India stood alone abstaining on a Security Council resolution backed in a show of consensus by the Western countries as well as China and Russia, warning it could allow the diversion of aid to terrorist groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).
The resolution adopted on Friday with the support of all the other 14 members exempts the provision of what it calls “humanitarian assistance” from UN sanctions imposed on terrorist groups for two years.
After abstaining, India’s Permanent Representative Ruchira Kamboj called the move a “mockery” of the UN sanctions on terrorist groups and warned, “Such exemptions must not facilitate ‘mainstreaming’ of terror entities in the political space in our region”.
“There have also been several cases of terrorist groups in our neighbourhood, including those listed by this Council, re-incarnating themselves as humanitarian organisations and civil society groups precisely to evade these sanctions”, she said.
“These terrorist organisations use the umbrella of the humanitarian assistance space to raise funds and recruit fighters,” she said.
The Council has recognised this phenomenon and imposed sanctions on individuals connected with LeT-associated front organisations like Al-Akhtar Trust International or organisations like JeM associated Al Rashid Trust, which have been found to be front organisations masquerading as humanitarian groups.
Kamboj said that India’s demand to give a role for the monitoring team for the sanctions imposed by Council Resolution 1267 on Al Qaeda and the Islamic State and their affiliates including JeM and LeT, to oversee the working of the exemptions was not included in the resolution.
“India had sought in the text of the resolution a proactive role for the 1267 Monitoring Team, coupled with robust reporting standards and mechanisms,” she said. “We regret that these specific concerns were not fully addressed in the final text adopted today.”
Introducing the resolution, US Permanent Representative Linda Thomas-Greenfield said: “We must all do everything in our power to help humanitarian partners reach the world’s most vulnerable regardless of where they live, who they live with and who controls their territory.”
She said that the sanctions created problems in the field for providing assistance and that humanitarian organisations had asked for the exemptions.
China’s Deputy Permanent Representative Geng Shuang, backing the exemptions, said that Beijing had called for such measures and the US and Ireland, the co-sponsor of the resolution, were responding to it.
At the same time, he criticised the sanctions imposed unilaterally by countries like the US and India.
“Those sanctions often create great chaos and disaster and exacerbate humanitarian crises,” he asserted.
Russia’s Permanent Representative Anna Evstigneeva also criticised sanctions on terrorist groups placed by countries.
Only the Council should impose sanctions and it should decide on the humanitarian aspects free of the political attitudes of countries.
In India, Congress Party Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor welcomed India’s abstention calling it “well done”.
He tweeted: “While understanding the humanitarian concerns behind the resolution, I agree fully with India’s reservations that prompted its abstention. We don’t have to look far across the border for evidence to substantiate @ruchirakamboj’s words”.
(Arul Louis can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed at @arulouis)