34th Human Rights Council - International Monitoring in Sri Lanka

On the 21st March 2017, the CIPADH had took the opportunity, for the 34th session of the Human Rights Council, to attend one of the many side events offered by the organizations of the civil society, permanent missions, the OHCHR and other international intergovernmental organizations. This informal meeting was prepared by the international movement against all form of discrimination and racism. A question has been asked:  why international monitoring matters for human rights in Sri Lanka?



The issue of international monitoring in Sri Lanka is a current topic in the country as the governement asked in 2016 its reintegration in the GSP+ Programm. The GSP+ is an European Union mechanism. GSP is an acronym for Generalized System of Preferences and can shortly be defined as a partnership between the European Union and some choosen developing or least developed countries. This mechanism enable the actors of this countries to access the European market at a lower cost than other commercial partners of the European Union. But this partnership is only possible under some conditions. One of the main condition for Sri Lanka to reintegrate the GSP + was to improve its human rights situation and protection of the human rights system.

The Sri Lanka was excluded from the GSP + in 2010 and asked to reintegrate the mechanism in 2016. The vote will be held in the European parliament at a plenary session. Some speakers of the panel agreed on the point that the international human rights monitoring is essential in this country. The GPS+ programm will implement a monitoring system in this country.

All the speakers agreed on the fact that the Sri Lankan authorities are cooperating on the process of implementing human rights with the European Union and the United Nations Organizations. However a better cooperation is essential but it is not enough. The Sri Lankan state needs to show concrete improvement respecting human rights. International monitoring is essential to assess with tools as benchmark what are the real progress made on the ground. The panel explained that international monitoring is the only path to the accountability of the state. The Sri Lankan civil society is ready to provide assistance and take part to the international monitoring of the European Union.

Sri Lanka has ratified the 27 international conventions needed to be part of the GSP+ and started their implementation in the national framework. These 27 international conventions are related to the environment, labor condition, human rights and good governance.  Focusing on the human rights component, Sri Lanka has engage itself in a process of reconciliation, justice and protection of the human rights. The participation of Sri Lanka at the Human Rights Council is a sign of its good will.

Despite the apparent progress, one speaker, working as a human right lawyer, underlined the fact that one community is still excluded from the protection of human rights: muslims from Sri Lanka. The muslim community is not taken into consideration and not included in the debate except for the Special Raporteur’s work on minority issues. Unfortunately, the muslim community is left outside the human rights efforts made by the state as part of the GSP+ program.


EF - Research Assistant at CIPADH