Countries must respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity
Although Sri Lanka is absolutely determined to
work with the UN system, it is not prepared to trade away its independence and sovereignty under any circumstances. Sri Lanka remains committed to achieving the goals set by the people of Sri Lanka on accountability and human rights, towards lasting peace and reconciliation, Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said in his latest address to the HRC.
Sri Lanka, like any other self-respecting nation, wishes to safeguard its independence and sovereignty and expects the world to respect our sovereignty. Given that the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) is due to focus on Sri Lanka during its session next month, it is worth recalling the message given by Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena at the HRC session two years ago when he was Minister of Foreign Affairs Affairs that some parties are trying to damage the credibility of Sri Lanka as a whole in the eyes of the international community and such irresponsible actions have also damaged relations long-standing regional relations and the solidarity of the non-aligned countries and of South Asia.
“The deliberate polarization he sought to provoke through compromises which resulted in the reduction of Sri Lanka’s foreign policy to a ‘zero-sum game’, made my country a ‘pawn’ on the chessboard of world politics and unnecessarily lured Sri Lanka away from its traditional neutrality,” he told the CHR.
It is gratifying to learn that India also made a similar call earlier this week, urging the global community to respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and abide by international agreements. Speaking at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on “promoting common security through dialogue and cooperation”, on Monday August 22, India’s permanent representative to the UN , Ruchira Kamboj, said that the international order depends on respecting the principle of sovereignty and changing the status quo by force has harmed common security. She also warned that the UN was in real danger of being replaced by more democratic groupings if the Security Council was not reformed.
Although there is demand for UN reforms, the UNSC continues to be limited to five permanent members and 10 other members chosen on a rotational basis. Some of the most populous countries like India, Brazil and South Africa are non-permanent members, while the most populous countries – UK and France are permanent members.
Indian delegate Kamboj, addressing the meeting hosted by China’s UNSC presidency for August, said common security was based on maintaining the rules-based international order, underpinned by international law, based on respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all Member States, the settlement of international disputes through peaceful negotiations and free and open access for all to the global commons.
Terrorism and double standards
“Any coercive or unilateral action that seeks to change the status quo by force is an affront to common security,” Ms. Kamboj said, adding that common security is only possible when countries unite against terrorism and do not practice double standards on the issue. and when they do not take unilateral steps to withdraw from agreements. The Indian delegate told the UNSC that common security is also only possible if countries respect the agreements signed with others, bilateral or multilateral, and do not take unilateral measures to cancel these same agreements with those to which they were. parts.
She called for multilateral reform, particularly in the Security Council, saying that common security could not be achieved if the common good of the countries of the South was not represented. “The most urgent thing, therefore, for us is to make the Security Council more representative of developing countries to reflect current geopolitical realities,” she said, suggesting that the African continent should also have a permanent representation on the Security Council. .
As many countries in the South have repeatedly pointed out, the United Nations was created more than 75 years ago in the aftermath of the Second World War and, in the current context, it is very unbalanced and outdated.
The UN would face a crisis of credibility and confidence, Ms. Kamboj said. If the Council is not reformed, there is a real danger that the UN will be replaced by plurilateral and multilateral groupings that are more representative, more transparent, more democratic and therefore more effective, warned the Indian representative.
Sri Lanka and the HRC
Although Sri Lanka is absolutely committed to working with the United Nations system, it is by no means prepared to relinquish its independence and sovereignty.
Sri Lanka remains committed to achieving the goals set by the people of Sri Lanka on accountability and human rights, towards lasting peace and reconciliation, he said in his final address to the HRC. He elaborated the steps to achieve this end; First, the Government of Sri Lanka declares its commitment to achieving lasting peace through an inclusive process of reconciliation and accountability, designed and executed at the national level, including through the appropriate adaptation of existing mechanisms, in accordance with the policy framework of the Government . This would include the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry (COI) headed by a Supreme Court Justice, to review the reports of previous Sri Lankan COIs which have investigated alleged violations of human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL), to assess the status of implementation of their recommendations and to propose deliverable measures to implement them in accordance with the policy of the new government.
Second, the government will also address other outstanding concerns and introduce institutional reforms where necessary, in line with Sri Lanka’s commitments, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs). We will implement policies rooted in the government’s commitment to the people by advancing individual and collective rights and protections under the law, ensuring justice and reconciliation, and addressing the concerns of vulnerable sections of society. . A discussion has already taken place with the UN Resident Coordinator where it was agreed to link relevant UN agencies to assist the Government of Sri Lanka in the implementation of the SDGs.
Thirdly, Sri Lanka will continue to engage with the UN and its agencies, including the regular human rights mandates/bodies and mechanisms, and seek their assistance in capacity building and technical assistance, in accordance with national priorities and policies.
Finally, in collaboration with all members of the United Nations, Sri Lanka will endeavor to work towards the closure of the resolution, he urged the Council.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Eastern Province Regional Consular Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Trincomalee as Foreign Minister, Dinesh Gunawardena said: “Thirty years of terrorism have disrupted life in these areas and development declined. However, after the defeat of LTTE terrorism, steps were taken to develop these areas. Currently, our government is taking steps to also provide the villages with the facilities available in Colombo. We must all work together to develop the country.
On the independence anniversary, he said, “We must also bear in mind the challenges that have arisen at the national and international level against the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of this country. We are determined to make Sri Lanka a prosperous country by maintaining friendly relations with the nations of the world.
Sri Lanka’s position has not changed and also in the September 2022 HRC session, the request to the Council is for the closure of the resolution on Sri Lanka. As the Indian delegate told the UN Security Council earlier this week, “countries must respect each other’s sovereignty.”