Ignoring Accountability and Focusing on Marketing Campaigns Led to the UNHRC Debacle
Posted on March 28th, 2014

Dilrook Kannangara

UNHRC 2014 was the worst ever for Sri Lanka. However, it was the best in Lanka’s media response.

 If we fail to learn from history, we will repeat historical mistakes. It is extremely difficult for us to accept defeat and even more difficult to accept the fallibility of our strategy. But UNHRC voting has laid it bare.
Only 12 members voted against the resolution. It is a worsening situation. In 2012 Sri Lanka received 15 votes for its case and 13 in 2013. However, in 2014 only 12 voted for Sri Lanka. Obviously the case for Sri Lanka has got worsened since 2012.
Marketing campaigns, as expected, failed to make any impact. It was downright ridiculous on the part of the government of Sri Lanka to rely primarily on marketing campaigns to deliver the goods. Though important, it is not the most important.
 Voting at UNHRC followed realpolitik, not human rights concerns. Marketing campaigns cannot have even a dent on realpolitik.
Tamil Groups Scaled Down Propaganda and Focused on Legal Aspects of Accountability This Time
 It was interesting that Tamil Nadu, Tamil diaspora and Tamils in Sri Lanka were eerily silent this time compared to previous years. What’s more intriguing is this silence comes in the backdrop of a keenly contested Indian election which generally ramps up ethnic identities. There is a good reason behind this relative eerie silence. Tamils correctly identified marketing campaigns don’t cut the cheese this time. Instead they focused on the legal aspects of accountability.
An established Northern Provincial Council was a huge boon for their case. Legal luminaries including but not limited to Wigneswaran, Sambandan and Sumanthiran concentrated heavily on the accountability issue. UNHRC High Commissioner carried out a fact finding mission on ground to build the case for accountability focus. It was all too well known the focus this time would be more of the legal intricacies of accountability than ever before.
 However, sadly the Sri Lankan camp was quick to grab marketing campaigns and protest marches ditched by Tamils.
 Accountability, the Elephant in the Room
 Accountability was the key issue leading up to the 2014 resolution and the resolution passed is all about accountability much more than reconciliation.
A domestic investigation should have been carried out by Sri Lanka according to the rules of armed conflict into the conduct of the LTTE, TNA and other Tamil parties that abetted the LTTE, Tamil diaspora, NGOs and security forces. In that event, it would have not left any mandate for the OHCHR to carryout an investigation. A domestic investigation would also have given it more objectivity as the OHCHR is prejudiced against Sri Lanka. Further, a domestic one would have expanded the timeframe of the investigation from 1983 (post-Sansoni) to 2009 and not narrowed down to 2002 to 2009.
 An accountability investigation into LTTE and affiliates should have given Sri Lanka a bargaining tool to approach western European governments with a realpolitik tool. Most LTTE finances and weapons came from Western Europe and LTTE terrorists are still in hiding in Europe. It would have silenced very vocal TNA particularly a LTTE war widow who made several trips to Geneva.
Not focusing on accountability within a framework of laws of war (armed conflict) has now landed Sri Lanka in a very vulnerable situation. OHCHR will carryout another biased investigation focusing narrowly on the events from 2002 to 2009. It will draw from the Darusman Report and OHCHR’s report this year. It will discount the context within which the war was fought ignoring human shields, terrorists in civilian clothing, Tamils using hospitals and schools to launch attacks and other crucial issues in shifting culpability.
 Way Forward: A Parallel Investigation
Sri Lanka must carryout a parallel investigation into the acts of the LTTE, Tamil political parties, Tamil diaspora, NGOs and security forces from 1983 to 2014. All war time acts must be assessed based on rules of war. All acts of terror should be included in the investigation. UN resolutions on financing terrorism should also form part of the legal framework. Tamil diaspora financing of terrorism after (emphasised) the passage of UN resolution in 2002 becomes critically important. According to reputed Janes Defence Weekly, Tamil diaspora remitted a net of $200 – $300 million to LTTE coffers in 2005.
The fluid connection between the LTTE and Tamil political parties is also an avenue to investigate.
 Obstacles to ethnic integration including Thesawalamei Law that prevents non-Malabar persons from acquiring land in the north, resistance against resettlement of Sinhalese and Muslims in the north and other antagonistic Tamil approaches should also be classified as matters leading to crimes. Formation of Tamil racism since 1911 (from the time an artificial ethnic group by the name ‘Ceylon Tamils’ was created as a census category should be investigated where relevant to the conduct of Tamil political parties in promoting racism and confrontational policies.
Accountability is about opening up old wounds. However, the choice is not between to open old wounds or not to open. The choice is who opens them. OHCHR opens old wounds with the intent to bleed them again as she is prejudicial against Sri Lanka. A government accountability mechanism would not bleed old wounds but would only delay their healing. Between the two evils, the lesser evil must be chosen.

