UNHRC Adopts Tough Lanka Resolution But India Abstains
In a break from the pattern of last two years, India on Thursday abstained from voting in the resolution passed by Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council, calling for a comprehensive external probe into human rights abuses, claiming that it will hinder efforts towards reconciliation. The US-sponsored resolution was passed by 23 votes in favour, 12 against and 12 abstentions. There was a slight change in voting margin from last year’s resolution, when 25 countries voted in favour, 13 were nay-sayers, while eight had not voted.
The resolution calls on the office of High Commissioner to “undertake comprehensive investigations into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties in Sri Lanka during the period covered by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (2002-2009)”. Defending India’s abstention, permanent representative to UN in Geneva Dilip Sinha said the resolution “has the potential to hinder the efforts of the country rather than contribute constructively to its efforts, and hence inadvertently complicate the situation”. This is a change in tradition from India’s previous ‘yes’ votes in 2013 and 2012 – both of which had taken place when Parliament was in session and there was immense pressure from the Tamil regional parties.
The voting was done keeping geopolitical ties in mind. While Russia voted against the resolution, Asian nations too were largely sympathetic to Sri Lanka. Colombo welcomed the result claiming that a majority of the 47-member council opposed the resolution. Much to its relief, no major Islamic nations voted in favour. Lanka had been bracing for an angry Islamic bloc in the aftermath of attacks by extremist Buddhists monks on the island’s Muslim community.