Sri Lanka, As UK Disagrees With NAM Letter, IMF, Pascoe and Panel After
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, March 19 -- Ten days after Sri Lanka got a Non Aligned
Movement letter submitted to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon telling
him he has no jurisdiction to seek advise on accountability for war
crimes in Sri Lanka, the UK Permanent Representative to the UN Mark
Lyall Grant told the Press his country disagrees with NAM's argument.
Security Council chamber, Inner City Press asked Ambassador Lyall
Grant about NAM's letter, and war crimes in Sri Lanka. The Secretary
General, Ambassador Lyall Grant said, "does have a mandate through the
UN charter to uphold human rights and humanitarian international law,
and therefore he is entirely within his rights to set up a group of
experts who will advise him on taking forward his concerns about some
of the allegations that have been made in the recent months in Sri
As such, he
said, the UK "would disagree with the Non-Aligned Movement, who are
arguing that he is acting beyond his mandate." Video here,
from Minute 2:49.
the UK at
the UN has had little at least publicly to say about Sri Lanka of
late, Inner City Press asked Ambassador Lyall Grant what the UK
thinks should happen. He replied that the UK "want[s] to see an end to
impunity, that we want to see allegations of war crimes, human rights
violations, human rights abuses, thoroughly investigated."
Also on the NAM letter, Inner City Press on March 19 asked
the spokesman for this year's President of the UN General Assembly,
Libya's Ali Treki, if he supports or opposes NAM's arguments. You have
to ask the Secretary General, was the reply, or NAM or Sri Lanka. But
the Sri Lankan mission declined to even give a copy of the NAM letter
to the press.
UK's Lyall Grant and PGA Ali Treki, NAM
letter on Sri Lanka not shown
City Press asked a senior UN official about his involvement in the
UN's decision not to send any personnel to Sri Lanka before the
Presidential election, to try to safeguard minimal fairness.
spokespeople said the UN could not act without a General Assembly
vote or mandate, this official confided that the UN had offered the
Sri Lankan electoral official to send a team of five to ten experts.
But this offer was turned down.
front, Inner City Press asked the International Monetary Fund on
March 18 about the status of the third tranche of the IMF's credit
facility to Sri Lanka. IMF spokesperson Yoshiko Kamata told Inner
City Press in reply that IMF "staff will visit Colombo after the
parliamentary elections and the formation of the new cabinet, to
discuss with the government its plan for a 2010 budget."
visit of the UN's political envoy Lynn Pascoe appears to have been
pushed back to after the election. Some now say that, following the
NAM letter to which Ban has yet to formally response, he is spending
more time on "terms of reference" and membership of the
announced Sri Lanka panel than he did on his panel on the killing of
150 civilians in Guinea -- specifically so the timing extends until
after the elections. What was that again, about "no delay"?
Watch this site.
19, '10 stakeout, transcribed by Group of Friends on ICP
City Press: The SG said he would name a panel to advise him on
Sri Lanka human rights and the NAM complained and said he doesn't
have the right to intervene on human rights issues not on the
Council's agenda. What does the UK think? Is he within his rights?
Grant: Well, we believe that the Secretary-General does have a
mandate through the UN charter to uphold human rights and
humanitarian international law, and therefore he is entirely within
his rights to set up a group of experts who will advise him on taking
forward his concerns about some of the allegations that have been
made in the recent months in Sri Lanka. So we would disagree with the
Non-Aligned Movement, who are arguing that he is acting beyond his
City Press: Does the UK have
concerns about conduct on both sides?
Grant: Well, we have made it very clear that we always want to see
an end to impunity, that we want to see allegations of war crimes,
human rights violations, human rights abuses, thoroughly
* * *
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.
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.
* * *
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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
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