Home News Walking diplomatic tightrope, India abstains from voting on Lanka resolution | India...

Walking diplomatic tightrope, India abstains from voting on Lanka resolution | India News

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NEW DELHI: Caught between the expectations of the Tamil community in the middle of an election season and the prospect of ceding strategic ground in the neighbourhood, India abstained Tuesday from voting on a contentious resolution at the UNHRC that sought to fix responsibility for war crimes and human rights violations by Sri Lankan authorities.
While the government was under pressure from political parties in Tamil Nadu to support the resolution, as it has done in the past on at least 2 occasions, voting in favour would certainly have sent ties with Lanka into a tailspin given that China, Russia, Pakistan and even Bangladesh rejected the resolution.
Both in 2012 and 2013, India had voted in favour of similar resolutions at the human rights council. In 2014 though, it abstained from voting on a resolution calling for probe into the alleged war crimes.
The resolution – Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka – at the 46th session of the Council was adopted Tuesday with 22 out of 47 member states voting in favour. India and 13 other countries, including Nepal, abstained while the remaining 11 voted against.
As it abstained from voting, India continued to maintain that its support for Sri Lanka’s territorial integrity and unity and also an abiding commitment for aspirations of Lankan Tamils for equality, peace, justice and dignity are not either-or choices.
“India’s approach to the question of human rights in Sri Lanka is guided by two fundamental considerations. One is our support to the Tamils of Sri Lanka for equality, justice, dignity and peace. The other is in ensuring the unity, stability and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. We have always believed that these two goals are mutually supportive and Sri Lanka’s progress is best assured by simultaneously addressing both objectives,’’ said Pawan Badhe, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of India.
While it abstained from voting, India supported the call by international community for Sri Lanka to fulfill its commitments on the devolution of political authority, including through the early holding of elections for Provincial Councils and to ensure that all Provincial Councils are able to operate effectively, in accordance with the 13th amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution.
At the same time, the Indian official added, India believes that the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights should be in conformity with the mandate given by the relevant resolutions of the UN General Assembly.
The resolution recognised, among other things, the importance of preserving and analysing evidence relating to violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes in Sri Lanka with a view to advancing accountability, and decided to strengthen in this regard the capacity of the Office of the High Commissioner to “collect, consolidate, analyse and preserve information and evidence”.
“We would urge that the Government of Sri Lanka carry forward the process of reconciliation, address the aspirations of the Tamil community and continue to engage constructively with the international community to ensure that the fundamental freedoms and human rights of all its citizens are fully protected,” said Badhe.