Jan 23, Colombo: Repeated resolutions in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva are counterproductive because of their polarizing effect and exert excessive pressure on the country, the Minister of External Affairs Prof. G. L. Peiris said.
The Minister made these remarks when a delegation of Asia Foundation, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization in the United States, called on the Minister for an informal discussion on Tuesday.
The Asia Foundation delegation is currently on a visit to Sri Lanka to survey projects which are being supported by the Foundation and to attend some events marking its 60th anniversary.
The delegation which includes the Foundation's President David D. Arnold and Board of Trustees and Officers are holding meetings this week in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka to discuss the major economic and political challenges facing each country, as well as opportunities to expand regional cooperation in South Asia.
During the discussion with the visiting board members of the San Francisco-based foundation, the Minister pointed out that Sri Lanka's relations with the United States are multi-faceted, and that there is good co-operation in a variety of fields including defence, higher education and public investment in several sectors.
He noted that there is a considerable interest on the part of American companies in expanding their commercial operations in Sri Lanka, taking advantage of the conditions of peace and stability now prevailing in the Island.
He said Sri Lanka values its relationship with the United States and has consistently engaged in a candid dialogue on current issues.
However, the Minister expressed regret that Sri Lanka is being unduly pressed by repeated resolutions sponsored by the U.S. at the UNHRC in Geneva. The Minister stressed that the resolutions are polarizing the country and are counterproductive.
He told the visiting American community leaders that there is a growing perception in Sri Lanka that the country is not being fairly treated, that difficult accomplishments within a brief time span are not sufficiently acknowledged and that standards not invoked in respect of comparable post-conflict situations are being applied selectively to Sri Lanka, according to a Ministry statement.
Minister Peiris urged "greater sensitivity and understanding, and the desirability of approaches founded more on partnership and respect consistent with the country's dignity than on coercive elements which inject needless strain into a long established relationship."
The Minister said he attaches importance in his dialogue with American community leaders because people to people contact is an integral part of the bilateral relationship, and community leaders have every opportunity of playing a relevant and useful role at this time.
Among the Foundation officials visiting the country are Chairman of the Board former U.S. Ambassador Michael H. Armacost, former U.S. Ambassador Theodore L. Eliot and former U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Teresita C. Schaffer.