Human Rights Council – precedents set could come back to haunt us, says Kohona

The upcoming visit to Sri Lanka of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances could be ‘the thin end of a large wedge,’ leading critics of Sri Lanka’s domestic mechanisms to demand more international interventions, a former diplomat has warned. While adherence to international human rights standards is a must, respect for our own ability as a mature state to deal with issues of this nature must not be compromised, says Palitha Kohona, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York from 2009 to 2015.

Dr Kohona was among several ‘non-career diplomats’ recalled after the recent change of government. He was Sri Lanka’s Foreign Secretary from 2007 to 2009. His experience with the UN pre-dates his posting to New York. He was the Chief of the UN’s Treaty Section from 1995 to 2005, during which he introduced seminal changes to the work of the Section. Having started his career as an Australian diplomat, he led trade delegations to the UNCTAD Trade and Development Board meetings, negotiated bilateral trade and investment agreements and was posted to Australia’s Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva in 1989. In 2006 at the invitation of President Rajapaksa he assumed duties as Secretary General of the Government Peace Secretariat.

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