I woke up this morning stunned at the following news:
Sri Lanka last night scored a major propaganda coup when the UN human rights council praised its victory over the Tamil Tigers and refused calls to investigate allegations of war crimes by both sides in the final chapter of a bloody 25-year conflict. In a shock move, which dismayed western nations critical of Sri Lanka’s approach, the island’s diplomats succeeded in lobbying enough of its south Asian allies to pass a resolution describing the conflict as a “domestic matter that doesn’t warrant outside interference”.
The UN also criticized the Tamil Tigers for using civilians as human shields in addition to supporting the Sri Lankan government’s decision to restrict international aid groups’ access to refugee camps.
The decision has already come under fire from human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Human Rights Watch condemned the UN decision as one that had failed victims:
The United Nations Human Rights Council on May 27 passed a deeply flawed resolution on Sri Lanka that ignores calls for an international investigation into alleged abuses during recent fighting and other pressing human rights concerns, Human Rights Watch said today. The council held a special session on May 26 and 27, 2009, on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, a week after the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) by government forces.
“The Human Rights Council did not even express its concern for the hundreds of thousands of people facing indefinite detention in government camps,” said Juliette de Rivero, Geneva advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “The council ignored urgent needs and wasted an important chance to promote human rights… It is deeply disappointing that a majority of the Human Rights Council decided to focus on praising a government whose forces have been responsible for the repeated indiscriminate shelling of civilians,” said de Rivero. “These states blocked a message to the government that it needs to hear, to ensure access to displaced civilians and uphold human rights standards. They undermined the very purpose of the council.”
As for how this happened, the resolution passed with 29 votes in favor, 12 against, and 6 abstentions. The 12 votes that were seeking a more critical resolution included [corrected] Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; the countries that led efforts to push the resolution forward in its present form included Brazil, Cuba, India, and Pakistan.
The news of the decision (posted in the news feed) is still recent, so I’m sure we’ll hear more reactions in the next few hours. [Updated: the actual resolution can be found here. Thanks, ptr_vivek]