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Feb-11-2014 15:02printcomments

'Resolution Counterproductive' Hakeem Tells UNHRC Member SA

Anti-Sri Lankan move in Geneva: US woos Japan, South Korea.

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(COLOMBO) - The US is pushing two of Sri Lanka’s major investors, Japan and South Korea to throw their weight behind its third resolution against Sri Lanka at the forthcoming session of Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

Authoritative diplomatic sources told The Island that the US was keen to secure the support of two key members of Asia-Pacific regional grouping to further weaken Sri Lanka’s position at the 47-member UNHRC. Japan abstained at last year’s vote, while South Korea backed the US move. Of the 47 countries, 25 voted for the US resolution, 13 against, eight abstained and one was absent during the vote.

The first US resolution in March 2012 was endorsed by 24 countries, while 15 opposed and eight abstained. Both Japan and South Korea didn’t figure in that resolution. India, which backed both previous resolutions too, is accommodated in the Asia-Pacific grouping. China, Pakistan, Indonesia, Kuwait, the Maldives, the Philippines and Saudi Arabia, which had voted against the resolution, last year, are also in the same grouping. The US wants India, too, to play a proactive role in its Geneva project.

Ministerial sources said that the inclusion of Vietnam in the same grouping this year would be beneficial to Sri Lanka. Sources said that newly elected UNHRC member, South Africa, too, would be under heavy pressure to vote for the resolution. South Africa was among 14 countries elected on November 12, 2014 to serve on the UNHRC for a period of three years beginning Jan. 1, 2014. Other countries are Algeria, China, Cuba, France, the Maldives, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, Saudi Arabia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Vietnam, Russia and the United Kingdom. The election was by secret ballot at the UN headquarters in New York.

The other members of the UNHRC and the end of their terms are as follows: Argentina (2015), Austria (2014), Benin (2014), Botswana (2014), Brazil (2015), Burkina Faso (2014), Chile (2014), Congo (2014), Costa Rica (2014), Cote d’’Ivoire (2015), Czech Republic (2014), Estonia (2015), Ethiopia (2015), Gabon (2015), Germany (2015), India (2014), Indonesia (2014), Ireland ((2015), Italy (2014), Japan (2015), Kazakhstan (2015), Kenya (2015), Kuwait (2014), Montenegro (2015), Pakistan (2015), Peru (2014), Romania (2014), South Korea (2015), Philippines (2014), Sierra Leone (2015), UAE (2015), USA (2015) and Venezuela (2015).

Members of the UNHRC serve for a period of three years and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms.

Although the LTTE (Diaspora) wouldn’t be able to influence Japan and South Korea, they could pressure South Africa, sources said. South Africa’s position at the UNHRC would be of pivotal importance due to its ongoing efforts to facilitate post-war national reconciliation process here. The South African effort to pave the way for a dialogue between the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the government was continuing though a section of the Tamil Diaspora (Your guess is as good as mine, who they are) were opposed to the move, sources said.

New Delhi based South African High Commissioner Geoff Doidge Thursday (Feb.6) met SLMC leader and Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem to discuss the reconciliation process and ways and means in which SA could help Sri Lanka in the national reconciliation process. The HC was accompanied by Ivor H. Jenkins, Director of Transformation Initiative Organization of South Africa. The NGO had been involved in the discussions aimed at facilitating a dialogue among the government of Sri Lanka and pro-LTTE groups.

Justice Ministry sources quoted Minister Hakeem as having told the South African duo that the international community shouldn’t push Sri Lanka too hard on the issue of accountability and the proposed US resolution would be counter-productive and detrimental to to the reconciliation process.

Having discussed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa, both parties agreed that Sri Lanka should develop its own mechanism based on experiences of other countries, including South Africa. Sources said that the South African initiative could simply collapse if it voted for the resolution which a senior External Affairs Ministry official termed a calculated bid to destabilise the country.



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