Sri Lanka – Israel comparison of how UN/UNHRC officials treat Third World nations

UNHRC - United Nations Human Rights Council

62% of all Resolutions (over 400) at the United Nations have been against Israel. US, UK, EU not even the UN Secretary General or the UNHRC head have hounded Israel the way they have Sri Lanka. This is no exaggeration nor is it unsubstantiated but it is to highlight a very clear bias in how Third World nations are being treated by the UN system. There cannot be a global body that does not treat nations equally. Israel has over 400 Resolutions against it, UNSG never called for an Expert Panel Report, the UNHRC never demanded international investigations and no US, UK or EU nations called for international investigations or reference to the ICC either – why is the treatment for Sri Lanka any different? We are made to understand whether a nation is large or small they would be treated equally as per UN Charter itself.

Israel too have their own grievances. Israel claims the UN & UNHRC are anti-Israel. Israel complains that there is a disproportionate number of Resolutions against it. That may be true, but every Resolution brought to the UN or the UNHRC have been vetoed by the US or watered down into inaction. There are no threats of sanction, cuts in aid/trade, asset freeze, travel bans etc. Sri Lanka has not been so fortunate. Ironically, it is the same countries that do not go after Israel that are pressing for UNHRC action against Sri Lanka!

In 2010 – 5 Resolutions were brought against Israel at the UNHRC

In 2013 – 21 Resolutions were brought against Israel at the UN

There have been fact finding missions on the Gaza Conflict –

The resolutions against Israel covered:

  • Human rights violations in the occupied Syrian Golan heights
  • Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
  • Grave human rights violations by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including East Jerusalem
  • Condemning Israeli attacks against Southern Lebanon and Syria
  • Deplored Israel’s altering the status of Jerusalem
  • Demanded Israel’s withdrawal from Golan Heights
  • Condemned Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip
  • Urged sanctions against Israel if it did not withdraw from its invasion of Lebanon.
  • Urged sanctions against Israel if it did not withdraw from its invasion of Beirut
  • Urged cut off of economic aid to Israel if it refused to withdraw from its occupation of Lebanon.
  • Condemned Israeli brutality in Southern Lebanon and denounced the Israeli ‘iron fist’ policy of repression
  • Condemned Israel’s hijacking of a Libyan passenger airplane.
  • Deplored Israel’s attacks on civilian populations of Lebanon
  • Warned Israel to abide by the Fourth Geneva Conventions
  • Called for a fact-finding mission on abuses against Palestinians in Israeli-occupied lands
  • Resolution 127 recommended Israel suspended its ‘no-man’s zone’ in Jerusalem’
  • Resolution 162 urges Israel to comply with UN decisions
  • Resolution 259 deplores Israel’s refusal to accept UN mission to probe occupation
  • Resolution 347 condemned Israel for violating Lebanon’s sovereignty
  • Resolution 425 calls on Israel to withdraw its forces from Lebanon
  • Resolution 444 deplored Israel’s lack of cooperation with the UN peacekeeping forces
  • Resolution 467 deplored Israel’s military intervention in Lebanon
  • Resolution 517 censured Israel for failing to obey UN resolutions and demanded that Israel withdraw its forces from Lebanon
  • Resolution 607 and 608 deeply regretted Israel defying the UN and deporting Palestinian civilians
  • Resolution 673 deplored Israel’s refusal to cooperate with the United Nations

The issue is not about whether Israel is right or wrong, what is being conveyed is that the scores of Resolutions brought before the UN and UNHRC wherein even non-cooperation with the UN has been highlighted several times what is the action that the UN has taken? This leads to the next question could Sri Lanka have done the same and would the UN/UNHRC and the other countries that back Israel have not taken action against Sri Lanka?

Our grievance is that in defeating a terrorist movement, globally proscribed by the very countries that drafted the Resolutions against Sri Lanka are continuing to hound Sri Lanka with baseless allegations that keeping piling with allegations that were never included into the original list of allegations. Moreover many other irregularities have also been taking place. The most serious is and continues to be the appointment of an advisory panel by the UNSG in his personal capacity which ended up being the basis on which the UNHRC’s reports and UNHRC resolutions were formulated.

At another level, the Israel Government has been continuously lambasting the UN and UNHRC even going so far as to call it a ‘kangaroo court’ but the most recent has been the international inquiry opened by UNHRC into Israeli violations committed during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.

If Sri Lanka felt every right to militarily defeat LTTE terrorists, Israel to feel it has every right as a democratic state to respond to violations by Hamas.

While Israel is always assured of America’s veto and at least 17-20 countries abstaining from voting, Sri Lanka’s case is often dismal as most of these powerful nations end up resorting to give a call of threat and Sri Lanka loses even those that have assured support to Sri Lanka. While US always vetoes Resolutions against Israel UK and EU either abstains or rejects Resolutions against Israel – this they do whether Israel does right or wrong.

