Mar 13, London: The United Kingdom is seeking support from the member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to adopt a strong resolution on Sri Lanka which calls for an international investigation, the Foreign Secretary William Hague said Thursday.
Delivering a written statement to UK Parliament on the resolution on Sri Lanka, the Foreign Secretary said the adoption of the resolution is not a foregone conclusion and therefore the UK is seeking the support of the member states to adopt the resolution when it is voted later this month.
Hague said ahead of the vote, the Prime Minister and himself, and other Foreign & Commonwealth Office Ministers, have been in contact with a wide range of UNHRC member states to encourage them to support a strong resolution that calls for an international investigation.
"In doing so, we have drawn attention to the assessment of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights who points to the need for this investigation, as progress on accountability in Sri Lanka has been, in her words, "limited and piecemeal".
The draft resolution jointly tabled at the UNHRC by the UK, US, Mauritius, Macedonia and Montenegro, on 3 March calls for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to lead an international investigation, and to report back by March 2015.
The Foreign Secretary said further discussions on the text of the resolution will take place this month.
The UK welcomed the offer of the OHCHR to assist in an international investigation, which according to Hague, would be a significant step forward in ensuring that the Sri Lankan people will know the truth behind events during the conflict.
"We are confident that the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, together with Special Procedures, can provide a full and comprehensive investigation," Hague told parliament.
During his visit to Sri Lanka last year to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, the UK Prime Minister David Cameron issued an ultimatum if the Sri Lankan government does not launch a credible domestic process to ensure accountability for alleged violations and abuses of international humanitarian and human rights law on both sides during the conflict by March this year, the UK will use its position in the UNHRC to bring a resolution calling for ab international investigation.
Hague told parliament that in the intervening months UK pressed the Sri Lankan government to set up a domestic process to investigate these allegations and ensure accountability.
"However, no credible domestic accountability processes have been set up to date in Sri Lanka," he said.
As a result, the time has now come for UK to call for an international action on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, he told the UK legislature.
He said the resolution will help to address the legitimate concerns of all communities. It will be voted on March 26 at the INHRC in Geneva.
Hague noted that if the Sri Lankan government addresses these vital issues Sri Lanka has enormous potential, with the opportunity to become a strong and prosperous nation.
He acknowledged that Sri Lanka made considerable progress after ending the war in May 2009 in areas including demining, reconstruction of former conflict affected areas and the reintegration of child soldiers.
However, such progress should not be overlooked, Hague said, adding that it is also important that the progress is matched by substantive progress on reconciliation, human rights and accountability.
"It is clear that Sri Lanka still has a long way to go in this respect, in order to achieve lasting peace and reconciliation," Hague said in his statement.
According to the UK Foreign Secretary accountability plays an important part in the reconciliation process, and must not be ignored.