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FeaturesNewsSri Lanka battle field change to UNHRC

Sri Lanka battle field change to UNHRC

For Sri Lanka, the battleground has shifted from the Wanni jungles to the cool precincts of Geneva, where the United Nations Human Rights Council is meeting. Here it is trying to defeat a resolution — drafted by the United States of America and now being considered by the council — that calls for Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission within a time frame and start investigations into human rights violations during the 2009 war that were overlooked by the LLRC.
The Mahinda Rajapaksa government has taken umbrage at the tabling of the “country-specific” resolution, which is seen as evidence of the West’s constant attempt to bully Sri Lanka in the international fora. This, the Rajapaksa regime believes, is part of the West’s larger strategic design in the Indian Ocean region to counter Chinese influence. Sri Lanka has initiated its own campaign through diplomatic channels to win support in the world forum, and through less sophisticated attempts at home to whip up patriotic sentiments. The campaign is paying off. The fury against the West’s perceived deviousness is evident on the streets and has forced the Tamil National Alliance, which had asked for an international inquiry into war crimes, to denounce the UNHRC resolution. Sri Lanka is also sure of the backing of countries such as Russia, China and India that have expressed their reservations against country-specific resolutions and their preference for the routine ‘universal periodic review’.

For India, however, the support for Sri Lanka in Geneva may come at a price. Political parties in Tamil Nadu have warned the Centre against the move, and given the perilous condition of the United Progressive Alliance government, it cannot afford to overlook the sentiment. But it is not merely because of the weakening of the UPA that pro-Tamil sentiments have grown stronger. India cannot deny that the diplomatic and material support given by it to Sri Lanka has not translated into any constructive move towards a political resolution of the ethnic problem. The Rajapaksa government continues to hedge on the implementation of the LLRC recommendations and is almost evasive about its promise to implement the 13th amendment. India should perhaps take stock of its diplomatic strategy in Sri Lanka.


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