Geneva: Neutrality, servility and reality

The outcome of Tuesday’s vote on the UNHRC resolution against Sri Lanka, in Geneva, is being interpreted in different ways. The Sri Lankan government has claimed it to be a victory in that the US and its allies could muster only 22 votes in the 47-member UNHRC. True, the US, which is not a member of the UNHRC, and the UK should have been able to obtain at least 24 votes, given the frantic efforts they made to rally support for their resolution, but the fact remains that what is needed for resolutions to be carried at the UNHRC is only a simple majority. So, Sri Lanka has been defeated. The government had better come to terms with reality and act accordingly.

It is also being claimed in some quarters that the failure on the part of the US to secure the support of India and Japan, two Quad members, for its anti-Sri Lankan resolution was a comedown of sorts for Washington. True, everybody expected these two nations to vote for the resolution owing to their subservience to the US. But it is possible that they abstained with the consent of the US; the western bloc is aware that if its hostile actions against Sri Lanka are taken to an extreme, they could prove counterproductive in that such measures will only make this country more dependent on China. It looks as if the US and the UK had sought to prevent such an eventuality by getting the two Quad members to remain ‘neutral’ at the UNHRC vote so that they could use the proverbial carrot in dealing with Sri Lanka.

Some government politicians would have the public believe that they have been able to manage India and Japan in Geneva, but nothing could be further from the truth. These two nations are lackey states with a western mindset; they are always at the beck and call of the US; they will go to any extent to humour the US. If President Biden catches a cold in Washington, Prime Minister Modi sneezes in New Delhi. The Japanese leaders also behave in a similar manner.

The UNHRC resolutions are non-binding, but they can be used to justify hostile actions against the nations that refuse to toe the western line. It is not possible to haul Sri Lanka up before the International Criminal Court on the basis of the resolution at issue; the UN Security Council has to sanction, and any attempt, at that level, to initiate a war crimes probe against Sri Lanka is bound to be vetoed. However, there are other ways in which the western powers can harass this country if they so desire. This, the government should not lose sight of.

The SJB and the JVP have lashed out at the government for the country’s defeat in Geneva. The SJB seems to think that the government should have co-operated with the US and the UK and co-sponsored the anti-Sri Lankan resolution, the way the UNP-led yahapalana government once did unflinchingly. The SJB’s argument reminds us of a Tory councillor who got into hot water for saying that if rape was inevitable one had to lie back and enjoy it. The government is right in having refused to endorse the US-crafted resolution, but it deserves the flak it receives for bungling on the diplomatic front.

Perhaps, the government should consider presenting the UNHRC resolution passed, on Tuesday, to Parliament, if possible, so that it can be discussed and put to the vote. That may be the way to make all political parties, represented in Parliament, reveal their positions on the resolution and to prevent them from using it to gain political mileage, or run with the Sri Lankan hare and hunt with the western hounds.



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