The results of political and (un)diplomatic grandstanding in Colombo were seen in Geneva this week at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Sponsors of a new Resolution on Sri Lanka forced the International Community to take sides and eventually succeeded in having it passed. In a vote of 47 representative countries, there were no [...]


Sri Lanka in the dock; needs to come to terms with realpolitik


The results of political and (un)diplomatic grandstanding in Colombo were seen in Geneva this week at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Sponsors of a new Resolution on Sri Lanka forced the International Community to take sides and eventually succeeded in having it passed.

In a vote of 47 representative countries, there were no outright winners in a sense. The sponsors of the Resolution calling for scrutiny of the military campaign against a terrorist group and for matters of more current trends received less than half the votes. Sri Lanka could muster less than a quarter. According to the ‘new maths’ calculations of the Government, however, repeating the imbecile logic first propounded some years back by a professorial ex-Foreign Minister no less, Sri Lanka has defeated the Resolution simply by adding the Abstentions to its total.

Three groups in which Sri Lanka has membership, viz., the Commonwealth, SAARC (South Asian) countries and NAM (Non-Aligned Movement) were split; Sri Lanka unable to garner even their support.

Sri Lanka paid the price for pussyfooting with its own appointed Commissions of Inquiry in the backdrop of persistent pressure from the UNHRC. The C.R. De Silva-led LLRC, the Judge Maxwell Paranagama Commission and the Desmond De Silva QC-led report recommendations were only partially implemented with no sense of urgency, giving the handle for further prosecution by hostile nations and placing the country in peril at world fora.

Coupled with erratic domestic political decisions recently and loose talk on the eve of last week’s election, the Government committed diplomatic hara-kiri. Sri Lanka could have turned some Abstentions to favourable votes if it was more politically astute, and diplomatically smart and prudent, but it also failed to pick up mitigating proposals by certain friendly and empathetic nations. It was almost as if it was on the Government’s wish list to crash their case in order to feed from it as an integral part of its domestic nationalistic agenda.

The lead-up to the vote saw various country delegates who had the vote make sometimes amusing remarks, given this was a serious debate with far reaching consequences for Sri Lanka. The British delegate, for instance, spoke of “decades” of human rights violations in Sri Lanka — not the “centuries” of them under their watch. The Indian delegate referred to all the good work India had done after the northern insurgency in Sri Lanka ended in 2009, not about who started it all. The Pakistani delegate could not resist referring to the “external” elements involved in that insurgency (with no prizes for guessing which country he was referring to), that trained, financed and provided succour to the local terrorist groups used as its cat’s paw to do its bidding in destabilising Sri Lanka.

It was not just the Resolution against Sri Lanka, but the entire UNHRC system that was reeking with political intrigue with the West pushing its agenda on the World Order against Syria, North Korea, Nicaragua etc., and the rest throwing the can back at the West in equal measure.

In Moscow this week, the Russian Foreign Minister has just announced his country was reconsidering its ties with the European Union while aligning itself again with its one-time co-partner in spreading the Communist Doctrine turned bitter adversary. They have ganged up to challenge the West dominating the world scene. Ghosts of the Cold War of yesteryear are turning up the heat once again.

Whatever chest-thumping claims Sri Lanka’s Ministers make about the outcome of the UNHRC, they must have surely heard the pronouncement at the end of the voting by the Fijian lady President of the Council sessions, that the Resolution against Sri Lanka had been “adopted”. The wheels of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights will now begin to roll from that mandate.

This means, plainly, that Sri Lanka will be in the international dock, probably to be drawn and quartered and open-ended. It has created a virtual ‘Prosecutors Office’ in Geneva which can collect, preserve and pass on ‘evidence’ to those countries wishing to exercise the concept of ‘universal jurisdiction’ through their respective legal systems against Sri Lankan individuals, mostly top brass military personnel and high-level politicians.

Make no mistake, it was one of the most humiliating defeats in the history of the country’s multilateral diplomacy. And the sooner Government leaders stop kidding themselves about the outcome of the UNHRC Resolution, the better. They may think they can hoodwink the masses, but if they start believing their own lies, the country is going to be in dire straits.

This Resolution may mean different things to different groups; perverse satisfaction for those who delight in seeing the country hauled over the coals; then those who think the Government bravely stood up to the powerful West; and possibly the silent majority — those who don’t like the West’s bullying and yet believe this country is drifting towards unhealthy authoritarianism and needs to be reined in, even externally, if it cannot be done, internally.

The West has been clinging to this campaign of oversight on Sri Lanka for some time now like a dog with a bone. This is, no doubt, inspired, at least in part by its own domestic electoral pressures from a vocal Sri Lankan Diaspora that is refusing to put their money where their mouth is in developing the North. If the former Government co-sponsored the Resolution (30/1) without proper negotiations with the sponsors, this Government first refused to engage, then engaged and eventually didn’t know what they were doing, resulting in what has become an even more virulent Resolution against the country.

The UNHRC vote is an indicator of the bigger picture of how the world views Sri Lanka. The Resolution and the vote were a textbook case of sickening double-standards by countries with horrific human rights records of their own and skeletons aplenty in their own cupboards. But the realpolitik is something else. They won the day, and the Government will have to come to terms with the scheme of things in world affairs in all its duplicity, to come out of the hole it has dug itself into.



Share This Post


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.
Comments should be within 80 words. *


Post Comment

Advertising Rates

Please contact the advertising office on 011 - 2479521 for the advertising rates.