17 Responses to “Ignoring Accountability and Focusing on Marketing Campaigns Led to the UNHRC Debacle”

  1. stanley perera Says:

    All racist Tamils including TNA and Nadoos together with Rayappu and the basturds carried out an enormous campaign with the filthy and stinking b…. Pillai woman while Goliath the American spent their full steam to get the resolution passed. For a small nation what we achieved is enormous. But it is not good enough. SL could have done more and more with personal attacks on stinking Pillai woman.

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    Not entirely true.

    SL tried other avenues too but some failed.

    “Mexico reneges on promise; three Asian countries switch sides US-sponsored UNHRC against Sri Lanka
    March 28, 2014, 10:29 pm

    By Shamindra Ferdinando

    Much to the surprise of the Sri Lankan delegation at the ongoing session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Mexico, voted for Thursday’s US-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka in spite of its promise to skip the vote in return for Sri Lanka’s support to get elected to the rights body.

    Mexico was among the 14 countries elected through secret ballot on November 12, 2013 to serve on the UNHRC for a period of three years beginning on 01 January 2014. Others were Algeria, China, Cuba, France, the Maldives, Morocco, Namibia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Vietnam, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

    Geneva based diplomatic sources told The Island that Mexico had promised Sri Lanka that it would dissuade the US from moving a resolution at the UNHRC and in case the Obama administration went ahead with its move, it would abstain.”


  3. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Sri Lanka should take a page from Israel and exit the UNHRC. The United Nations Human Rights Council is an ugly joke of corrupt officials who use geopolitics to justify the selective actions taken by that corrupt body. There is no rational reason to the way the UNHRC functions. Nations deemed out of condemnation include European nations, The US to Arab nations. No matter how horrendous are the acts of human rights violations the US is NEVER HELD ACCOUNTABLE. The US alone has commited terrible acts of genocide during the Vietnam war when the US military used chemical weapons such as Agent Orange to Napalm on citizens and soldiers alike. It was meant to destroy forests and ended up destroying every living thing which came in contact with these chemical weapons.

    the UK’s handling of the Irish Republican army and the Irish uprising goes without any question. France’s experiment of her thermonuclear bombs on the Bimini islands that destroyed the homeland of those people including their history and culture is never mentioned. This double standard continues to this day as the UNHRC spends a disproportionate amount of time on Sri Lanka while in Syria over a 150 thousand CITIZENS have been killed by the government, In Egypt the extermination of the Coptic Christians does not even get a mention. In Myanmar thousands of Bangladeshi Muslims who have lived in Myanmar for generations are now summarily thrown out into the ocean or face death while their villages are burnt to the ground.


    The president of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Laura Dupuy Lasserre responded Monday to media reports of Israel’s intention to cuts all contacts with the council, saying that if confirmed, it would be “most regrettable.”
    A senior diplomatic official earlier said that the Foreign Ministry had decided to cut off all contacts with the council. Lasseere, however, said that she had not received official confirmation of Israel’s decision, which comes on the heels of the UNHRC vote to send a fact-finding mission to the West Bank to probe the impact of the settlements of Palestinian human rights.
    “The Human Rights Council has always valued Israel’s participation, which has included its very constructive role in its Universal Periodic Review,” she added. “Moreover, Israel has on many occasions contributed to the work of the Council, including debates on certain countries in the region, such as Syria, and Libya.”

