Sri Lanka, UN Puts Spin on "No Delay," Jabs at NAM, Will
Fonseka Meet Pascoe?
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, March 18 -- Amid charges by the UN that the Non Aligned
Movement's letter defending Sri Lanka's Rajapaksa government was not
agreed to by all NAM member, notably India, the UN is insisting
there is no contradiction between its statements about a panel to
advise Ban Ki-moon about approaches to war crimes in Sri Lanka.
March 18, Inner
City Press asked Ban's Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq about his quote
that the panel would not be established very soon and Ban's
statements that there would be "no delay."
seems contradictory," Inner City Press began. "By many you
mean you?" demanded Farhan Haq. Video here,
from Minute 7:55.
after the briefing, a number of UN correspondents who neither ask nor
write about Sri Lanka approached Inner City Press to say they too
found it confusing, no delay but not very soon.
square the comments by saying no delay in considering the terms of
reference. Presumably Ban considered this before informing Mahinda
Rajapaksa he was going to name the panel. Again, timing in this
regard should be compared to Guinea, where the September 2009 killing
of 150 civilians has already triggered a UN panel, terms of reference
and investigation long completed. No delay?
advisors have told Inner City Press that they are mad at the NAM
letter, claiming that India for example did not agree to the letter.
Inner City Press is inquiring. For now, Inner City Press has obtained
the NAM letter -- the Sri Lankan Mission to the UN declined to provide
it to the press -- and puts it online here.
Ban and Basil Rajapaksa depicted with gun, delay and
NAM not shown
as the "no
delay" panel may in fact be intentionally delayed past Sri
Lanka's April election, so too many the trip of Ban's envoy Lynn
Pascoe. The question is, will Pascoe as least ask for, and hold out
to receive, permission to meet with Sarath Fonseka, the imprisoned
opposition candidate and former general? One cynic pointed to the UN
asking to meet in Myanmar with Aung San Suu Kyi.
advisor said that the Sri Lanka "case calls out of
investigation" even more than Guinea, in that the "general
who shot the gun at people with white flags" is saying he was
ordered to. But what about the UN official, Ban's chief of staff, who
told them to come out with white flags, that it would be ok? Watch
* * *
UN, Ban Says "No Delay" in Naming Sri Lanka Panel,
Report Only to Him
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, March 16 -- Stressing that his panel on Sri Lankan war
crimes will only report to him, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on
Tuesday told the Press that the Non Aligned Movement "misunderstood"
his announcement about the panel.
asked Mr. Ban, in a press conference before his travel to Moscow for
a meeting of the Middle East Quartet, to respond to criticism that he
has moved much more slowly on presumptive war crimes in Sri Lanka in
early 2009 than on the killing of 150 civilians in Guinea in
will be "no
delay" in naming the panel, Mr. Ban replied. The previous day,
his spokesman Martin Nesirky told Inner City Press the panel would
not be established very soon. So which is it -- "no delay"
or "not very soon"?
UN's Ban at NAM Summit, with Egypt's
president, Sri Lanka panel not yet shown
Ban said he
will be responding directly to the NAM, which wrote that "there
is nothing in the U.N. charter that authorizes intervention in
matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any
state, without prejudice of course to the application of enforcement
measures under chapter VII."
advisors have expressed outrage at the NAM letter. The request for
the letter by the Rajapaksa government been ascribed to "internal
politics" in Sri Lanka. But it would set a precedent.
Inner City Press
asked Mr. Ban, "the argument would apply to other countries,
from Myanmar to Guinea to North Korea." He did not respond to
this aspect, nor to the comparison in speed to his actions on Guinea.
Did the NAM letter slow his hand? Mr. Ban has now said there will be
"no delay." We'll see.
later in his March 16 press conference, unprompted, Ban said that
while "standard diplomatic practice" is to agree on how to
describe a phone conversation, not only Israel but also Sri Lanka
have recently violated that practice or protocol. For Israel, the
reference was to statements that Ban was told to be "more
For Sri Lanka, it appears to refer to President
Mahinda Rajapaksa's statements about how he stood up to, or dressed
down, Ban during their call about the panel. But why then say, as
Ban's spokespeople have, that the panel's appointment will be "not
very soon"? What will "no delay" mean?
transcript below, video here
City Press: Mr. Secretary-General, you've received a letter from the
Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) which argues that you and your office as
Secretary-General really don't have any jurisdiction over human
rights or alleged war crimes. The letter is about Sri Lanka, but the
logic would apply to Myanmar, Guinea, North Korea. I wonder what's
your response to their argument of limiting the scope of your
jurisdiction, and how do you explain what some see as the delay in
naming a panel compared to, say, what you did in Guinea, where you
named one and it's already reported out? Some say that the NAM letter
has caused you to delay naming a panel to advise you on Sri Lanka.
Can you respond to that?
Ban Ki-moon: First of all, about the letter addressed to me by the
Non-Aligned Movement. It is clear from the NAM letter that there is a
misunderstanding on the nature and purpose of the panel of experts
that I intend to establish. I will take this up directly with the
Non-Aligned Movement. On this report which you have seen quoting the
Sri Lankan Government, that my establishment of this commission of
experts would be tantamount to interfering in the internal matters of
Sri Lanka, again this is in accordance with the joint statement
issued as a result of my visit and as a result of my meeting with
President [Mahinda] Rajapaksa, in May last year. It contained, this
joint statement contained, a commitment related to ensuring an
accountability process for addressing valuations of international
humanitarian and human rights laws. The panel I am establishing will
advise me on the standards, benchmarks, and parameters, based on
international experience, that must guide any accountability process
such as the one mentioned in the joint statement. Now this panel will
report to me directly and not to any other body. It is well within my
power, I believe. I am convinced that it is well within my power as
Secretary-General of the United Nations to ask such a body to furnish
me with their advice of this nature. This does not in any way
infringe on the sovereignty of Sri Lanka. I'd like to make it clear
that there will be no delay in the establishment of the panel.
