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Monday, October 2, 2023

Sri Lanka: Setting unrealistic expectations re accountability could ultimately prove counterproductive

Image: UNHRC at night ©s.deshapriya.

Taylor Dibbert.
Sri Lanka’s compliance with an October 2015 UN Human Rights Council resolution is being hotly debated at the Council’s 34th session, which began in late February and will run through March 24. At this point, it looks as though another resolution on Sri Lanka will be passed later this month and that the Sri Lankan government will support such an initiative.

While some people appear to be in favor of another resolution on Sri Lanka, others (for various reasons) are not. For example, some have argued that what’s really needed now is for the UN Security Council to refer Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

It’s true that the Sri Lankan government has failed to implement a resolution it cosponsored. It’s also true that the passage of another resolution would not guarantee Colombo’s compliance. Indeed, the administration of President Maithripala Sirisena has looked increasingly insincere about transitional justice in recent times. More specifically, the notion that Colombo might ensure that there’s accountability for abuses which occurred during the end of the nation’s brutal civil war looks ever more unlikely. That’s probably not going to change, irrespective of what transpires later this month in Geneva. But, frankly, genuine accountability in the near-term has always been a long shot.

Moreover, an ICC referral simply is not going to happen any time soon and it’s something that may not ever happen. To be clear, the victims of the island’s civil war, especially those in the Tamil community, deserve answers and deserve justice. And, the calls for accountability can and must continue. There’s no question about any of that.

Nonetheless, setting unrealistic expectations at this juncture could ultimately prove counterproductive.

(Original caption: Speaking Frankly About Sri Lanka and Accountability.)

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