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Ban Ki-moon Tells Press Alleged War Criminal as UN Adviser Was "Decided by States"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 8, updated Feb 10 -- Twelve days after Inner City Press began reporting on Sri Lankan alleged war criminal Shavendra Silva joining the "Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations" of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, on Wednesday evening the question was finally put to Ban Ki-moon himself. He said, "Sri Lankan mission? It was the member states that decided."

  Inner City Press had tried to ask the question during Ban's stakeout session outside the Security Council but was not permitted to. An hour later, Ban again passed by the Council accompanied by his Deputy Spokesman.

  Inner City Press asked, "What about Shavendra Silva?

Even as Ban slowed down, his deputy spokesman tried to avoid any answer. But Ban asked in return, "Sri Lankan mission?" Inner City Press said yes. Ban delivered the excuse that his primary spokesman Martin Nesirky has repeatedly used: "It was the member states that decided."

It is not that simple, and many have questioned whether for the credibility of the UN the Secretary General should adopt a position of powerlessness about all such decisions. In this case, there was no election; Inner City Press has learned that Sri Lanka got Saudi Arabia and Nepal to stand down.

This week, a major Asia Group Permanent Representative told Inner City Press he'd had no idea what Sri Lanka was putting Silva in the post.

 For the record, acts of Shavendra Silva's battalion in 2009 are described in the UN's own Panel of Experts report on Sri Lanka -- for example in paragraphs 62, 90-92 and 171, shelling hospitals and killing those seeking to surrender -- and lawsuits have been filed against Silva for war crimes. In September 2011, Inner City Press asked Silva about them, click here for that story.

Earlier on Wednesday, Inner City Press asked Herve Ladsous, the head of Peacekeeping that Ban selected as the fourth Frenchman in a row in the job, if Silva having the post impacted DPKO's credibility.

Ladsous said, "this was a decision by the Asian group,. a decision to appoint this person which became known to all, including to us, the very day the group met for the first time. We had nothing to do with the selection of the individual."

Inner City Press has reported that Ladsous' fellow Under Secretary General Susana Malcorra, now slated to become Ban's deputy, in fact met with member states to give them criteria for people to serve on the Senior Advisory Group, including that they be Permanent Representatives and not Deputies, like Silva. She apparently neglected to say then, or since, that alleged war criminals should not be made advisers to UN Peacekeeping.

When Pressed about Silva and the UN's credibility, Ladsous said "the matter is being considered further."

According to Ban's pat and prepared answer later Wednesday -- it was the member states that decided -- it is unclear if the matter is being further considered by Ban.


Ban shaking heads with Silva, (c) MRLee: it was a slippery and fast slope

What Inner City Press has been told by a number of member states is that Sri Lanka is being talked to, but is demanding in return for possibly switching Deputy Silva for Permanent Representative Palitha Kohona, also involved along with Ban's chief of staff Vijay Nambiar in the so called white flag killings of surrendering prisoners, that Sri Lanka not be pursued at the Human Right Council in March or afterward. (The fig leaf that the switch would only be for seniority, though, is undercut by Japan naming its Number Three diplomat, Jun Yamazaki, to the Senior Advisory Group.)

   So Sri Lanka would be allowed to benefit, even in this scenario, from putting an alleged war criminal as a Senior Adviser to Ban Ki-moon on Peacekeeping. Some say, the person who should speak out is Ban Ki-moon himself. But all he's said, after 12 days, is "It was the member states that decided." Quiet diplomacy, indeed. Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 BloggingHead.tv about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 BloggingHeads.tv re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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