The issue is that these very same countries end up giving hundred and one reasons why Sri Lanka should face war crimes charges but insists on punitive action against Sri Lanka completely ignoring the fact that Sri Lanka was dealing with an internationally declared terrorist outfit.

Why is it that the US, UK and EU take the side of Israel when Israel says that Hamas is committing war crimes by firing at innocent Israeli civilians, turning hospitals into military command centres (which LTTE also did), using schools as weapons depots (which LTTE also did), placing weapons in homes and religious places (which LTTE also did) but UNHRC investigation on Sri Lanka has only a selected period of victims covered ignoring most of the victims that the LTTE targeted through its initial years of terror.

If Israel can pull up Hamas for systematically using ‘human shields and blaming Israel for the deaths’ why can’t Sri Lanka say the same of the LTTE though UNHRC have paid little attention to this fact except making a passing comment on it.

UNHRC will be quick to defend itself by saying that it appointed the South African judge Richard Goldstone, but Israel says that the Goldstone Report was renounced by its own author.

Of course the UNHRC heads have condemned Israel, Navi Pillay issued her customary statements almost identical with her statements on Sri Lanka “These are just a few examples where there seems to be a strong possibility that international humanitarian law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes.”

If Israel can say that Hamas was using these same homes and hospitals to store weapons and carry out attacks against Israeli civilians using Palestinian civilians as human shields, was this not what the LTTE did as well? Pillay’s response to Israel’s allegations was that ‘civilian homes are not legitimate targets unless they are being used for or contribute to military purposes at the time in question….even where a home is identified as being used for military purposes, any attack must be proportionate, offer a definite military advantage in the prevailing circumstances at the time and precautions must be taken’. When Israel asks Pillay if she would act proportionately if her home were under terrorist attack and what precautions she would take, can’t Sri Lanka ask the same question?

Israel also questions UNHRC’s determination of International law and asks what UNHRC has done about Hamas violating it in targeting Israeli civilians – the same question Sri Lanka has been asking for 3 decades too. If Israel asks ‘would it be too much to ask Pillay to empathize with the millions of Israeli civilians under rocket fire and the dozens of young Israeli soldiers killed or wounded’ can Sri Lanka not say the same for the thousands of civilians that the LTTE targeted since the 1980s wherein the UN did nothing to stop terrorism in Sri Lanka but have got into a twist because the LTTE is now out of the equation.

What is being conveyed is that despite both the UN and UNHRC drafting Resolutions and issuing statements against Israel and these have run into over 400 and even appointing fact finding missions and investigations, not only Israel can get away by calling them ‘kangaroo courts’ but US will always use its veto power and US and EU nations will back Israel no matter what. These very nations that back Israel no matter what, are hounding Sri Lanka for the same allegations that they ignore against Israel.

While Israel can refer to UNHRC’s investigations as ‘kangaroo courts’ and neither the UN Secretary General or the UNHRC head make any public statements against Israel, we like to cite the stark difference in the behaviour of both UN/UNHRC officials against Sri Lanka.

When Sri Lanka brought to the attention of the UN/UNHRC the arrest of the LTTE cadre who had with him 6 blank submission forms with signatures and no date, it was clear that there was a systematic effort to collect signatures on blank forms and for another party to fill forged accounts and submit to the UNHRC/OISL investigation. Instead of thanking the GOSL for bringing this to the attention of the UNHRC/OHCHR and OISL, the UNHRC head reprimanded Sri Lanka and accused the country of going to ‘extraordinary lengths to sabotage an impartial international investigation’ and not only that going to the extent of saying that Sri Lanka has been uncooperative since 2009.

“Instead it raises concerns about the integrity of the government in question. Why would governments with nothing to hide go to such extraordinary lengths to sabotage an impartial international investigation?” Zeid asked

“The Secretary‑General supports the views of High Commissioner Zeid and he agrees with High Commissioner Zeid that the Government of Sri Lanka should cooperate.  And we will continue to urge that they do so,” Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General Farhan Haq.

Nonetheless, it is interesting to see what the reaction of the UNHRC would be now that Israel as rejected the UNHRC international investigation and calling it a ‘kangaroo court’ as well.

What is highlighted however, is that a colossal amount of time and energy is being wasted in drafting Resolutions against Israel when the outcome of nothing happening is clear and on Israel’s part it too has every right to question UNHRC inaction on Hamas. Then we have the same countries that ensure Resolutions against Israel never get beyond drafting and holding elections while the same countries are hounding after Sri Lanka and the UNHRC head and UNSG are careful not to issue derogatory statements against Israel but does so against Sri Lanka!

– by Shenali D Waduge