South Korea
    • Ukraine
    • United Kingdom
    • Uruguay
  • No11

    • Bangladesh
    • Bolivia
    • China
    • Cuba
    • Eritrea
    • Pakistan
    • Philippines
    • Russia
    • Somalia
    • Uzbekistan
    • Venezuela
  • Abstain14

    • Bahrain
    • Burkina Faso
    • Cameroon
    • Gabon
    • India
    • Indonesia
    • Japan
    • Libya
    • Mauritania
    • Namibia
    • Nepal
    • Senegal
    • Sudan
    • Togo