Despite strained ties, Colombo hopes for New Delhi’s support in UNHRC

Sri Lanka is hoping to get India’s support in the ongoing 46th United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session where a strong resolution against Sri Lanka would soon be put to vote

Mar 02, 2021
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Sri Lanka is hoping to get India’s support in the ongoing 46th United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session where a strong resolution against Sri Lanka would soon be put to vote. A vote in its favor is what Colombo is expecting from India. 

In an interview to India Today, Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary Admiral (Retd) Jayanath Colombage on Monday has said that he expected India to stand by and vote in favor of Sri Lanka ahead of next week’s UNHRC sessions on the island nation’s rights and accountability record.

He also referred to India’s “Neighborhood First” policy and said the island nation expected India to stand by its southern neighbor.

"Abstention will not hamper ties between the two countries. But India’s great leader speaks of ‘Neighborhood First’. We are immediate neighbors. We are hopeful India would vote in favor of Sri Lanka," he was quoted as saying by Colombopage.

Ties between the two neighbors soared recently after the Sri Lankan government last month scrapped the 2019 tripartite agreement where India and Japan, along with Sri Lanka, were to jointly develop the Colombo port’s East Container Terminal Port.

Thereafter, Colombo also gave a contract to a Chinese firm for developing renewable energy power projects on an island close to India’s southern coast. India had registered its objection with Colombo in this regard. 

On the other hand, the Tamil right issue seems tricky for India now. Recently India said in the UNHRC that while it supports its neighbor’s "unity and territorial integrity", New Delhi remains committed to "aspirations of the Tamils of Sri Lanka for equality, justice, peace, and dignity".

Also, the assembly elections in Tamil Nadu are due this year, and voting in favor of Sri Lanka might also cost India’s ruling dispensation upcoming assembly elections in the state where the issue is considered an “emotive issue”.

"We understand Tamil Nadu elections are coming up and Sri Lanka is always an issue. So we understand. India is a great friend. We expect India to stand by Sri Lanka,” the Lankan foreign secretary said.  

“India is against country-specific resolutions. They are against so-called rapporteurs being around to judge human rights situations in other countries. I think India is moving a resolution in that regard," he added. 

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