    Israel has had enough of the hypocrisy of the UNHRC. Time for Sri Lanka to exit this body of hypocrites using their power to selectively attack Sri Lanka over and over again for the sole purpose to facilitate the creation of Eelam

  4. stanley perera Says:

    Gutless, Spinless and senceless GoSL will not have enough strength to exit UNHRC. There is no personal integrity as such because Battaramulla is full of Kuddas. Gampolaya is shameless bugger to hang on to the post while his son is spending through his nose a colosal amount of drug money on the PC election while Tution master is Fu….g to the glory after his son killing a pedestrian. No bugger in the Battaramula den will leave even their mothers rise from their graves. Colombo is the distribution centre for heroin to the world. One harlf of them are funded and sponsored by the RAW. The other harlf is funded and sponsored by the American Embassy in Colombo. Vasu Dewaya wants all the sign boards in the North and East with the prominent place for the Tamil Language and the second place for the Sinhala language. This Vasuwa is the number one enemy to the Sinhala Buddhists.

  5. Nanda Says:

    Vesadeva in B-I-L of Bijjeswaran.

  6. Nanda Says:

    “Sri Lanka must carryout a parallel investigation into the acts of the LTTE, Tamil political parties, Tamil diaspora, NGOs and security forces from 1983 to 2014.”

    How about Endia’s role of financing and training the original terrorists ?
    How about the role of RAW ?

  7. Ratanapala Says:

    The voting pattern clearly outlines that it is the Christian West that is out to bring about regime change in Sri Lanka. The role of the Christian church which runs with the hares and hunts with the hounds should not be discounted for a minute here.

    Those voted in support of Sri Lanka are the Asian countries, the Arab countries and the Socialist countries.

    This is not about Democracy, Human Rights or Reconciliation in Sri Lanka. This is about regime change to suit the Christian West, just like in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Syria. The final goal is regime change and balkanisation of India. The Indian idiots are still fantasising on hegemony in South Asia. Just like America is hated around the globe by friend and foe alike, India is hated by all her neighbours. India elected to abstain from the vote only after realising very much late in the game what it is all about. Clinton woman did not fly direct to Chennai for nothing!

    Christian West is out to destroy the world. The best evidence is the state of the once prospering countries -Iraq, Libya, Egypt and Syria. This is the type of democracy that they want to bring about in Sri Lanka too!

  8. Lorenzo Says:

    USA attacks UNHRC over anti-Israel resolutions!!!

    “The United States on Friday issued a scathing attack against the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday for its continued biased treatment of Israel and charged that the council was harming the peace process.

    America was the sole country to vote against five anti-Israel resolutions with the UNHRC approved on Friday afternoon as it met in Geneva at the close of its 25th session.

    Four of the five resolutions attacked Israel’s treatment of Palestinians over the pre-1967 lines and were approved 46 to 1.

    The fifth resolution that dealt with Israel’s continued presence on the Golan Heights, and its treatment of the Syrian population that lives there, passed with the approval of 33 nations. There were 13 abstentions and one vote against it.

    The US took particular issue with the council’s Agenda Item 7, which mandates that Israel must be debated at every UNHRC session. Israel is the only country with such a standing agenda item.

    “We are deeply troubled once again to be presented with a slate of one sided resolutions that undermine efforts to make progress in the negotiations,” said Paula Schriefer, who heads the US Delegation to the UNHRC.

    She noted in particular that the US remains “deeply troubled by the council’s stand alone agenda item directed against Israel and by the many repetitive and one sided resolutions under this agenda item.”

    “None of the world’s worst human rights violators, some of whom are the objects of resolutions at this session have their own stand alone agenda item at this council,” Schriefer said.

    “Only Israel, a vibrant and open democracy, received such treatment,” Schriefer said.

    “Especially disturbing is this council complacency with the repeated introduction of a resolution focusing on the Golan Heights,” said Schriefer.

    “To consider such a resolution while the Syrian regime continues to slaughter its own citizens exemplified the absurdity of this agenda item and each of the other resolution on Agenda item 7,” Schriefer said.

    She explained that the US supported the Palestinian’s right to self determination but that it did not believe these resolutions helped advance a two state solution or the peaceful resolution of the conflict.

