The United Nations 47-member Human Rights Council passed a fresh resolution on Sri Lanka, with 22 countries in favour, 11 against and 14 abstaining. The UNHRC has thus received a mandate to collect evidence of crimes committed during Sri Lanka’s long civil war, which ended in 2009 with an upsurge of civilian deaths and the defeat of the Tamil separatist.
The resolution allows the United Nations to collect, consolidate, analyse and preserve information and evidence, and to develop possible strategies for future accountability processes for gross violations of human rights or serious violations of international humanitarian law in Sri Lanka, to advocate for victims and survivors, and to support relevant judicial and other proceedings. It also provided a budget of $2.8 million to hire investigators to work on the collection of evidence. It is likely to take several months to set up a team, as the evidence-gathering will be a long process, due to the length of time that has elapsed since the end of the war will complicate evidence-gathering.
In this scenario, as the UNHRC Resolution on Sri Lanka is for justice and accountability, it is expected that the member states may pursue decisive action beyond the Council. However, it has significant implications for and provides the Sri Lankan government an opportunity to grant justice to the civilian victims on whom war crimes were committed during the civil-war period.