India on Tuesday abstained from a crucial vote on Sri Lanka’s rights record at the UN Human Rights Council. The resolution on ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’ was however adopted after 22 member states of the 47-member Council voted in its favour.
Both, the Government of Sri Lanka and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the main grouping representing war-affected Tamils of the island’s north and east, that sought the exact opposite outcomes on the passage of the resolution, had earlier expressed hope about obtaining India’s support to their respective calls.
In a pre-vote statement, the Indian delegation said India’s approach to the question of human rights in Sri Lanka is guided by the “two fundamental considerations” of support to the Tamils of Sri Lanka for equality, justice, dignity and peace, and 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,” India said, reiterating its earlier position.
India said it supports the call by the international community for the Government of Sri Lanka to fulfil 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, we believe that the work of OHCHR should be in conformity with mandate given by the relevant resolutions of the UN General Assembly,” the Indian representative said, urging the Government of Sri Lanka to “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.”
A total of 11 countries, including China and Pakistan voted against the resolution, in support of the Sri Lankan government, while 14 countries, including India, abstained.
The Sri Lanka resolution was the first to be voted on using the extraordinary e-voting procedures established for the UNHRC 46th Session, which has been held virtually.