India abstains from UNHRC vote on Sri Lanka decision

Sandeep Dikshit

Today News Online Service

New Delhi, March 23

Faced with pressure from its electoral allies in Tamil Nadu and the need to maintain long-term ties with Colombo, India today abstained from a UN Human Right Council resolution on Sri Lanka.

The resolution was passed with 22 countries for and 11 against, while 14 abstained from voting.

India’s abstention was in contrast to the stand taken by other neighbours of Sri Lanka such as Bangladesh, China, Russia, Pakistan and the Philippines were among those which voted no while Nepal, like India, abstained from the vote.

Votes largely came from European countries, Uruguay and Brazil. Japan, which recently lost a container terminal deal in Sri Lanka, abstained from the vote.

The resolution against Sri Lanka is for war crimes against Tamils and is among the series of such resolutions the UNHRC has been bringing for a decade. India abstained from voting in 2014 and had voted in favour of a similar resolution in 2012.

The preset draft resolution is based on a report submitted by the Office of the High Commissioner for human rights in January. The report warned that Sri Lanka is “on an alarming path towards recurrence of grave human rights violations” and that “failure to deal with the past continues to have devastating effects on tens of thousands of family members from all communities who persist in seeking justice, reparations and the truth about the fate of their loved ones”.

The resolution was tabled by the UNHRC’s Core Group, which includes the UK, Germany and Canada and wants sanctions to be imposed on Sri Lanka besides listing certain action points for its government.

Ten days before the vote, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had called up PM Narendra Modi, who had reiterated the importance of Sri Lanka to India’s Neighbourhood First policy.

Tamil parties had called on PM Modi to vote in favour of the resolution but that would have jeopardised the prospects of India building major infrastructure projects as well as provided a breach to China to step in.

Twin pressure from Tamil allies, Colombo

  • The resolution titled ‘Promotion of Reconciliation Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka’ was adopted by the UNHRC after 22 members out of 47-member Council voted in favour of it.
  • Eleven members voted against the resolution tabled by the Core Group on Sri Lanka consisting of countries like the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany.
  • Tamil parties had called on PM Modi to vote in favour of the resolution but that would have jeopardised the prospects of India.

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