Gotabaya Rajapaksa govt to ‘revisit’ 2015 UNHRC resolution

Nov 26, 2019
Colombo:  Sri Lanka’s new government has announced that it will “review and revisit” the 2015 UNHRC resolution promoting accountability, reconciliation, and human rights for its wartime abuses.

Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said that Colombo would look at the resolution in a “national viewpoint in order to make it balanced and non-partisan”.

He said the top priority of new President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s administration was to ensure national security.

The minister recalled that the President’s election manifesto made it clear that any foreign agreements that had a negative impact on Sri Lanka’s national security, sovereignty and integrity would be reviewed.

“Sri Lanka will revisit all bilateral agreements, particularly the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA), Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) worked out by the previous government, and if necessary, introduce amendments,” he said on Monday.

He told reporters that President Rajapaksa had clearly outlined the new government’s foreign policy based on non-aligned principles in his election manifesto.

“There is no doubt that we have to review and carefully go through all bilateral agreements inked after 2015 and remove any line, clause or paragraph detrimental to our national security, sovereignty, well-being of our people and negatively affect our economy, trade and industry. Sri Lanka has witnessed a tremendous political change through which has restored political and economic stability under a fresh development path. The main task at hand of the new government is to strengthen national security and rebuild the lost confidence both domestically and internationally,” he said.

Gunawardena pointed out that the Foreign Ministry would be providing the President and the Cabinet with the full details of the said agreements and supplying them with expert opinions in order for them to decide the best way forward.

President Rajapaksa had commented on the UNHRC resolution in the lead-up to the election, calling it illegal.

Gunawardena, flanked by fellow parliamentarians including Sarath Amunugama and Bandula Gunwardana, as well as senior ministry officials, obtained the blessings of religious leaders prior to assuming office. Senior diplomats and ministry officials were also present at the ceremony.

He said the new government will call upon the Sri Lankan expatriate community including the Tamil diaspora to take part in the development and reconciliation process to bring prosperity and peace among all communities.

“To reach that goal, we need the friendship and cooperation of all nations, which is why Sri Lanka would not be party to any power bloc,” he said.

In September 2015, Sri Lanka had co-sponsored a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution which made it committed to fulfil a range of measures dealing with human rights, accountability and transitional justice. IANS