UNHRC resolutions and the politics of discomfiture
Posted on April 3rd, 2014

By Malinda Seneviratne

For Sri Lanka, the only relevant resolution at this year’s UNHRC sessions is the one tabled by the United States of America.  It is relevant because it was on (read ‘against’) Sri Lanka.  If, however, the world is serious about the UNHRC and therefore whatever resolutions are tabled, voted on, adopted or rejected, then we would see decent coverage in the international media.

 Something seems to have happened in the world of media, or rather the big name media houses in the West as well as those that are located in that political bloc for reasons of ownership or ideological bent.  There were many UNHRC resolutions. The most telling had nothing to do with Sri Lanka, namely the Pakistan-sponsored resolution on the use of drones (read, ‘Pakistan’s Resolution against the USA’) and the five resolutions on Israel.  Check the web.  BBC says nothing. Al Jazeera is silent.   
You will have to sweat a bit to find any news report on these resolutions. And yet, Al Jazeera and others in what might be called the Washington Media Bloc were all over Sri Lanka in the run up to the vote and thereafter.
A quick glance at voting patterns might explain this state of affairs. It might also tell us that nothing that happens in the UNHRC is about human rights.
The Drone Resolution, if you will, was passed with 27 voting for it, 14 abstaining and just 6 voting against it.  The wording tells a story.
“The Council urges all states to ensure that any measures employed to counter terrorism, including the use of remotely piloted aircraft or armed drones, comply with their obligations under international law in particular the principles of precaution, distinction and proportionality,” the resolution stated.”
The unnamed target of this resolution is obviously the USA for you can’t talk ‘drones’ without mentioning that country.  Now if the US voted in favor of this resolution or abides by the majority will of the UNHRC it would be a huge setback to Washington’s current strategy of domination (orchestrating internal instability and drone attacks).  It is pertinent to recall that two years ago in a side-event in Geneva the elder statesman of US politics Rev Jesse Jackson said ‘Those who own the drones violate human rights’. 
Interestingly, the USA, UK, France, Republic of Korea and Macedonia, while saying ‘yes’ to the harassment of Sri Lanka over ‘alleged’ war crimes, were conspicuous also in refusing to vote with Pakistan on the vexed issue of drone attacks.  The USA contends that the UNHRC is not the right forum to talk about drone. What, pray, is the right forum? UN-Habitat, the World Health Organization, UNICEF? We should not forget that the British and European parliaments have made it crystal clear that they want increased transparency on drone strikes.  Perhaps the relevant governments don’t care about the voice of their respective peoples, which would mean that good governance is not their piece of cake. Why then talk of such things when it comes to Sri Lanka, one wonders.
These pertinent political subtleties were missed by BBC, Al Jazeera et al and that’s no surprise since they obviously didn’t even notice that a vote had been taken on drones.  BBC’s ‘latest’ drone story has nothing to do with the UNHRC resolution. It’s about Facebook’s plans to connect the two-thirds of the world that has no net access using drones, satellites and lasers.  How lovely, how far away from people who suffer death, displacement and bereavement on account of ‘resolution drones’! 
Let’s move to Israel.  There were five resolutions relevant to that country: a) An independent international fact-finding mission on Gaza, b) Text on the HR situation in Occupied Palestinian Territory, c) Text on Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory including East Jerusalem and Syrian Golan, d) The right of Palestine people to self-determination, and e) Human rights in Syrian Golan.
All five were adopted.  The first four garnered 46 out of 47 votes while the last had 33 in favor, 1 against and 13 abstentions. Who was that stand-out ‘one’?  Why, the United States of America of course!  Did Al Jazeera have anything to say about these amazing numbers? Did BBC?  Nope.  Why not?  Well, it looks like ‘Human Rights’ is not the issue for these countries.  It looks like it is just about basic politics pertaining to the self-interests of various member states. 
So what do we have to say about people like Navy Pillay when they wear grave expressions and weep copious tears on behalf of people they think have been wrongs, never mind that some of them ‘lost’ fathers and husbands who happened to have killed dozens of people in cold blood, not to mention advocating and indulging in kidnapping, suicide attacks and other wanton acts of butchery?  What do those who cheered the ‘victory’ of the US resolution on Sri Lanka have to say about the US and the UK playing ostrich on Israel and drones?  Do they feel shy, one wonders and concludes, ‘probably not’ for reasons that are too obvious to mention. 
So what do we have to say about the UNHRC itself?  Is it an august body where serious people discuss serious issues became all those present value human life, are concerned about things like democracy, peace, justice, reconciliation etc.?  Or is it just a platform for the powerful to browbeat the weak and for the worst perpetrators of crimes against humanity to strut around as though the world has not known worthier defenders of freedom and benefactors of humankind? 
The jury is in.  The verdict is out.  Al Jazeera will not report and neither will BBC.  Says a lot about the world we live in, does it not?    
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5 Responses to “UNHRC resolutions and the politics of discomfiture”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    HYPOCRICY is the name of the game.