    Schriefer noted that the US provided financial and technical assistance to the Palestinian people and was the largest donor to UNRWA.

    The Foreign Ministry was not present at the council meeting due to its ongoing strike.”


    How true about SL!! USA repeatedly attacks SL at the UNHRC but when others bring 5 RESOLUTIONS against Israel and pass it USA gets spikes up its arse.


    Karma! Karma!

    5 times!!

  9. RohanJay Says:

    Mr Bernard Wijesinghe. Isreal is not singled out. It gets special treatment. If it was singled out how come US brings resolution against SL but no resolution against Isreal. Why is everyone so supportive on these forums of Isreal. Remember Isreal was playing both sides in the SL Conflict they were training and arming the SL military and LTTE. This was revealed by former Isreali Intelligence agent Victor Ostrovsky. I know this as this was common knowledge among Sri Lankans in the 1980s when I was living there.
    I stand with the majority of the Isreali people, Isreali Military forces refuseniks and brave whistle blowers like Mordechai Vanunu who exposed Isreal’s illegal Nuclear weopons program and Victor Ostrovsky for exposing the nefarious activities of Mossad around the world. I stand with them in exposing corruption in Isreal and wanting to create a better more peaceful world.

  10. douglas Says:

    Our Government has categorically stated that it rejects the US Sponsored Resolution and today as per the news one of the members of the Sri Lanka delegates also most eloquently said that we will not co-operate in any attempt to institute an “Investigation” by the the UNHRC. GOOD and VERY ENCOURAGING. I hope this will NOT confine only to issuing statements.

    It is yet too premature to comment on what steps would be taken by our Government on this “DEBACLE”. However, it is most opportune at the present moment to undertake a “FORENSIC AUDIT”of Governance of the affairs of the country and direct the course on to a HONORABLE PATH; but not to “IMPRESS” these International Bullies. That Honorable Path must be people friendly, sustainable and take our country to glory. To do that, MR must entrust the tasks of the Governmental affairs in the hands of a team of dedicated people with knowledge, experience, trained and above all well disciplined and who at no time compromise and subjugate to any type of pressure brought from within or outside.

    Dilrrok: You have referred to “Marketing Campaign” conducted at Geneva. You would have noticed how Maxico voted in spite of assurances to us of support in lieu of our support for their entry to the UNHRC. This is a glaring example of our “FAILURE” to make assessments of international situations.

    In about a month ahead of Geneva affairs, both US President and the Prime Minister of Canada had long ranging discussions of negotiations on NAFTA and it was at these meetings both the leaders held a bet on the winnings of their respective hockey teams at the Winter Olympic in Sochi. The bet was a case of beer. Did we take this background situations into account in negotiations on the side line with the delegated of Maxico? Do any person with an atom of brains, knowledge and experience in international relations will ignore the importance of these meetings of the three countries and the influence these two big bullies (US & Canada) would have brought to bear?

    Above is one example among many others, including that of India. India won by abstaining. Even before any type of assessment of their “diplomatic move”, MR gave orders to release all the Indian poachers and release their boats and the Indian coast guards are on their way to take away the boats. There is more to it than this and let us discuss in time to come.

  11. Fran Diaz Says:

    It was a WIN for Sri Lanka at the UNHRC, considering the the size of the country and the fact that Lanka is classified as a developing country. It was WIN for Lanka, considering that this small country has been hounded out of its senses for decades of terrorist misery due to LTTE Tamil Caste wars riding on Cold Wars, and political ideology wars (JVP). CHANGE had to come to Lankas society but not with so much strife.

    Any UNHRC voting pattern will get worse for Lanka if we keep to the same path as earlier re importing LABOR from Tamil Nadu, one way or another, and depending on the goodwill of the Tamil Diaspora and foreign countries with vested interests.

    Do NOT depend on any UNHRC vote to bring justice and wellbeing to Sri Lankans. What matters is the People of Lanka, their good health and happiness, and also Lanka citizens’ goodwill toward the country that nurtures them all, Sri Lanka.


    re-print here :

    Mexico has ‘unexpectedly’ turned away from supporting Lanka at the UNHRC.

