[Diplomacy] UNHRC resolution against Sri Lanka: Why India abstained?

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Unacademy Plus Mrunal Economy for Prelims and Mains UPSC!
  1. Timeline of Events
  2. Resolution game: sometimes yes, sometimes No
  3. Why India abstained from Voting?
  4. #1: same thing can happen to us
  5. #2: Pakistan-China
  6. #3: Abstain = line open both sides
  7. #4: US/EU can go the hell
  8. #5: Congress won’t win Tamilnadu anyways
  9. #6: Desi Tamils & Lankan Tamils are not “BEST” friends

Sri Lanka vs LTTE: Timeline of Events

2009 Prabhakaran killed. LTTE-Sri Lankan Civil war ends. Total >1 lakh died in a civil war that lasted more than 25 years.
2010 India gives 8000 cr. for rehabilitation of Tamils in Northern Sri Lanka. Projects for housing, powerplant and HRD.
  • Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission report (LLRC):
  • Sri Lankan government had appointed this commission.
  • This “sarkaari” commission says- hardly any human rights violation by Sri Lankan army. Just few crimes by individual’s soldiers.
  • Gave recommendation for Tamil rehab.
  • But we all know the sacred rule of forming committees= their report MUST NOT be implemented.
  • USA, UNHRC consider this junk report and want fresh international inquiry. (2014)
  • But India believes – let’s just implement this report and move on.
  • UN report says thousands of civilians killed because of government shelling/bombing.
  • Lankan army defends saying “LTTE were using civilians are human shields.”

Resolution game: Sometimes yes, Sometimes no

Year UNHRC resolution said India’s vote USA
  • We commend (applaud) Sri Lankan government for their relief-rehab work.
  • (although) focused only on the abuses done by LTTE (and not by government)
  • Didn’t mention international inquiry (=in other words, no need for international inquiry).
  • India favoured, thinking that Lankan government will honestly rehabilitate the Tamils.
  • We Censure (condemn) Sri Lankan government for their human rights violations.
  • Sri Lankan government has setup internal inquiry to probe human rights violation BUT we’re dissatisfied with their work.
  • We want an international inquiry in this matter
  • Human rights violation in Sri Lanka were not “State sponsored”. (In other words, government didn’t do anything wrong)
  • Government should implement the recommendations of the reconciliation commission.
  • No need for separate investigation of human rights abuse (Atleast for now)
  • SETUP an (independent) international inquiry for human rights abuse during LTTE-War.

This 2014 resolution wants

  1. Investigation into war crimes / human rights violation during 2002-09 period (when LTTE-Government war was on peak.)
  2. Office of the High commissioner of Human rights (OHCHR) will conduct this investigation.
  3. Although that Sarkari-LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission) investigated this period (2002-09) but still fresh investigation will be made.

Why India abstained from Voting?

in last two resolutions, India voted in favour of USA backed resolutions against Sri Lanka. (Mind the wording: IF you’re voting in “favour” of resolution= you are voting “AGAINST” Sri Lanka).

#1: same thing can happen to us

  • India opposed to this resolution because it would undermine sovereignty of Shri Lanka. (In the long run, some other country may want to invoke similar resolution on India, saying your army “violating” human rights in JK / NE; or CRPF violating human rights while fighting Maoists, so we want to setup an “International” inquiry).
  • None of our neighbours have voted in favour of this resolution.
  • None of Asian countries have voted in favour of this resolution. [Except South Korea].
  • Because ^everyone has similar “Domestic” problems- no one wants “international” inquiry on human rights.
  • So there was no need for India become “human rights champion” by voting in favour of this resolution.
  • Besides, India has never voted in favour such international-inquiries. We respect the “sovereignty“ of every nation.
  • Even, in past when we voted in favour of resolutions that were “against” Sri Lanka, we had tried to persuade UNHRC to water down the criticism/censures against Sri Lanka.
  • So by abstaining this time, we haven’t dramatically made U-turn in our stand on issue. All we want is Sri Lanka to rehabilitate Tamils.

