Russia exposes Western double-standards

South Africa urges UNHRC not to be selective

By Shamindra Ferdinando in Genevaa

The Russian Federation yesterday accused the US and its allies of using the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) as a weapon to undermine other countries.

Speaking on the fourth day of the sessions, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gennady M. Gatilov emphasized that Russia wouldn’t endorse attempts to transform the UNHRC into a tool of political pressure, to divide governments into ‘bad’ and ‘good’ or ‘students’ and teachers’ or to dilute the inter-governmental character of the primary UN human rights organization.

In an obvious reference to US, UK and EU pursuing a human rights agenda of their own, Russia alleged that an attempt was being made to monopolize accountability issues and exploit them as instruments of pressure.

The GoSL delegation welcomed the Russian position. "We appreciate the stand taken by the Russian Federation, particularly at a time Sri Lanka is   being increasingly targeted by those championing the rights of some at the expense others. Ours is a case in point."

Deputy Minister Gatilov alleged that the West didn’t tolerate criticism directed at them. The bottom line was that the West wanted to selectively impose human rights monitoring at their discretion depending on their political conjuncture.

Russia declared: "We believe human rights issues cannot be exclusively controlled by anybody."

Referring to military operations undertaken by Western powers in the post 9/11 period, Russia emphasized that it strongly opposed violence against civilian population and the need to punish those perpetrators of abuses. However It showed opposition to external armed intervention in support of one of the parties involved in a particular conflict and atrocities committed in the name of human rights.

Russia also warned of ongoing attempts to revive Nazism. Recalling the horrors caused by Nazi Germany, Russia alleged that certain political forces were trying to revive Nazism.

The Government of South Africa, too, expressed confidence in progress made by the GoSL since the conclusion of the conflict.

South African Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Marius Fransman, too, expressed concern over double-standards adopted by certain countries. Deputy Minister Fransman said: "The partiality in which some international bodies are perceived to respond to situation of human rights abuses in different parts of the world is also problematic. Some countries continue to enjoy the protection by certain Western powers even whilst gross human rights violations against their own neighbours is continuing. It is the responsibility of the UNHRC to ensure that this type of selective application of the definition of human rights is being stopped."

South Africa commended the GoSL for taking a decision to set up an authoritative mechanism to further investigate accountability issues. While appreciating the positive recommendations made by Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and other post-war developments, South Africa urged Sri Lanka to act decisively subsequent to ongoing investigations.

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