Today at the U.N. Human Rights Council, debate continued at the special session on Sri Lanka, where ten thousand civilians have been killed since December, and hundreds of thousands are in dire need, as explained at the session’s opening yesterday by High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.
Still, several continued to complain that the session is unnecessary, with Arab and Muslim states additionally trying to change the subject by bringing up, expressly or by implication, conflict situations involving Israel, or Western states in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Syria said, “We are surprised that a special session is being held now. We see no justification for it. It is clearly an intervention in the internal affairs of a developing sovereign state. It is ironic that those who called for this session turn a blind eye to the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Israeli occupation in the occupied Arab territories.” He called this a “clear policy of selectivity.”
Algeria said the Human Rights Coucil should be similarly moved by conflicts affecting populations in Asia and the Middle East where “drones hit 2% of their targets, 98% are collateral losses” (reference to U.S. in Pakistan?), and where white phosphorous is used against civilian populations (reference to Israel). It regretted that the council is “hindered by double standards which limit its universality. Some are called to account and not others.”
In fact, the council has devoted no less 5 out its 11 special sessions to condemning Israel, including the most recent one in January on the Gaza conflict. Many of the current special session’s Latin American sponsors voted in favor of one-sided resolutions that condemned Israel without even mentioning Hamas attacks. The EU abstained on, or opposed, those resolutions because of their one-sidedness, though they also condemned Israeli actions in their speeches. Virtually all of the current session’s sponsors have condemned the Tamil Tigers, along with the Sri Lankan government.
The only double standard is the fact that the council has ignored Sri Lanka’s abuses to date, and is currently treating Columbo with kid gloves.