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Thursday, March 22, 2012

India votes for ; 24 countries also – UNHRC passes resolution against Sri Lanka

23rd March 2012  is a politically significant day as today the  US sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka  was up for  debate in the United Nations Human Rights Convention  at Geneva.

Speaking at the council debate, Sri Lanka said it was vehemently opposed to the resolution in its current form. The Sri lankan delegate said, “The resolution runs counter to the international law principle that local remedies should be exhausted”. He added that the resolution by UNHRC would allow the LTTE to resume under the protection of the Council.  At the end of the debate, Sri Lanka  faced a major embarrassment as the UN's top human rights body adopted a resolution censuring it for alleged war crimes in the conflict with LTTE as India joined the West in backing the US-sponsored move.

In the 47-member UN Human Rights Council, 24 countries, including India, voted for the resolution and 15 against it, while eight nations abstained. India, which normally does not vote on nation-specific resolutions, made a last-minute departure in the current instance after overwhelming pressure from parties in Tamil Nadu, to vote against Sri Lanka.  Later  in trying to reduce its impact the Indian Govt. stressed that it respects the sovereignty of Sri Lanka and has vowed to remain engaged with the government. In a press statement after the vote in Geneva, the Ministry of External Affairs said, “India believes that the primary responsibility for the promotion and protection of human rights lies with the States. Consequently resolutions of this nature should fully respect the sovereign rights of states and contribute to Sri Lanka’s own efforts in this regard.” The ministry also stressed India’s involvement in the rehabilitation and resettlement efforts in Sri Lanka in the areas of housing, de-mining, education, public health and connectivity have helped restore a degree of normalcy in the area.

Some may immediately claim great victory and try to gain maximum political mileage out of this US sponsored resolution.  A closer analysis would reveal that it is not falling sky for Lanka, as the resolution  “Promoting Reconciliation and Accountability in Sri Lanka” is a non-binding resolution.  Analysts also point out to a  key amendment that was made to the final paragraph in order to get India on vote in favour of the resolution directs the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to act “in consultation with, and with the concurrence of, the Government of Sri Lanka” in implementing the resolution.  That ought to give the Sri Lankan government an exit clause and a small measure of “face” – but the government may not see it that way.

It may be touted to be a diplomatically wrong move but morally correct one – for not only the atrocities but also the fact that the Sri Lankan Govt has not acceded to repeated demands of India and International community in providing redressal  and political settlement to the ethnic problem after ending the war with LTTE.  Reading from the past, Lankan Lion is a wounded animal and could retaliate; even as the human rights activists are bracing for an even more repressive crackdown.  Some reports state that Buddhist monks, who channel the latent Sinhala angst, are already on the streets in protests; so too are war-wounded soldiers – some of whose actions are likely at the centre of the human rights allegations.

Though there were reports earlier, that India is inclined towards voting in favour, SL Foreign Minister specifically requested not to vote for it.  China aggressively lobbied against the resolution and called on all member countries to defeat the resolution. Factually, 24 countries including India voting in favor of the resolution; 15 countries voted against, and 18 abstained. Bangladesh  voted against the resolution on Sri Lanka, saying that there is a disturbing selectivity when deciding which countries to bring resolutions against. The Chinese delegate said that the resolution was a blatant violation of Sri Lanka’s rights as a sovereign nation, and amounted to interference in the domestic affairs of the country. Thailand praised Sri Lankan efforts at reconciliation and votes against the resolution. The Philippines and Nigeria  also voted against the resolution.

After the passing of the resolution,  Sri Lankan government  made a statement condemning its passage.   In an obvious reference to India, Sri lanka’s Minister for External Affairs GL Pieris said, “The most distressing feature of this experience is the obvious reality that voting at the Human Rights Council is now determined not by the merits of a particular issue but by strategic alliances and domestic political issues in other countries which have nothing to do with the subject matter of a Resolution or the best interests of the country to which the Resolution relates. This is a cynical negation of the purposes for which the Human Rights Council was established.”

The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them. It has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year. It meets at the UN Office at Geneva. The Council is made up of 47 United Nations Member States which are elected by the UN General Assembly.  The Council was created by the United Nations General Assembly on 15 March 2006 by resolution 60/251. Its first session took place from 19 to 30 June 2006. One year later, the Council adopted its "Institution-building package" to guide its work and set up its procedures and mechanisms.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

1 comment:

  1. You can see Srilakna's development will be similar to developments of countries like Burma, Combodia,NKoria,Viatnam, even PAK...etc in couple of decades. Under China these countries will perform like that. China will pump and extract all resources from them and spit like a chewed bubblegum, Lankans invited and they will harvest what they wanted.