#2: Paki-Chini

  • Neither Pakistan NOR China voted in favour of this resolution. (= they also don’t want international inquiry).
  • So, IF we vote in favour= unhappy Sri Lanka would grow closer ties with Pak and China.

#3: Abstain = line open both sides

  • USA, its allies – in Latin America and Africa, voted in favour (of setting international inquiry for Sri Lanka).
  • Voting in Favor / Against = lines are drawn, you know who is the enemy, who is the friend.
  • But Abstained = space available for future manoeuvring (India can get close to Sri Lanka or Close to USA- depending on how Chinese wind blows in Arabian sea and whether Sri Lanka dances on their tunes).

#4: US/EU can go the hell

  • Recall the Dushmani4Devyani angle under Fed Tapering article.
  • When American regulatory bodies (Aviation, Trade, Pharma) are hellbent on teaching Indians a “lesson”, we don’t need to keep USA in good humour by voting in favour of America sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka.
  • Besides, US/EU needs India anyways, for economic reasons and as a counterweight against China.
  • Therefore, India’s stand on this resolution = unlikely to create bitterness in our relationship with US/EU.

#5: Congi won’t win Tamilnadu anyways

  • In past, UPA government had ‘political’ pressure from its allies in Tamilnadu. So, till last minute, Government will not show its cards (Whether we want to vote in favour OR against.)
  • But this time, Congress also knows their game is over, Tamils are not voting them back in power anyways. Both Karunanidhi and Jailalitha have their own plans (either third front OR Modi depending on how the wind blows.)
  • Given these reasons, government saw no reason to vote in FAVOUR of this resolution. (mind the “reasoning”= voting in favour of resolution = we are voting against Sri Lankan government)
  • At the same time, didn’t vote AGAINST this resolution = to keep our diplomatic options open for future.
  • + the next reason:

#6: Desi Tamils & Lankan Tamils are not “BEST” friends

2014 month Lankan Navy arrested ___ Indian Fishermen.
Jan 38
Feb 29
March 24
  • It was the Lankan Tamil fishermen who had been requesting Lankan NAVY to arrest Indian (Tamil) fishermen hunting in their (Lankan) territorial waters.
  • Indian and SriLankan Tamil fishermen are increasingly becoming hostile to each other for fishing right.
  • For lip service, the political parties and business organizations of Tamilnadu – they demand rehabilitation of Sri Lankan Tamils.
  • But in real life- they hardly contribute any money or manpower for this.
  • In other words, ground reality is different. The plight of Sri Lankan Tamils = gradually becoming a political rhetoric in South India (just like Ram Mandir in North India). Juntaa has moved on- the issues of the day are- employment, growth, inflation, corruption and women security. So, what Union does on Lankan issue- unlikely to affect poll outcome.

Given above reasons: India has made the right diplomatic move by abstaining from this voting.

PS: Chindu said we should have voted in favour.

Mock Question: Discuss India’s stand on the latest UNHRC resolution against Sri Lanka. Do you agree that India has fully changed its foreign policy on Sri Lanka with this? (200 words)

Key points to include

  1. What recent resolution wants: international investigation on Human rights violation during LTTE-Government war between 2002 to 2009.
  2. Why India abstained: Sovereignty, China-Pak angle, Abstain=both lines open; Ignore Congi angle.
  3. Why it is not a full ‘U-turn’ of our Sri Lankan policy: (i) even when we voted, we tried to water  down previous resolutions (ii) have always respected “sovereignty” (iii) still giving aid to Sri Lanka for Tamil rehab.

