Voting in UNHRC: Sri Lanka

This week we look at how countries voted in the UNHRC regarding Sri Lanka. The government of then-Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa was accused of engaging in genocide against the civilian Tamil population in its military campaign to end the civil war with the terrorist Tamil Tigers.


Continuing on the topic of highlighting Latin American votes on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), this week we look at how some of the countries voted on human rights resolutions during what many believe was a genocidal campaign against Tamils in Sri Lanka, using Human Rights Watch’s Votes Count site. Of the 4 votes conducted since 2012, Latin American countries have never split their votes; they have either been 100% supportive or 100% against UNHRC actions on Sri Lanka.

Those against any human rights declarations against the government’s campaign against its Tamil population?   The countries of the ALBA alliance—Cuba, Ecuador and Venezuela. The three voted every time against any statement condemning human rights violations in the South Asian island.

The BRICS group, though, is almost evenly split. The largely constructed alliance of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa tends to position itself as a champion of non-intervention, even in matters of human rights—and in this case potentially genocide.

China and Russia were the only countries that consistently voted “no.”   India—despite its considerable Tamil population—split its vote, twice voting yes, once abstaining and once voting no, and South Africa, despite one of the strongest constitutions protecting human rights in the world, abstained from all votes.

Brazil broke with its BRICS members, supporting every human rights resolution and statement along with the other Latin American countries since 2012: Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.

Sri Lanka votes

(click to enlarge)
Please note: Each country was not necessarily on the Council for each vote, so we here represent the votes as a percentage of the total votes where they were members of the Council. For instance, Argentina voted yes on the all 3 of the 3 votes when it was a member and eligible to vote, but it was not on the Council for the 4th vote.
 A fifth vote regarding Sri Lanka was not included in the count here because it was a “no action” motion to shut down any further discussion on Sri Lanka-a vote against any further human rights action. Furthermore, the motion failed, and the subsequent resolution was passed. The two votes are exact opposites—every country that voted for the resolution voted against the no motion action.   Including it would have given non-interventionist countries such as Russia, China, Cuba and Venezuela a misleading “yes” vote in our data: a “yes” vote in this case was not in support of any human rights action but rather aimed to limit it.

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