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At UN, Mortimer on R2P In Libya, Gaddafi's Lessons Taken by Sri Lanka?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 17 -- When former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's communications chief Edward Mortimer spoke at the UN on November 17, Inner City Press asked him about Darfur, which is mentioned in the “Responsibility to Protect” section of the recently released book of Annan speeches edited by Mortimer, and about Sri Lanka.

  Mortimer selected a speech by Annan on April 7, 2004 where Annan said “at the invitation of the Sudanese government, I propose to send a high level team to Darfur to gain a fuller understanding of the extent and nature of this crisis.”

  Now in November 2014, more than 10 year later, Annan's successor Ban Ki-moon has belatedly responded to the UNAMID mission's November 9 press release denying rapes by Sudanese forces, saying “village community leaders reiterated to UNAMID that they coexist peacefully with local military authorities in the area. None of those interviewed confirmed that any incident of rape took place in Thabit” -- seeking to send in another team.

  Inner City Press asked Mortimer what he thought of the UN's record on Darfur in the last ten years -- and of the UN's record in Sri Lanka, on and after the war crimes in 2009.

  Mortimer is the chair of the UK-based Sri Lanka Campaign. One can only imagine his views of Annan's successor Ban Ki-moon going on a Rajapaksa “victory tour” on northern Sri Lanka in May 2009, but would still like to hear it. But not at the UN, apparently.

  Mortimer's answer focused on Responsibility to Protect generally, with an emphasis on how it was used in or on Libya in 2011. He said that called into question what would have happened had NATO not started bombing, and provided lessons for other dictators: don't use language like Gaddafi did about Benghazi, and develop friends in the international community - or, on the Security Council.

  This last might well be applied to the Rajapaksa government. But for the record, Mortimer didn't say it here.

  In a session moderated by Maher Nasser, acting head of the Department of Public Information, Mortimer was also asked about humor in speeches, and recounted Annan mishandling the Arnold Schwartznegger line "I'll be baahhk" to “I will be back.”

  He mentioned the group Independent Diplomat, which is pursuing issues of war crimes in Sri Lanka -- as, apparently, is also British Ian Martin, “under the radar” -- and the publishing industry's lack of interest in the UN. That may be true at least for now. But we recommend the book Mortimer has edited, “Kofi Annan, We the People's: A UN for the 21st Century” put out by Paradigm Publishers, and any memoir he may publish. Watch this site.


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