By C.V. Wigneswaran –
Sri Lanka’s withdrawal from co-sponsorship of UNHRC Resolutions 40/1, 34/1, and 30/1, is a disappointment to the Tamil people of the North-East and worldwide. However, this decision comes as no surprise. Minister Gunawardena’s announcement in Geneva yesterday closes a decade. For ten years, Sri Lanka regularly undertook obligations toward the international community—and with equal regularity, refused to honour them. In fact some of us objected to the American Representative to time being granted at the end of the first two years in the absence of any perceivable progress being made in the first lease granted.
Although Sri Lanka has fallen short of many obligations, its consistent refusal to establish any mechanism of accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide stands out most prominently. The Hon Minister Gunawardene who says “I would like to state with pride that since May 2009 not a bullet has been fired in the name of separatist terrorism in Sri Lanka” has not explained why the Draconian Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act of 1979 has still not been withdrawn.
Yesterday’s promise of a domestic Commission of Inquiry only repeats its narrative from 2010—a “new” Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission. Even if Sri Lanka honours this new pledge, the country will still make no progress in the decades to come to ascertain the Truth. These promises hold no value because there is no will on the part of successive Sinhala majority governments to bring out the Truth.
We urge the international community to respond adequately to this flouting of its collective will. The international community now has a duty to use its powers of universal jurisdiction to charge Sri Lankan personnel at the International Criminal Court or at any other venue competent to hear cases on crimes of such gravity.
We believe that Sri Lanka’s repeated violations of UN Resolutions, combined with its long record of state-sanctioned abuses against various sectors of the island’s population, justify reference to Article 6 of the UN Charter which states as follows – “A member of the United Nations who has persistently violated the principles contained in the present Charter may be expelled from the organisation by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council”.
We call on the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council, to review Sri Lanka’s membership in the United Nations.
Until today, Sri Lanka has failed the World. It is time now for the World to act.
Renunciation of a State’s obligations today, would be the death knell to the World body tomorrow!
*Justice C.V. Wigneswaran – Former Chief Minister, Northern Province and Secretary General Tamizh Makkal Kootanii