    We have to play it to survive.

    What benefits us is ALWAYS good.
    What doesn’t benefit us is ALWAYS bad.

    Our guys who played Elle BEFORE Brits came quickly adapted to cricket to become world champions. If we called it the Brit’s game and not played it we would be nowhere in BOTH cricket and Elle.

    So lets play their game and beat them.

  2. Nanda Says:

    Where is the patriot Susantha Wejesinghe ?

  3. aloy Says:

    All media are biased towards their owners and try to promote their agendas. So is Malinda’s. I pay equivalent of Rs. 4500.00 every month, to view BBC from ASTRO, not because of their political viewpoint but the technical content on modern trends in technology. They follow the current trends and give a very good view. If we are to be a force to recon with, this is what we should do: follow the leaders of technology. India is doing the same. To my mind Geneva is not our hurdle for development, and to become a wonder of Asia. It is the lack of foresight and good governance.

  4. aloy Says:

    Correction: “….to watch CNN, BBC etc. from ASTRO (Malaysia)….”

  5. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    This article has proved (as in many other relevant article) that the United Nations Human Rights Council places politics over anything else. I used to state that the UNHRC places politics first and human rights second. Now I have come to the conclusion that the violation of “human rights” is arbitrary, left to the power to decide if an act is a violation of human rights or not and whether it can be used for political reasons.

    This corrupt organization is further powered by the global media who choose what is relevant to be covered. Drones on Pakistan take front and center stage because a majority veto of the use of Drones would effect the US. it has nothing to do with any human rights violations that these drones have committed on the Pakistani people

    The UNHRC is extremely selective. Massive human rights violations are right now taking place in Syria which is embroiled in a bloody civil war. Yet this session hardly even addressed that nation. The same can be said of Egypt, Lebanon, Myanmar. These are ongoing human rights violations that border on acts against humanity. Yet the trumped up charges based on channel 4 which to date has not been verified is just enough to take a stand against Sri lanka.

    Considering the 30 year long war against Tamil terrorism will not be taken into account except for the end part of it one must also mention that during those 30 years of war in Sri Lanka there is an endless list of other human rights violations ranging from the Bosnian, Kosovo wars, to the Middle Eastern wars fought by the US and her NATO allies to a plethora of human rights violations across the world and spanning a period from the 1960’s to present that have been committed by the US and NATO that will never go addressed by the UNHRC.

    The question now is why is Sri Lanka a member nation of this circus act called the UNHRC. By being a member of such a disreputable organization it insinuates that Sri Lanka herself is as equally corrupt as those Western nations who decide who should be targeted and who should never be targeted. If for no other reason than to rid oneself of the scourge of being associated by a deeply flawed and corrupt organization, Sri Lanka should officially remove herself from the UNHRC giving the hypocrisy of that UNHRC as a reason that no decent, civilized nation would associate themselves with this cabal of hypocrites.

    This could pave the way for other nations to also extricate themselves from this property of the United States.

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