Double standards and
international law and order
cynics would say that 'We now have it from the horse's mouth.'
At a time when the progressive sections of the world are
flabbergasted at the treatment meted out to Sri Lanka by the
UNHRC over a US-sponsored resolution, a US Congresswoman is on
record as saying that the this vital UN body, which is sitting
on judgment over Sri Lanka, is a 'Rogues' Gallery'.
What are the publics of the world to make of this seemingly
scandalous pronouncement? While the US saw the UNHRC as a
virtual instrument of justice when it chose to arbitrate on
issues pertaining to Sri Lanka, it is denigrating the same
'instrument of justice' in a different but not completely
unrelated context of matters, in relation to Israel.
It could be argued that the Congresswoman concerned does not
represent the US state but that does not change the fact that
she is a prominent personality in the US administration and that
her opinions are reflective of the views of influential and
decision-making sections of the US. As External Affairs Minister
Prof G L Peiris gives us to understand, the controversial
opinion was voiced just a few hours after the resolution against
Sri Lanka was carried by a whisker-thin majority in the UNHRC.
Accordingly, we have here a crassly opportunistic and cynical
use of the UNHRC by a major power.
Apparently, the instrument that seems legitimate in the case
of Sri Lanka, is not so in the case of Israel, a staunch and
trusted ally of the West. If the UNHRC is a 'Rogue Gallery', it
is totally unfit to deliberate on issues pertaining to any
country, leave alone Israel.
As is common knowledge now, Israel has totally rejected UNHRC
moves to investigate matters pertaining to the territorial
disputes between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. So
vehemently has Israel rejected these moves that it has sworn to
sever all working links with the UNHRC. It was immediately
subsequent to this rejection that the 'Rogues' Gallery' opinion
was voiced. Going into the nitty-gritty of the Mid-East conflict
is beyond the scope of this commentary but suffice it to state
that for decades on end, the conflict has remained unresolved
and that much blood has flown.
The impact of the conflict is so deleterious that over the
years, it has had a deeply divisive impact on the world
community. Things have remained this way and are bound to remain
this way as long as the West refuses to get its act right and
fails to see the merits of the Middle East case.
Be that as it may, even-handed justice is vital to the smooth
conduct of international relations and for the fostering and
maintenance of world peace and stability. Sri Lanka has and will
always be a law-abiding member of the world community but the
perception that those international institutions which are seen
to be the instruments of peace and justice are really
double-dealing and partial, could lead to an undermining of the
credibility and reliability of these bodies.
Sri Lanka deeply values the UN system and would like to see
all measures and initiatives being taken to uphold its dignity
and credibility. No agency of the UN should be abused in any
fashion or be made to serve the partisan interests of any state.
As said before, Sri Lanka will abide by International Law and
continue to be a propagator of world peace, but she is
duty-bound to point out the need for all international
institutions to serve the principles of justice and fairplay. If
any of the UN organs are seen to be 'Rogues' Galleries', then,
they must be reformed and made effective instruments of
universal justice, by the international community.
International organizations would fail in upholding justice,
if they are seen as partial and unfair. Credibility is the key