June 23

Sri Lankan government’s ill conceived UN campaign


The UN Human Rights Council is in danger of going the way of its predecessor. It was set up in 2006 to replace the UN Human Rights Commission which was by then entirely discredited.

Consisting of far too many human rights abusers, some gross abusers, the Commission would routinely attack democracies about their practices, ignoring too often the real offenders.

Now, on tke iniative of Sri Lanka, the Council has called on the UK to consider the holding of a referendum on the desirability or otherwise of a written constitution.

This, Sri Lanka impertinently says , should be  "preferably republican". Forgetting the Bill of Rights of 1689, it  says the constitution should have one.

This was obviously a part, a miserable part, of an expensive campign run by the Sri Lankan government to keep its seat on the Council.

This did not work.  According to Reuters on 21 May  2008, this defeat was welcomed by human rights campaigners who had long criticized Sri Lanka's record during the 25-year civil war with Tamil rebels, citing torture, attacks on aid workers and other violations of international human rights standards.

In the meantime the Sri Lankan UN mission actually denied on 15 June 2008 that it had called for the abolition of the monarchy.

What, then, does “preferably republican” mean?

It is highly unlikely that the Sri Lankan government was using the word “republican” in the sense of a crowned or disguised republic.

The Sri Lankan government might wish to find out who advised them to adopt this silly and offensive recommendation, and who drafted their foolish press release.

Above all it should stop the human rights abuses which are causing such international concern.

It is time the Commonwealth considered whether Sri Lanka’s is  actually observing the  Commonwealth standards in human rights.

The Commonwealth has higher standards in these matters, and has suspended other countries for less substantial breaches.

The Sri Lankan case deserves examination.


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