* * *
Sri Lanka, UN Now Says Panel "Not Very Soon," Response to
NAM, and by UK
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, March 15 -- Even after the UN says
it will belatedly take
some action about war crimes in Sri Lanka, , it steps back from its
announcement, using as justification a letter whose logic even UN
senior advisers find specious.
week after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
said he "made
clear to President Rajapaksa that I intend to move forward on a
of Experts which will advise me on setting the broad parameters and
standards on the way ahead on establishing accountability concerning
Sri Lanka," now there is no timetable for establishing the
asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky on March 15 about the timing,
and a pro-Rajapaksa letter submitted to Ban by Egypt's Ambassador on
behalf of the Non Aligned Movement. Nesirky, reading from notes,
said that the panel is "unlikely to be established very soon."
He did not respond about the NAM letter. Video here,
City Press asked a senior Ban adviser, who immediately questioned the
logic of the NAM letter. "They will be getting a reply,"
the adviser promised. While he tried to explain the now announced
delay is setting up the panel of experts, one can compare this to the
speed with which Ban named a panel on the killing of 150 civilians in
Guinea on September 28, 2009.
panel was named, investigated and has already reported. By contrast,
on many more killing in Sri Lanka in early 2009, the UN says that its
late announced panel is "unlikely to be established very soon."
UN's Ban and UK's Miliband, NAM letter and
Guinea double standard not shown
on Sri Lanka and war crimes, while UK Foreign Secretary David
Miliband did not, as UK embassies in the U.S. had appeared to promise,
respond to Inner City Press' timely submitted question about the
investigation of and accountability for war crimes -- "If Sri
Lanka refuses to investigate war crimes does UK think the UN should
name a panel of inquiry as in Guinea?" -- the following was
From: Brian.McGuigan, British
To: Inner City Press
Date: Fri, Mar
We're sorry that the Foreign Secretary was not able to answer your
question on Twitter. We'd still like to give you a response from the
British Government, however.
was a war without witness. The UK supports any credible process to
address possible violations of international humanitarian law by both
sides to the conflict. Such a process could advance the prospects of
national reconciliation. Whatever the outcome of the UN process, the
GoSL retains primary responsibility to investigate possible war
crimes committed on its territory and we urge it to do so.
We will have more on this.
Sri Lanka, UN's Ban Restates Concern on Lack of Progress, Unaware
of Job Request
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, March 8 -- After a weekend during which Sri Lanka's
president and ruling party attacked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
for saying he will
name a panel to advise himself about possible war
crimes in Sri Lanka, Inner City Press asked Mr. Ban for his side of
Ban said " I am concerned with the lack of progress
of the joint statement which both I and President Rajapaksa had
agreed during my visit last year." Ban declined to provide any
further description of the panel or when he will name its members.
and below; video here.
also asked about the acknowledgement over the weekend by Sri Lanka's
foreign minister that he has sought a UN job for his son.
same sources who first told Inner City Press about the minister's
letter say it was addressed to Ban's chief of staff Vijay Nambiar,
Ban replied that he is unaware of the request. He said that the UN
has transparent recruitment procedures, an assertion that many
dispute, including as to the children and sons in law of the top UN
UN's Ban depicted shaking with presidential
brother Basil Rajapaksa, under the gun
is the UN's
transcript of the Q & A:
City Press: Mr. Secretary-General, late last week you spoke with the
President of Sri Lanka, and said that you are going to name a panel,
to advise yourself, on accountability. Over the weekend, the
President said that you had no right to do it and had a very
different read-out of the call than we received, at least the way I
hear it. Can you explain what the purpose of the Panel is and when
you think you’re going to name it? And also the Foreign Minister
of Sri Lanka, also over the weekend, confirmed that he sought a job
for his son with the UN. I wonder if you think that is appropriate,
and is such a job going to be given?
As you said, I had a frank and honest exchange of views with
President [Mahinda] Rajapaksa, Thursday night, last week, over issues
that were of concern to both of us. This included moving forward on
political reconciliation, further movement on the condition of
internally displaced persons, and the establishment of an
accountability process. I am concerned with the lack of progress of
the joint statement which both I and President Rajapaksa had agreed
during my visit last year. I raised this issue and discussed [it]. I
made clear to President Rajapaksa that I intend to move forward on
a Group of Experts which will advise me on setting the broad
parameters and standards on the way ahead on establishing
accountability concerning Sri Lanka. For that purpose, we have
agreed that I dispatch [Under Secretary General of Political Affairs]
Lynn Pascoe in the very near future.
Do you think that it’s appropriate for the Foreign Minister of a
country with which you are dealing with on possible war crimes to be
seeking a job for his son with the UN?
First of all, I am not aware of that particular case of job
application of the Foreign Minister’s son. As a matter of fact,
process will have to be dealt with in a most transparent and
objective manner by the selection committee members. That is what the
United Nations has been [using] as a principle.
for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters
footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
12 debate on Sri Lanka http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/17772?in=11:33&out=32:56
Click here for Inner City Press' Jan.
16, 2009 debate about Gaza
Click here for Inner City Press'
review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate
Click here for Inner
City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger
Click here from Inner City Press'
December 12 debate on UN double standards
Click here for Inner
City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics
and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
* * *
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017
earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.
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