Side notes:

  1. For the latest resolution: Although India abstained from voting, still resolution was passed because 23 favour.
  2. Official name of this resolution: ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’.
  3. Navi Pillay: UN Commissioner to Human rights. She visited Sri Lanka in 2013, unhappy with progress on Tamil rehab. Told Sri Lankan government to setup a credible inquiry by 2014. Government didn’t comply, hence this new resolution in March 2014.
  4. Navi Pillay is not an Indian citizen. She was born in South Africa, has Tamil roots in India.
  5. HQ of UNHRC = Geneva
  6. Total members = 47

Visit Mrunal.org/Diplomacy for entire list articles on Diplomacy & International relations (IR) for Mains GS2 paper of UPSC Civil service IAS/IPS Exam.

Indian History Freedom Struggle Pratik Nayak

27 Comments on “[Diplomacy] UNHRC resolution against Sri Lanka: Why India abstained?”

  1. Nice article sir ! thanks

  2. thankyou for our mrunal sir!!, to do selfless work for us …….hope we all aspirants use this womderful articles to use as betterment of our prep!!!!!!!!!

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  4. great as always..!!!! thanks a lot

  5. can any1 share any links of previous question papers of SBI PO exam…plz.??

  6. thanks for this mains answer writing practice oriented series plz write static portion also with this intention

  7. Master stroke as always…

  8. Very informative mrunal sir…highly appreciated..

  9. @mrunal

    In resolution game , you have mentioned that 2012 resolution called for international enquiry. As far as i recall, there was no such mention in resolution. It called for srilanka to act on LLRC recommendations and also to further investigate other violations which were left unaddressed by LLRC. Infact one of reasons india voted then was because it was non intrusive which implies there was no international inquiry proposed in 2012 resolution.

    you may also check this for reference


    1. yes the news article says so

      1. @P_G

        what does news article say?

        This is relevant portion of news article

        “resolution asked Colombo to present expeditiously a comprehensive action plan detailing the steps to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and to address the alleged violations of international law.”

        There is no mention of demand for INTERNATIONAL ENQUIRY. infact india would have never voted if such a demand was put in resolution. It would have clearly been a case of violation of sovereignty of srilanka.

        1. yes bro, i commented in support of your comment and @Mrunal wat u say?

  10. Mrunal sir, it feels proud to be a pharmacist. What major challenges come during prep I.e. specially changing field? pl share ur experience.

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  12. Thank you while reading articles i cleared all my doubts which type of question we ll expect about rwanda genocide

  13. Simply excellent….

  14. dear sir,
    we are having our interviews of civil services and your is the only platform where we can share our thoughts. i request u to kindly create a new thread for the same so that we can discuss there.

    1. all the best for ur interview .

  15. Hii to All Fellow Aspirant… I am an Non-Delhi based student and and i can’t afford those costly Test series conducted by Coaching institutes(Due to financial iinstability).. Can Anyone can tell me where can i get Xerox of Test series for prelims 2014 at relevant price…

  16. Excellent job with clarity and qualitative knowledge….that will help in every exam…

  17. The best and much needee part in current article is that @mrunal have guided about word limit and writting skills.
    Mrunal , as a follower of yours since last 1.5 years I hv developed quite good knowledge but they real challenge which I face is expression in exam in a time-word effective manner. I dont have time to join coaching to get my this problem corrected. In mains 2013 instead of knowing answers to majority of questions I was not able attempt thoes. This is the major drawback which a non-coaching candidate use to face.
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    Grateful follower of mrunal.org

  18. 1) Arunachal Pradesh Rangiya – Murkongselek Metre Gauge line into Broad Gauge. The Capital of Arunanchal Pradesh would soon be on rail map in this financial year, as Harmuti-Naharlagun newline is expected to be commissioned shortly.

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  19. Dude, I would like to correct your understanding of MFN status(*without sounding arrogant)….MFN status only helps in removing discrimination in tariffs of items which are allowed to trade, it has no role to play in removing non-tariff barriers..hence Negative list, which pakistan and india have for eachother, will stay even after MFN status to eachother..here is a link which explains it better..http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2013/04/08/why-pakistan-hasnt-liberalized-india-trade/

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  21. Sir after prelims next step is for mains ….can u plz guide me regarding what to study and from where and how 2 divide f remaining time accordingly…vl be grateful

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