OHCHR to push for full implementation of Sri Lanka Resolution

“There are some emblematic cases which are blocked because of the local justice system. So Resolution 30/1 proposes obtaining foreign assistance. If Sri Lanka is not prepared to do so, then they must propose an alternative. Focusing on the nationality of the judge is not important but what is important is how to unblock this accountability problem. We need to see that justice is done. Right now, we see the process is slow and it’s not delivering,” she said. Rishmawi said that after the 2015 Resolution on Sri Lanka was passed with the support of Sri Lanka, the OHCHR office had been working with the Government to implement the proposals in the Resolution. However, she said the process is going at a slow pace and so the last Resolution calls for a time-bound process.However, President Maithripala Sirisena, last week, criticised the OMP and moves to establish a truth seeking commission while the Foreign Minister said that Sri Lanka would not agree to any deadline.However, Rishmawi said that by cosponsoring the last Resolution, Sri Lanka agreed to show more progress over the next two years. She noted that the Government had taken several important steps which included establishing a task force to look at the human rights issue and made proposals which were in line with the expectations of the international community.From our point of view, we feel several positive measures have been taken since then, such as the establishment of the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) which will benefit all communities. We also welcome the fact that there is a discussion around the setting up of a reparations office. We support the work of the independent commissions established after the 19th Amendment was passed. We also know there is a Bill on truth seeking. So we acknowledge that a number of positive steps have been taken,” she said. Last week in Parliament, several comments were made on the Resolution and the High Commissioner’s report on Sri Lanka with different views and interpretations being voiced. “I think we can refocus attention on the implementation of this Resolution. What has happened over the last few days is a little distraction. Instead of saying we have something positive to work with the international community on, there is a distraction on what was said and what was not said. This is not helpful because the Resolution is the Resolution and the report by the High Commissioner is very clear; and the High Commissioner stands by her report,” she said.Rishmawi said that the High Commissioner wants to keep the focus on fulfilling the obligations and ensuring justice and accountability for all communities.“The recommendations are basically an agreed framework. What we want to see is if the recommendations will be implemented or not. So you have a baseline which is Resolution 30/1 and we now see what has been implemented and how we can make sure the rest are implemented so Sri Lanka looks good,” she said. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is to push for the full implementation of the 2015 Resolution on Sri Lanka.The OHCHR Chief of Rule of Law Equality and Non Discrimination Branch Mona Rishmawi, who was in Sri Lanka and met the Government days before the 40th session of the UNHRC, told The Sunday Morning that OHCHR would like to see what alternative proposals Sri Lanka has if it is to reject the proposals made by OHCHR. Rishmawi said that OHCHR is committed to ensure Resolution 30/1 and 40/1 are fully implemented and they hope the Government will support the implementation of the Resolution. read more

Despite gains 24 billion people worldwide still lack basic sanitation – UN

According to the Joint Monitoring Programme report, Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water: 2015 Update and MDG Assessment, released today by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), one in every three, or 2.4 billion people on the planet, are still without sanitation facilities – including 946 million people who defecate in the open. “Until everyone has access to adequate sanitation facilities, the quality of water supplies will be undermined and too many people will continue to die from waterborne and water-related diseases,” Dr. Maria Neira, Director of the WHO Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health said in a joint press release. Access to adequate water, sanitation and hygiene is critical in the prevention and care of 16 of the 17 ‘neglected tropical diseases’ (NTDs), including trachoma, soil-transmitted helminths (intestinal worms) and schistosomiasis. NTDs affect more than 1.5 billion people in 149 countries, causing blindness, disfigurement, permanent disability and death. And the practice of open defecation is linked to a higher risk of stunting – or chronic malnutrition – which affects 161 million children worldwide, leaving them with irreversible physical and cognitive damage, according to WHO. Plans for the proposed new sustainable development goals (SDGs) to be set by the UN General Assembly in September 2015 include a target to eliminate open defecation by 2030. This would require a doubling of current rates of reduction, especially in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, WHO and UNICEF say. Sanjay Wijesekera, head of UNICEF’s global water, sanitation and hygiene programmes, said what the data really show is the need to focus on inequalities as the only way to achieve sustainable progress.” In other words, “the global model so far has been that the wealthiest move ahead first, and only when they have access do the poorest start catching up. If we are to reach universal access to sanitation by 2030, we need to ensure the poorest start making progress right away,” Mr. Wijesekera said. Access to improved drinking water sources has been a major achievement for countries and the international community. With some 2.6 billion people having gained access since 1990, 91 per cent of the global population now have improved drinking water – and the number is still growing. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, 427 million people have gained access – an average of 47,000 people per day every day for 25 years, according the a press release on the report. On the other hand, the progress on sanitation has been hampered by inadequate investments in behaviour change campaigns, lack of affordable products for the poor and social norms which accept or even encourage open defecation. Although some 2.1 billion people have gained access to improved sanitation since 1990, the world has missed the MDG target by nearly 700 million people. Today, only 68 per cent of the world’s population uses an improved sanitation facility – 9 percentage points below the MDG target of 77 per cent. WHO and UNICEF say it is vitally important to learn from the uneven progress of the 1990-2015 period to ensure that the new development agenda closes the inequality gaps and achieves universal access to water and sanitation. read more