With the recent passing of UN resolution against Sri Lanka in relations to its failure to implement its pledges on human rights issues, speculations started to stir that Sri Lankan government has accused the U.S. of pursuing an agenda other than human rights.
In an interview with BBC Sinhala Service, Assistant Secretary Robert O. Blake, Jr. for Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs responded to the accusation by saying
that US agenda for Sri Lanka is to achieve peace and reconciliation and accountability on the island and not the opposite.
He adds that US also wants to continue to build its relations with the Sri Lankan people.
“We have no other agenda than that.” – Mr. Blake
In addition, Mr. Blake says the US government also has very important interests in seeing continued good cooperation on counterterrorism, on maritime security and important issues like that as well.
Is the international community trying to divide Sri Lanka?
Mr. Blake explains that the United States and the international community are trying to reunite the country and not to divide Sri Lanka.
One way to unite Sri Lanka is to achieve reconciliation, to address the serious human rights abuses that continue to take place, and to move forward expeditiously on accountability, Mr. Blake said.
“That will help to unify the island, to achieve justice, and achieve peace and prosperity that we all want.” – Mr. Blake
U.S. vetoed a last minute attempt by the Indian government to bring in some resolutions?
Mr. Blake says with respect to India, US worked very closely with India throughout the process and they indeed welcomed some of the changes that India made.
“So we were quite satisfied with the cooperation that we had with India.” – Mr. Blake
He adds that it will be very important for all of the international community to continue to work with India to encourage progress, since India has quite a lot of influence on the island.
US message to Sri Lanka
According to Mr. Blake, the US looks for the government of Sri Lanka to implement the LLRC recommendations and reverse some of the negative trends that have occurred with respect to rule of law and human rights in Sri Lanka.
“And the United States stands ready to assist.” – Mr. Blake
He says US has had a very long and positive relationship with the government and the people of Sri Lanka.
And the US government wants to continue its engagement and to strengthen its friendship with the people of Sri Lanka.
UN Passes Resolution Against Sri Lanka on Human Rights
The UN Human Rights Council passed a US-backed resolution on Sri Lanka’s human rights violations during the war against the ethnic rebels of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
The resolution was passed with 25 of 46 member countries voting in favor, 13 against and with eight abstentions.
The resolution called on Colombo to conduct an independent and credible investigation of crimes allegedly committed by government forces against the minority Tamil community.
The US and other countries and rights groups assert Sri Lanka’s own probes into the alleged war crimes were inadequate.
UN reports that in 2011, 40,000 people, mainly Tamil civilians, died in the final stages of fighting between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan army.
Meaningful Action Needed
In his remarks in Washinton DC, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the vote in the UN Human Rights Council encourages the Government of Sri Lanka to continue on the path toward lasting peace and prosperity following decades of civil war and instability.
He said the United States together with international partners, calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to fulfill its public commitments to its own people on these longstanding issues.
US says Sri Lanka must take meaningful action on reconciliation and accountability to move forward.
More work still to be done
According to Secretary Kerry, while some important progress has been made, there is much work still to be done.
The US looks to the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and to reverse recent negative developments on rule of law and human rights.
The United States stands ready to assist with this vital work, Secretary Kerry emphasized.
UN Mission To Promote A Durable, Just and Equitable Peace in Sri Lanka
In March 2012, the United States commended the UN Human Rights Council for taking strong action to promote a durable, just and equitable peace in Sri Lanka.
The resolution adopted convincingly promotes reconciliation and accountability after decades of terrorism and civil war.
The resolution welcomes the constructive recommendations in the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission, while acknowledging the need to address key issues of accountability.
The resolution also calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to present a plan to implement the recommendations and address alleged violations of international law.
To advance these efforts, the resolution encourages the UN to offer advice and technical assistance to Sri Lanka.
By a vote of 24 in favour, 15 against and 8 abstentions, the Council adopted a resolution urging Sri Lanka to investigate potential human rights abuses committed during its 26-year-long civil war.