Say it ain’t so, India.
Another “inconvenient vote” at the UNSC and another instance of India wiggling out of its responsibilities as a member of the Council. On Tuesday, India chose to abstain from a vote in the UNSC condemning the brutal suppression of human rights by the al-Assad regime. As an explanation of its vote (or lack thereof) the External Affairs Ministry released the following statement:
India’s traditional position on country specific resolutions is well known. We do not regard spotlighting and finger -pointing at a country for human right violations as helpful. We believe that engaging the country concerned in collaborative and constructive dialogue and partnership is a more pragmatic and productive way forward. This is what India along with its partners in IBSA, Brazil and South Africa has done.
However, since some members of this Council have found it necessary to propose a country specific resolution, it would have been desirable had this been done by consensus, without resorting to a vote, to reflect the shared perspective and unanimous views of the council. This has regrettably not happened.
We hope that our position on the vote is not misconstrued as condoning violations of human rights in any country, including Syria. On the contrary, we believe that it is imperative for every society to have the means of addressing human rights violations through robust mechanisms within themselves. International scrutiny should be resorted to, only when such mechanisms are non-existent or have consistently failed.
For the aforementioned reasons, India will be abstaining on the vote. [MEA]
India rationalizing its decision by pointing to Brazil and South Africa, its fellow-abstainees, is a nonstarter. For one, while Brazil and South Africa are also permanent seat aspirants, neither one of them has made as much progress as India in garnering support for a permanent seat, should the necessary structural changes be implemented in the UN.
And if India abstaining from the vote wasn’t bad enough, this is what VP Haran, India’s ambassador to Syria had to say about the brutality of the al-Assad regime (per Ms Suhasini Haider, Senior Editor, CNN-IBN):
Indian Ambassador to Syria tells CNN-IBN: some of the reports of HR violations are ‘highly exaggerated’.Of 1950 killed, 600 are security
He would later add that President al-Assad had responded to pressure and had announced a timetable for elections. Apparently, our ambassadors are turning into spokespersons for countries of their posting. It is a morally reprehensible position for India to take. Further, any ambiguity that India sought over its position on Syria should be effectively discarded, given the ambassador’s statements. And this is after the very responsible statement put out by the External Affairs Ministry in response to the Syrian Vice Foreign Minister’s visit to New Delhi seeking India’s support, earlier this month.
For the record, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights indicates that the 1,900 killed in Syria excluded the approximately 400 military and police fatalities (August 18). So much for the ambassador’s “clarification.” And India’s absence of leadership at the Security Council, or its ambassadors’ shadow fighting on behalf of oppressive regimes cannot be blamed on New Delhi’s preoccupation with l’affaire Anna Hazare.