India has hit out at the “subterranean” cover given to terrorists at the UN by China which has vetoed action against Pakistan-based masterminds of attacks on India, and demanded reforming the process of imposing sanctions on terrorists and their protectors.
Deriding the Security Council committees that deal with sanctions as a “subterranean universe” because of their secrecy, India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin on Tuesday called for opening up their voting so that those vetoing action against terrorists are made to publicly acknowledge their role.
Speaking at a Security Council debate on it working methods, he diplomatically avoided naming China but it was clear his criticism was directed at Beijing that has used the secrecy of the sanctions committee, which is one of the so-called subsidiary bodies of the Council to veto action against Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohamed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar and against Islamabad for freeing Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi.
“When a Council resolution is voted upon all of us know who votes for what and member states explain their positions,” Akbaruddin said, adding “However, in the subterranean world of subsidiary bodies there is no explanation given. No one says what is the rationale.”
“Furthermore, a rejection does not even surface in the public space,” he added. “No one indicates who specifically is not supporting a request. Indeed, proposals that can’t make it are buried without public acknowledgment that they were ever considered.”
While vetoes in the sanctions committee were ultimately leaked – as in the case of Beijing providing cover for Pakistan-based terrorists – the absence of a public record of the decision-making allows countries to avoid taking responsibility for their action.
Akbaruddin also criticised another aspect the decision-making system of the sanctions committee, where rulings have to be unanimous unlike in the Councila, where only the permanent members wield vetoes.
“While the trend now is to consider means to curtail the use of the veto in the Council’s own work,” he said, acein the subterranean universe all Council members have extended vetoes to themselves as members of Sanctions Committees.”
“The adoption of principles of anonymity and unanimity has absolved individual members of accountability,” he asserted.
When India asked the sanctions committee to add Azhar, the mastermind of the January attack on Pathankot air force base in its list of terrorists, China vetoed it even though all the other 14 members supported taking action. If the panel, popularly known as the 1267 committee after the Council’s resolution number setting it up, had acted Pakistan and other countries would have been required to freeze his assets and ban his travel.
Last June, China also blocked India’s demand for taking action under the Council’s anti-terrorism resolutions against Pakistan for freeing Lakhvi, the Lashkar-e-Taiba mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attack in which 166 people were killed.
Turning to another crucial area of interest to India, which is historically the largest provider of troops to UN peacekeeping operations, Akbaruddin called for regular and inclusive consultations between the Council, the Secretariat and the troop contributors.
The lack of such dialogues has “generated frustration on all sides and underminedathe implementation of mandates”, he said citing the case of South Sudan where more than 2,000 Indian peacekeepers are deployed.
As conditions have worsened in the civil war-torn country, Akbaruddin said, “there has been talk and suggestions about increasing the number of troops; of possible expansion of mandate; deployment of a rapid action brigade; measures for protection of civilians; and calls for an arms embargo.”
But “at no stage have there been efforts at institutionalised consultations” with troop contributors, he said.