By Dayan Jayatilleka –
It is almost a crime to lie to the people and mislead them on a matter of vital national interest. When it is committed by politicians it is an act of unconscionable opportunism. When it is perpetrated by so-called intellectuals belonging to civil society, it is a counterfeiting of the currency of the intellect and the function of the educated, which is to educate the public.
One of the rankest untruths in the public domain today is that the US resolution is innocuous and unobjectionable because it only seeks to commit the government of Sri Lanka to implement its own LLRC report within a reasonable time frame. This untruth is perpetrated by the dominant elements of the UNP, the TNA and the civil society commentariat.
The utter falsehood of this assertion is instantly provable by a mere glance at the Resolution itself. Far from limiting itself to the harmless and arguably even constructive pursuit of merely seeking the implementation of the LLRC’s recommendations, the Resolution actually criticises the LLRC. The fifth and final paragraph of the preamble of the US Resolution, immediately preceding its operative clauses, reads: “Noting with concern that the LLRC report does not adequately address serious allegations of violations of international law…”
It is nothing short of disgusting that this sentence, in plain view in the text, is being hidden by pro-US resolution politicians and opinion-makers. It is one thing to be a critic, however harsh, of the government, quite another to be a supporter of the US Resolution and worse still, to brush under the rug that which is quite overt in the Resolution itself.
The Resolution’s criticism of the LLRC report is itself an untruth. That report not only earmarks issues of accountability which it states should be addressed by the government of Sri Lanka, it contains an impressively thick and closely argued chapter precisely on international law issues pertaining to the conflict. Given that one of the LLRC report’s authors is the former Chairperson of the UN Ad Hoc Committee on Terrorism and a former member of the International Law Commission, this assertion by the US Resolution is indeed disingenuous.
Having made this criticism of the LLRC, the US Resolution then goes on to stipulate measures in its operative clauses which range well beyond the LLRC’s recommendations:
“(1). Calls on the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the constructive recommendations in the LLRC report and take all necessary additional steps to fulfill its relevant legal obligations and commitment to initiate credible and independent actions to ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans,
(2) Requests that the Government of Sri Lanka present a comprehensive action plan as expeditiously as possible detailing the steps the Government has taken and will take to implement the LLRC recommendations and also to address alleged violations of international law. (My emphases-DJ)
This plainly gives the lie to the assertion that the US resolution seeks only the (harmless) implementation of the LLRC’s recommendations. It is permissible to argue that the additional measures are good and necessary, but quite another to sweep under the rug, or divert attention from these stipulations which range beyond the LLRC into the domain of international law. That practice of providing a smokescreen for external interventionism is rather like persuading customers, in this case the Sri Lankan citizenry, to participate in a Ponzi scheme.
The third and final operative clause of the US Resolution reads:
(3) “Encourages the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and relevant special procedures to provide, and the Government of Sri Lanka to accept, advice and technical assistance on implementing those steps and requests the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to present a report to the Council on the provision of such assistance at its twenty-second session.”
In other words, the High Commissioner becomes the monitoring authority, with operational functions as well, of the compliance of the elected government of Sri Lanka with the US request to “take all necessary additional steps [beyond the LLRC] to fulfill its relevant legal obligations and commitment to initiate credible and independent actions to ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans…and also to address alleged violations of international law.” This seeks to give the Office of the UN High Commissioner the role of an overseer, in relation to a national process of (national) reconciliation. In the US Resolution, the political and policy implementation process in Sri Lanka changes its circuitry and loops through the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights; an extra-national entity, accountable not to the UN Human Rights Council but primarily to the UN Secretary-General in New York.