Sri Lanka reiterates commitment to a long-lasting reconciliation through a co-sponsored resolution
Sri Lanka today reiterating its commitment to the co-sponsored United Nations resolution for reconciliation sought a further two-year extension to deliver on promises made in the October 2015 resolution.
Issuing a joint statement, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Affairs Ministry said Sri Lanka will continue to demonstrate its commitment and determination towards a steady and long-lasting reconciliation process through a co-sponsored resolution, and will seek an extension of the timeline of resolution 30/1 of October 01, 2015, through a co-sponsored roll-over resolution at the ongoing 40th session of the UN Human Rights Council.
“This initiative will further attest to Sri Lanka’s ownership of the implementation process and to its continued policy of constructive engagement and dialogue with the UN and bilateral partners,” the statement said.
The statement comes hours after President Maithripala Sirisena named two of his party parliamentarians and Northern Province Governor to attend the UNHRC session in Geneva and announced that he will formally ask the UNHRC to reconsider the 2015 resolution which called for credible investigations into alleged war crimes.
Following the withdrawal of the United States form the UNHRC, the core group on Sri Lanka in the Council is led by the UK and Sri Lanka will join hands with the core group leader UK in co-sponsoring this roll-over resolution, the government said.
“This Strategy will prevent international war crimes allegations being continuously leveled against Sri Lankans through strengthened ownership of the implementation process,” it said.
The government reiterating its strongest commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, in keeping with international human rights standards and Sri Lanka’s international obligations, said the Government will take measures to address the violations of international humanitarian and human rights law and grievances.
Meeting with the reporters at his residence on Wednesday, President Sirisena said he wants to tell the UN not to dig the past and re-open old wounds. “Let us forget the past and ensure that we all live in peace,” he said.
The government pointed out that opportunity for Sri Lankan troops to serve in UN Peacekeeping missions and expansion of military to military cooperation and training opportunities for Sri Lankan security forces became possible due to the co-sponsoring of the UN Resolution
“The pride of our war heroes has been protected and the confidence of international community has been gained through owning up of the Human Rights Council process. We were able to witness this during the funerals of our two Army peace keeping soldiers recently,” the statement reminded.
The government said the allegations made against the co- sponsoring of the roll-over resolution is part of the campaign to mislead the public and gain undue political advantage.
Full statement made by the Prime Minister’s Office and Foreign Affairs Ministry:
Sri Lanka will continue to demonstrate its commitment and determination towards a steady and long-lasting reconciliation process through a co-sponsored resolution, and will seek an extension of the timeline of resolution 30/1 of October 01, 2015, through a co-sponsored roll-over resolution at the ongoing 40th session of the UN Human Rights Council.
This initiative will further attest to Sri Lanka’s ownership of the implementation process and to its continued policy of constructive engagement and dialogue with the UN and bilateral partners.
At the 34th Session of the Human Rights Council held in February-March 2017, the Government of Sri Lanka closely liaised with the core group (US, UK, Macedonia, Montenegro) to have the timeline of Resolution 30/1 of 01 October 2015 extended for a period of two years. Accordingly, as per resolution 34/1 of 23 March 2017, co-sponsored by Sri Lanka and adopted by consensus at the 34th Session of the Human Rights Council, the High Commissioner for Human Rights is required to present a comprehensive report, followed by a discussion on the implementation of Council resolution 30/1 at the 40th session of the Council. The action of the High Commissioner’s office on Sri Lanka is entirely based on this report which will be presented to the Council on March 20, 2019. A further extension of two years through a co-sponsored roll-over resolution accordingly needs be viewed in this backdrop.
With the withdrawal of the US from the Human Rights Council, UK has taken the lead in the core group on Sri Lanka in the Council, with Canada and Germany joining the core group. Therefore, Sri Lanka will join hands with the core group leader UK in co-sponsoring this roll-over resolution.
This Strategy will prevent international war crimes allegations being continuously leveled against Sri Lankans through strengthened ownership of the implementation process.
The resolution of 2015 and subsequent efforts of Government of Sri Lanka follow as a sequence to the commitments given to the then Secretary General of UN HE Mr. Ban Ki Moon who visited Sri Lanka in 2009 by the Government of the then President Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa. The following is the last paragraph of the Joint Communique issued by the Government of Sri Lanka and the UN at the conclusion of UN Secretary General’s visit to Sri Lanka in 2009.
”Sri Lanka reiterated its strongest commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, in keeping with international human rights standards and Sri Lanka’s international obligations. The Secretary General underlined the importance of an accountability process for addressing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. The Government will take measures to address those grievances.”