    I would assume that Mexico will always support US aspirations and not Sri Lankan wishes. Mexico is America’s southern neighbor with a neighbor’s dependency on wealthy America. Sri Lanka ought not to depend on the US neighbors, Mexico or Canada, or any western countries hosting the Tamil Diaspora, re justice for Lanka in the ‘Tamil Problem’ matters.

    The ‘Tamil Problem’ is not in Sri Lanka. It is in Tamil Nadu in the form of Caste/poverty. Sri Lanka is being USED for the dual purpose of solving Tamil Caste/poverty problems of TN, plus satisfy vested interests. False allegations are being used to achieve these objectives. Objectives viewed as inimical to Lanka are being put in place prior to Indian elections which most probably will bring in the BJP. The BJP is not for Eelam. The BJP is for 100 Smart Cities in India which action will most probably dilute the whole Caste/poverty problem there.

    Looking at the brighter side of matters, the new UNHRC vote will see to it that Sri Lanka closes her doors on dependency on TAMIL LABOR from Tamil Nadu. This means cutting the umbilical cord to Tamil Nadu which is the place where Tamil Problems are created through the Caste/poverty bind. At a future date, fairly soon, New Smart Cities will dilute that problem in Tamil Nadu.

    Self Sufficiency, Self Dependency is best for Lanka, same as for other places.


    “Mexico reneges on promise; three Asian countries switch sides
    US-sponsored UNHRC against Sri Lanka
    March 28, 2014, 10:29 pm – ISLAND

    By Shamindra Ferdinando

    Much to the surprise of the Sri Lankan delegation at the ongoing session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Mexico, voted for Thursday’s US-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka in spite of its promise to skip the vote in return for Sri Lanka’s support to get elected to the rights body.

    Mexico was among the 14 countries elected through secret ballot on November 12, 2013 to serve on the UNHRC for a period of three years beginning on 01 January 2014. Others were Algeria, China, Cuba, France, the Maldives, Morocco, Namibia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Vietnam, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

    Geneva based diplomatic sources told The Island that Mexico had promised Sri Lanka that it would dissuade the US from moving a resolution at the UNHRC and in case the Obama administration went ahead with its move, it would abstain.

    Asked whether the Sri Lankan government had raised the issue with Mexico, authoritative sources revealed that Mexico justified its action on the basis its representatives tried to soften the language of the resolution titled ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka.’ Sources said that the Mexican claim was nothing but laughable when the resolution meant to empower the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to investigate alleged wartime atrocities during the last phase of the war.

    The resolution received the backing of 22 countries. Being a member of the UNHRC comprising 47 countries, the US was also able to vote for its own resolution. Twelve countries voted against while 12 abstained.The first US resolution was endorsed in 2012 with 24 countries voting for and 15 against while eight countries abstained. In the following year, 25 countries backed the second US resolution while 13 countries opposed, eight abstained and one didn’t even turn up (Gabon).

    Sources said that the situation in Geneva would have been much better this year if Kuwait, the Philippines and Indonesia remained on Sri Lanka’s side. All three had abstained due to heavy US pressure, sources said, adding that the Philippines couldn’t have disappointed the US particularly in view of President Barack Obama’s impending visit to Manila. Obama is scheduled to visit Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines in April this year.

    Obama visited Indonesia last October.

    Sources said that Japan abstained though many expected the government of Japan to throw its weight behind the US project in the backdrop of Obama’s impending visit to Tokyo. Much to the discomfort of the US administration, Japan skipped the vote on Sri Lanka last year too.

    Morocco too, had been subjected to intense pressure compelling the government to abstain though it earlier indicated readiness to back Sri Lanka, sources said.

    A senior government official said that the US hadn’t recently resorted to such tactics, canvassing for three consecutive years against one country. “We are actually surprised. In fact some of those who had supported US resolutions too, privately expressed surprise over US efforts against a friendly country,” the official said.

    The US provided vital assistance by way of critically important intelligence which led to the sinking of four LTTE vessels on the high seas in late 2007, thereby helped Sri Lanka to bring the war to a successful conclusion in May 2009″.

