Geneva: Lanka fails to beat the odds

Resolution amended again at India’s  behest to include key operative words, ‘in  consultation with and with the concurrence of the government of Sri Lanka’


By Shamindra Ferdinando

The US resolution on Sri Lanka was adopted by the UNHRC yesterday in Geneva with a majority of nine votes––24 for, 15 against and 8 abstaining.

Although India succumbed to US pressure to vote for the resolution, key Asian countries, including those representing SAARC and two UN Security Council members voted against it.

Although India had never voted for a ‘country specific’ resolution, the US and the Tamil Nadu politicians pressured the Manmohan Singh government to change the country’s position.

However, The Island learns that the draft of the resolution was amended at the eleventh hour at the behest of India to replace phrase, 'and the Government of Sri Lanka to accept' with 'in consultations with and with the concurrence of the Government of Sri Lanka'’. The revised section reads:

"3. Encourages the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and relevant special procedures mandate holders to provide, in consultation with and with the concurrence of, the government of Sri Lanka, advice and technical assistance on implementing the above-mentioned steps and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to present a report on the provision of such assistance to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-second session." (Revised section is highlighted in the inset.)

One-time peace facilitator and member of Sri Lanka’s Peace Co-Chairs, Norway voted for the resolution, which the US declared had 40 co-sponsors.

The Maldives declared that the US resolution was not necessary and the GoSL needed to be given time and space to take forward the domestic reconciliation process. The Maldivian government referred to the 1988 invasion and the attempt to overthrow the then administration by a group of Sri Lankan mercenaries trained and armed by India.

Bangladesh emphasised that it wouldn’t support country specific proposals, while explaining the uselessness in having a particular proposal without the consent of the government concerned.

Bangladesh said that the US proposal would make a little impact as it didn’t have the support of the Sri Lankan government.

Angola, which abstained at the voting, told the UNHRC that the US resolution didn’t encourage or support Sri Lanka’s domestic reconciliation process.

GoSL sources said that China had played a critical role in a counter-offensive after India declared that it would throw its weight behind the US resolution. In the wake of Indian move, External Affairs Minister, Prof. G. L. Peiris had got in touch with the Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, whose swift action helped the GoSL to improve its tally. Ahead of the voting, China urged members of the council to vote against the US resolution.

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