In the last few years the Government of Sri Lanka has taken concrete steps such as establishment of Missing Persons’ Office and Office for Reparations to establish long lasting peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka in addition to the establishment of Independent Commissions, enhanced by the enactment of a number of enabling laws, including for the Right to Information. This led to the people of Sri Lanka benefiting from economic dividends, including in particular, EU GSP+ concessions. A few more laws will be introduced to strengthen the ongoing processes. The entire mechanism and process of reconciliation is under the control of Government of Sri Lanka.
Those who shed crocodile tears on behalf of “War Heroes” of Sri Lanka conveniently forget the fact that our brave soldiers are right now engaged in peace keeping in Mali, a State in West Africa, and in other places. This became possible due to our co-sponsoring of the Resolution. Further, military to military cooperation has expanded considerably, with more training opportunities for Sri Lankan soldiers. The pride of our war heroes has been protected and the confidence of international community has been gained through owning up of the Human Rights Council process. We were able to witness this during the funerals of our two Army peace keeping soldiers recently.
The draft roll-over resolution recognizes the strong role played by the democratic institutions in the peaceful resolution of the political situation that arose in Sri Lanka from October to December last year, which is a strong testimony to the independence, credibility and resilience of our national institutions.
The allegations made against the co- sponsoring of the roll-over resolution by the GOSL is part of the campaign to mislead the public and gain undue political advantage. However, the general public of this country is aware how the Government came to power in 2015, and helped to avert a looming international catastrophe by co-sponsoring the resolution at that time. The current initiative is nothing but seeking more time for the GOSL to address the issues of reconciliation, peace building and national integration. For instance, the Government of Sri Lanka was unable to finalize some of the required legislation due to the infamous Constitutional Coup of 26th October, 2018.Those who try to seek cheap political advantages shamelessly of a situation in which the country needs to be salvaged are the real traitors of our Motherland.
INDIA-US Trade Issues
United States of Americatoday has given a 60-day withdrawal notice to Indiaon the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) benefits extended by US.
Since the review initiated by the US in April 2018 on India’s GSP benefits, India and US have been discussing various trade issues of bilateral interest for a suitable resolution on mutually acceptable terms. GSP benefits are envisaged to be non-reciprocal and non-discriminatory benefits extended by developed countries to developing countries. In India’s case the GSP concessions extended by the US amounted to duty reduction of only USD 190 million per annum.
The US had initiated the review on the basis of representations by the US medical devices and dairy industries, but subsequently included numerous other issues on a self-initiated basis. These included issues related to market access for various agriculture and animal husbandry products, relaxation / easing of procedures related to issues like telecom testing / conformity assessmentand tariff reduction on ICT products. The Department of Commerce engaged with various Government of India departments concerned with these issues, and India was able to offer a very meaningful way forward on almost all the US requests. In a few instances, specific US requests were not found reasonable and doable at this time by the departments concerned, in light of public welfare concerns reflective of India’s developing country status and its national interest.
India was ready to address US concerns regarding medical devices in principle, by putting in place a suitable trade margin approach in a reasonable time frame to balance concerns about fair pricing for the consumers and adequate remuneration for the suppliers.On the issue of dairy market access, India has clarified that while our certification requirement, that the source animal had never been fed animal derived blood meal,is non-negotiable given the cultural and religious sentiment, the requested simplified dairy certification procedure, without diluting this requirement, could be considered.Acceptability of US market access requests related to products like alfalfa hay, cherries and pork was conveyed.On reduction of our IT duties, India’s duties are moderate and not import stopping. Any MFN duty reduction would almost entirely benefit third countries. Accordingly, India conveyed willingness to extend duty concessions on specific items in which there is a clear US interest. On telecom testing, India was willing to consider discussions for a Mutual Recognition Agreement.
Due to various initiatives resulting in enhanced purchase of US goods like oil and natural gas and coal the US trade deficit with India has substantially reduced in calendar years 2017 and 2018. The reduction is estimated to be over USD 4 Billion in 2018, with further reduction expected in future years on account of factors like the growing demand for energy and civilian aircrafts in India. This reduction has happened in the face of a rising overall US trade deficit, including with some other major economies. India is also a thriving market for US services and e-commerce companies like Amazon, Uber, Google and Facebook with billions of dollars of revenue.
The issue of Indian tariffs being high has been raised from time to time. It is pertinent that India’s tariffs are within its bound rates under WTO commitments, and are on the average well below these bound rates. India’s trade weighted average tariffs are 7.6%, which is comparable with the most open developing economies, and some developed economies. On developmental considerations there may be a few tariff peaks, which is true for almost all economies.
India was agreeable to a very meaningful mutually acceptable package on the above lines to be agreed to at this time, while keeping remaining issues under discussion in the future.