UNHRC Vote – Politicizing Humanitarian Issues

March 26, 2012

By Padmini Arhant

On March 22, 2012 – United Nations Human Rights Council voted on two pertinent humanitarian issues related to gross human rights violation in Sri Lanka and Israeli occupied Palestinian territories of West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Sri Lanka – United States tabled UN resolution against the island nation in the Indian sub-continent for the lack of remedial measures in the post conflict between Sri Lankan government and the resistance group for self-determination and emancipation – Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

The glaring similarities in the Tamil and Palestinian plight are state oppression and persecution unequivocally inciting a segment within subjugated population to retaliate for violent suppression of basic human rights giving birth to militancy.

Although LTTE representing Tamil suffering and previously PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) dissenting illegal invasion and occupation of meager Palestinian land declared terrorist organizations by the same nations having profited from lucrative arms supply to them directly and indirectly,

Neither the respective state aggression provoking these networks violent reactions held accountable nor their disproportionate use of force qualifying state sponsored terrorism condemned demanding an end to atrocity against entire demography via enforceable UN resolutions.

Nothing happens without a cause and government misuse of armed forces under national security pretext has become the norm in compliance with military industrial complex chartered course often deviating from peaceful negotiations and constructive dialogue prolonging victims’ ordeal attributed to political stalemate.

The government authority with political and military power reliance on ammunitions rather than democratic means to address citizens’ grievances ignites perpetual crossfire endangering innocent civilians on all sides while the defense industry flourish from arms influx exacerbating the confrontation.

Sri Lanka is yet to acknowledge ethnic Tamils the integral part of society through fair political rights in the national and provincial level, economic opportunities barring origin based discrimination; social equality demonstrated in facilitating healthy living conditions and education emphasizing inclusiveness are the milestones for communal harmony.

Poignantly, Sri Lankan Tamils were mandatorily transmigrated from native India by then colonial power to work in the formerly known Ceylon tea plantation.

With British Raj departure leaving behind conundrums as souvenir invariably in every colony around the world,

Since then Tamil identity in Sri Lanka unfortunately formulated into burden on society instead of appreciating economic contributions predominantly benefiting the majority due to prevalent disenfranchisement.

Notwithstanding credible sources as well as independent investigative journalists accounts on brutality and state authorized military executions in open fields showing no mercy to women, children and men perceived as terror elements in the absence of any evidence to such convictions.

Sri Lankan government under President and Commander-in-Chief Mahinda Rajapaks primarily held responsible for serious violation of international law in indiscriminate killings constituting ethnic cleansing per reports accompanied by massacre footage.

Society vision as one community and nation reaps the rewards of pervasive peace and prosperity eliminating rifts and threats in the domestic front.

Simultaneously the unity safeguards sovereignty becoming the formidable force deterring external interference for vested interests.

U.S. organized UN vote against Sri Lanka with 24 in favor, 15 against and 8 abstentions in the 47 member council is indicative of equal opposition except for a swing vote barely altering the result considering abstinence on crucial issues is political expediency interpreted as Nay vote.

Even the swing vote apparently from India as Sri Lanka’s neighbor and present Indian government being close ally with Sri Lankan counterpart diluted UN mandate to Sri Lankan discretionary actions compromising effectiveness of the protocol.

Alongside sponsor United States commending strategic partner India’s calibration as positive. .

The resolution directed at implementing Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) recommendations with repeat request to re-investigate serious allegations on government approved crimes against humanity by the government.

Unlike independent international body findings for objectivity and accountability perhaps in the global judiciary system given the international criminal court justice credibility marred with selective indictments on humanitarian crimes.

India reportedly cast vote in reluctance heeding coalition political pressure at home that could have otherwise led to incumbent administration collapse setting the stage for early national elections.

The political party from Tamil Nadu State in alliance with current UPA 2 government at the center accused of conspiring in the Congress Party leader and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assassination.

Not to mention the self-protection impulse against potential backlash from AFSPA (Armed Forces with Special Powers Act) abuse in northeast and Kashmir valley implicating state and central government especially Home Ministry and Defense Ministry for disregarding security personnel abuse of civilians in the region.

Likewise the opponents voting against politically motivated resolution might have general objection in reference with timing, content, intent, or averting possible scrutiny of policies towards their citizens in parallel scenario.

As for nations negative vote quoting three years insufficient time for Sri Lanka to begin the healing process is a weak argument when generations have been wiped out in targeted genocide.

Nonetheless nations mistreatment of citizens and killing spree whether in their domicile or overseas could not be ignored as an internal affair even though those committing such crimes routinely claim in self-defense like Sri Lankan Special Envoy on Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe with reports on China and Russia agreement in this regard adding to the disappointing factor.

Turning a blind eye to injustice is complicity sharing equal ramifications for a civilized society. The world could not be treated as one preferentially to suit economic pursuits.

However on social and political fairness anomalies eventually affecting all – the strategy to distance from the matter delegitimizes the global organization such as United Nations functionality to alleviate human misery.

Palestinian Resolution On the same day following U.S. drafted resolution against Sri Lanka, UNHRC passed a resolution to conduct a probe on Israeli settlements infringement upon Palestinian statehood.

Interestingly, the outcome far better than Sri Lanka resolution probably associated with sponsorship and substance delivered among 47 members – 36 votes in concurrence, 10 abstentions and,

United States the only nation to reject the proposition against Israel confirming conflicting U.S. positions on humanitarian problems endured by people expecting rationale to prevail over politics.

UNHRC resolution calls for Israel to cease settlement activities in Palestinian land,

Officially engage in terminating expansion with an estimated 310,000 Israeli citizens occupying West Bank and,

According to international reports – Israeli committee issued permits for additional 500 homes in Northern West Bank in late February this year,

Besides 200,000 Israeli residents in a dozen or more neighborhoods in East Jerusalem annexed by Israel defying international condemnation.

The resolution also emphasized on Israel intervention in curbing violence with weapons confiscation from Israeli settlers throughout Palestinian homeland.

United States cried foul and denounced the resolution as partisanship against Israel.

Arguably Israel settlement agenda despite UN and international community outrage clarifies grave consequences for the U.S. ally isolated in dishonoring resolutions – the decision commonly found reproachable worldwide.

United States duality in UNHRC resolutions against Sri Lanka and Israel defines self-defeating purpose in politicizing humanitarian issues deserving genuine empathy and sincere commitment to reflect UN obligation in dispute settlement setting precedence for the future.

Citizens in Sri Lanka and Israel have unique opportunity to perform national duty in guiding their country towards freedom, equality and justice for all.

Best Wishes to people in Sri Lanka, Palestine and Israel for peaceful co-existence.

Peace to all

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant





















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