  12. Sooriarachi Says:

    I believe the marketing campaign was an integral part of the overall campaign to convey the message to nations not well versed with Sri Lanka’s internal politics, that there are large groups of Sri Lankans living overseas, who have a strong opposing view to that of the separatists. Also, Tamil separatists had already done their marketing campaigns both overtly and covertly in the previous years and this year they focussed more on a covert campaign, as they had confidence the heavy weights US,UK,EU together with AI, HRW, ICJ would deliver sufficient votes through intimidation and coercion of weaker and ignorant nations, on top of the EU bloc vote of 12 voiceless nations.
    I agree that an investigation by the OHCR is a non-starter, as people like Navi Pillay or any nominees by her like Yasmin Sooka will be highly biased individuals, who just cannot perform the duty entrusted. In any case, no self respecting nation should agree to an investigation by the OHCR or a foreign nation.
    I also agree that the way forward would be to have a parallel investigation, with extra focus on issues the OHCR would obviously try to ignore.

  13. Marco Says:

    It is regrettable that the author uses the words “Marketing Campaign” in diplomacy. Perhaps, it is the buzz word introduced by our Monitoring member of External Affairs. Diplomatic Lobbying in highlighting our strengths and admitting to and learning from mistakes within the closed doors of foreign affairs would have brought better results.
    We have employed the likes of Bell Pottinger (who boast of a very high success rate) and more recently TAG to lobby for SL without much success.
    Dilrook is right that the Tamil Diaspora propaganda machinery sat back and let GOSL do all the leg work knowing it would shoot itself in the foot by dangling carrots. This was quite transparent after CHOGM. Equally, the TD Groups sit back and milk off the BBS/ Ravana shenanigans, hence we see the UNHRC resolutions widening to include religious harmony like we saw the Independence of the Judiciary a year ago soon after the Chief Justice saga.

    India, has played a very clever diplomatic game by abstaining and putting out statements such as “intrusive” etc.
    India does not want any other country overseeing or leading any international inquiry into its closest neighbor (Sri Lanka) especially its own actions during the conflict.
    By abstaining India (and South Africa) has opened itself out to be clear favorite to lead/head any international inquiry should there be one appointed in the not too distant future.

  14. aloy Says:

    Little by little we are inching towards the international investigation and there are those that are directing us towards that, like the above comment persuading us to their agenda in a subtle way. Perhaps MR too will eventually consent just to rule one more term or even one more day without much trouble. Eventually who will be the guilty party- our war heroes or the entire Sinhela nation.
    Who actually want international investigation?. It is none other than UK. All other EU countries, the poodles except France and Germany that depend on the dole from IMF have only their interest. We must not let any of these buggers to enter our country for investigations as we very well know there was no war crimes, it was just a humanitarian effort to get rid of terrorism and give human rights to 21 million people.

  15. Nanda Says:

    “MR too will eventually consent just to rule one more term or even one more day without much trouble.”

    This is what the GREATEST BETRAYER OF THE HISTORY wants, no more no less.
    After killing thousands of Sinhale children for nothing, this bugger will simply remain in power, handing over the land to Sakkilis, just as RuilNil did without killing the children.

    Now he almost started to declare “INDIA IS OUR FRIEND” for abstaining, ignoring and betraying China and Russia who VOTED for US. SAM_MARA_SINGH already saying this nonsense.
    1. More Endian Embassies will spring up
    2. More Gopis, Anandis and Bjjes will start poisoning the Tamils
    3. Army will shift to Anuradhapura
    3. Sinhalas will be restricted to south
    4. Eelaam will be created by the hero Nondi-Pillay rather than Velu-Pillay

    What a tragedy ?

    Time to wake up and send the buggers to home first and then to war crime tribunal.

  16. Nanda Says:

    Voted for us ( not US).

  17. douglas Says:

    Marco: You said “Marketing Campaign .. Perhaps it is the buzz word introduced by our Monitoring member of External Affairs”.

    You hit the nail on the head. Very many of these “Marketing Campaigns” introduced to MR regime by this man will come to light in the near future. At the 2013 sessions we had another man; but this time he was missing. I understand he is hidden somewhere in Australia. These are the types of “goons” who have ruined MR and unfortunately for us he does not and makes no attempt to see their hidden agenda.

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