UN, Sri Lanka Gets $3M from Ban, Fixes Panel and Pushes Its Troops,
Protests and New School DPR
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, April 19 -- As the UN's Ban Ki-moon talks about but has yet
to establish a group of experts to advise him on war crimes in Sri
Lanka, he quietly decided earlier this year to give $3 million in
funds to government approved projects.
April 13, Inner
City asked German Ambassador Peter Wittig, Chairman of the UN
Commission, about the UN's $3 million grant, and whether the war
crimes, reconciliation and other issues mentioned by Secretary
General were taken into account.
referred the question to a Peacebuilding Support Office staff James
Otobo, who confirmed that it was the Secretary General, ultimately,
who declared Sri Lanka eligible for the funds and disbursed them. He
said "we were torn" because there are "still some of
the issues you talked about." But were or are there any
safeguards are there as the UN uses, and Sri Lanka now offers more,
soldiers for UN peacekeeping missions, including many who served in
the final phase of the war in northern Sri Lanka? Inner City Press
asked on April 5
City Press: the Government of Sri Lanka has said that it’s gonna up
its contribution to UN peacekeeping from the current 950 to 5,000
troops. Since the Secretary-General has said there are these open
questions about accountability for the conflict there, one, has DPKO
agreed to this five-fold increase? And two, what safeguards are in
place to make sure that the troops that may have engaged in crimes of
war don’t become peacekeepers?
Spokesperson: This is a report that I am hearing about for the first
time. DPKO, I am sure, is listening, and I am sure they will get
back to us with an answer.
surprisingly, they did:
Answer to your question on Sri Lanka offer to increase its
contribution to UN peacekeeping
From: DPKO @un.org
Matthew, Kindly find hereby the answer to your question on Sri
Lanka's offer to increase five-fold its contribution to UN
peacekeeping: Does DPKO accept this offer?
there safeguards in place, considering concerns about human rights in
Lanka has been a regular contributor to peacekeeping operations. It
has a battalion in United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti
(MINUSTAH), since 2004. Recently, Sri Lanka has also deployed an
aero-medical evacuation team to the United Nations mission in the
Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) and is yet to send a
second aero-medical evacuation team to the same mission. Sri Lanka
has shown interest in contributing additional forces to various
missions like United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and
any future missions. But offers have not yet been accepted. In this
case, like in various other cases, the danger of soldiers accused of
human rights violations being part of contingents put at the
disposal of the UN peacekeeping does exists. The UN has no means of
vetting individual contingent members. The UN rely on the national
government authorities to ensure that such elements are not deployed.
This aspect will furthermore be highlighted to the national
authorities prior the future deployment of their contingents to the
various UN peacekeeping missions".
the UN doles
out $3 million to Sri Lanka, and prepares to give more for unvetted
peacekeeepers, Inner City Press hears that the country's Attorney
General has come to meet with Team Ban, to put in the fix on the
advisory committee. Still, nothing has been announced.
Sri Lanka's Perm Rep Kohona on Israel, DRPS and fish
balls not shown
on April 16
students from schools in more than three states protested in front of
the Sri Lankan Mission, on Third Avenue by the UN, demanding justice
for J.S. Tissainayagam. No one deigned to come down from the Mission
office to address the students.
on April 19,
Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN Palitha Kohona invited
Inner City Press and others to his 38th floor residence, to meet his
new deputy Bandula Jayasekara. Present were DPRs from South Korea and
Norway -- Mona Juul, perhaps out of penance -- and a contingent from
came three weeks ago from Toronto, and already spoke out in favor of
Israel leaving its Occupied Territories. Some saw the irony, but
Bandula Jayasekara told Inner City Press he is a "new school"
diplomat, nothing off the record, nothing that can't be asked about.
How about the popular musician MIA? "She's not popular,"
he answered, adding "we all have our jobs and should all have
fun." The dead don't find it so funny. What was that again, that
Ban Ki-moon said about accountability? Watch this site.
Footnote: on the Non-Aligned Movement's
Kohona-procured letter protesting the group of experts to Ban on war
crimes in Sri Lanka, Inner City Press asked Egypt's Ambassador last
week if, with his second letter essentially withdrawing the first, the
issue was over. He nodded and headed up the stairs away from the
Security Council. But the first NAM letter was helpful to Sri Lanka -
and perhaps to Ban Ki-moon, to explain or defend his delay and
inaction. We'll see.
* * *
UN's Sri Lanka Panel, Nambiar Meets with Kohona, "Two Foxes,"
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, March 24 -- The UN's
panel on accountability for war crimes
in Sri Lanka is being put together by Secretary General Ban
chief of staff Vijay Nambiar, with his already controversial role in
the final stage of the "bloodbath on the beach" and the
Rajapaksa government's UN representative Palitha Kohona, Mr. Ban told
the Press on Wednesday.
full week after Mr. Ban
said there would be "no delay" in putting together
the panel, Inner City Press asked him what had in fact been done.
from Minute 7:54. Mr. Ban replied that he is "in
the process of identifying persons" for the panel of experts.
cabinet has been meeting with Sri Lanka's Ambassador here," Mr.
Ban said. Video here, from Minute 8:29, UN transcript
Vijay Nambiar's role in Sri Lanka became more and more controversial
as 2009 progressed, including him telling surrendering LTTE leaders
that if they came out with a white flag they would be fine. They
were, in fact, shot and killed -- at the order of the Rajapaksas,
according to now imprisoned general Sarath Fonseka.
Rapporteur on Summary Execution Philip Alston has submitted questions
to the Sri Lankan government, Nambiar himself is at least a witness.
Why is he putting together the panel on accountability?
UN's Ban and NAMbiar, Kohona and accountability not
most recently, is reported to have given food baskets and $100
dollars to pro-Rajapaksa protesters who denounced Ban Ki-moon in
front of the UN twelve days ago.
instrumental in the Non Aligned Movement's letter to Ban contesting
his jurisdiction to appoint the panel. India's representative at the
NAM meeting at issue has told Inner City Press that at the end of the
meeting, essentially as people were leaving, Kohona asked for a NAM
letter to Ban. In the moment, no one objected, and the letter was
are the two
people putting together the panel to advise Ban Ki-moon on
accountability for war crimes in Sri Lanka. It is, one close observer
told Inner City Press, like "two foxes studying the hen house."
Watch this site.
Inner City Press also asked China's new UN Ambassador Li Baodong for
his views on Ban's panel and the NAM letter. Video here,
While Li Baodong answered Inner City Press' question on
Myanmar, saying that its elections are a "matter of sovereign
states that should be respected," he pointedly declined to
answer Inner City Press' question on Sri Lanka, and walked away from
the microphone. Video here,
from Minute 4:34.
24 UN transcript:
City Press: a week ago you'd said on the Sri Lanka panel or board on
accountability that there'd be no delay. So a week's gone by, I want
to know if anything's been done in that regard in that week?
Ban: I'm in the process of identifying persons who can work in the
panel of experts. My chef de cabinet has been meeting with the Sri
Lankan ambassador here and they are now in the process of making a
move on this, and I expect that Mr. Lynn Pascoe will be able to visit
Sri Lanka in the near future to discuss all the matters.