The consultative meeting was held at the UNHRC in Geneva from 2.00 to 4.00 pm yesterday (Mar. 09).
Asoka Jayawardana reports from Geneva that many members of diplomatic missions and INGO representatives participated in the event.
The meeting was chaired by the head of USA mission to UNHRC ambassador Eileen Donahoe.
In her opening remarks she said ” We believe the text is moderate, reasonable, balanced and constructive. We do see this text as a basis for further discussion, collaboration and refinement with our many partners. We would like to reiterate the fact that there is a lot of work to do and we reiterate our offer to continue working with the Government of Sri Lanka.”
“I would like to remind you that our resolution is not intended to condemn SL. Indeed, the resolution acknowledges the utility of the LLRC which has made many useful recommendations to the GoSL. But many international and domestic observers share our conclusion that the Government has not come up with a good plan for implementation or take needed steps to foster reconciliation post-war. We want countries of the world to encourage GoSL to take steps needed to ensure meaningful and national reconciliation after a long conflict – to reach out sincerely to the Tamil population and bring them back to live in SL and take meaningful steps towards accountability. ”
Although there was a heated exchange of words between ambassador Donahoe and Mr. Peiris over the time allocation for the Sri Lanka representative at the beginning of the meeting, Mr. Peiris was given ample time to present his arguments at the end.
Mr. Peiris, emphasizing that GoSL has already started to implement LLRC recommendations, elaborated further: “The government has broken up the recommendations into 4 main components and has appointed various committees to implant those recommendation.”
He mentioned the four categorists as recommendations that deal with national policy, recommendations that deal with final phase of the conflict, recommendations deal with national security concerns, recommendations deal with resettlement and development issues.
Mr. Peiris reiterated that a roadmap has been laid out within the four compartments of national policy, final phase, security concerns and reconciliation and questioned and asked what else could have been done in this regard.
Fourteen country representatives spoke endorsing the resolution while 10 spoke against.
While the EU and Australia endorsed, the NAM opposed the resolution.
The only African country who spoke was Zimbabwe and it stood solidly behind Mr. Peiris.
Cuba was the only Latin American country spoke and it too opposed the resolution.
Making the final remarks, the State Department Sri Lanka country director said that this resolution is being submitted in the spirit of friendship.
“The United States cared so much about people of Sri Lanka. We have talked to many concerned people in Sri Lanka and has obtained a realistic picture of the situation,” he said.
He said that USA has provided 30 million dollars by way of humanitarian assistance to Sri Lanka and since the end of the war has talked on the need for meaningful accountability.
He mentioned that even the interim recommendations of the LLRC have not been implemented and emphasized the need for a detail road map of implementation.