Geneva, May 25, 2009 — Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch today expressed “serious disappointment” today over a “toothless” draft resolution on Sri Lanka submitted today by Switzerland and other Western states for tomorrow’s U.N. Human Rights Council emergency session.
“This text is too little and, tragically for Sri Lanka’s innocent victims, far too late” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.
“Despite the call by U.N. rights officials for an international inquiry into possible war crimes, the proposal instead asks Sri Lanka to investigate itself — it’s a joke. The text deliberately omits any condemnation of the government for its actions, and even praises Sri Lanka for ‘cooperation’ with the UN, and for its “strengthening” of measures against discrimination, when the opposite is true. Finally, it’s not even drafted as a resolution, but as a lower-ranking ‘decision’.”
“The Swiss and E.U. sponsors are making a grave error by choosing ‘consensus’ over victims,” said Neuer. “When diplomats declare their willingness to water down a text to achieve consensus at the U.N. Human Rights Council, they effectively grant a veto to China, Saudi Arabia, and other serial abusers of human rights. Consensus at the council is purchased by moral indifference, and always means coming down on the side of the perpetrators — and never on the side of the victims.”
“If the E.U. in 2006 had gone ahead with their resolution at the council for Sri Lankan civilian victims, instead of pulling it under pressure, the world spotlight might have led to thousands of lives being saved today. It’s time for democracies to introduce serious resolutions, and even if they’re voted down, international attention will have been drawn.”