Sri Lanka, Uganda Says Urgent,
Dutch Dodge EU Tariffs and Rights, Ban Waits
Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, May 12
-- As the bombs fall in northern Sri Lanka, the
assumption is that the Western members of are doing what they can to
civilians, while developing countries don't care. While it may be, as
that neither care enough, on Tuesday night the Permanent Representative
Security Council member Uganda told Inner City Press of Sri Lanka that
country "there would be no problem to discuss it in the Council...
is urgency to do something about it."
This is counter to the common wisdom at the UN, that
members opposing addressing Sri Lanka include not only China, Russia,
and Libya, but also Burkina Faso and Uganda, and Turkey and Japan (the
two, it is predicted, would abstain). Now, Uganda has said it would
problem having Sri Lanka on the Security Council's agenda. So why are
countries which supposedly care waiting?
At a panel discussion Tuesday on the European Union
and Human Rights,
Inner City Press asked the Netherlands' deputy Permanent Representative
Klerk what the EU is going about following up on its favorable tariff
to Sri Lankan textiles under the GSP Plus program, on which the EU
considers human rights. DPR de Klerk said he didn't think that human
were "applicable to this sort of situation." If the killing of
thousands of civilians, hundreds in the last weekend alone, does not
the EU's notions of human rights, perhaps these notions are bankrupt.
In fact, the EU session was sponsored by and held in
a facility of Banco
Santander, which beyond financial problems was identified as having
money, with Riggs Bank, for Chilean human rights violator Agusto
Dutch DPR de Klerk, human rights "not
applicable" to Sri Lanka, GSP+ not shown
And while the Ugandan Ambassador speaks of
the "urgency" of the situation in Sri Lanka, well placed sources tell
Inner City Press that while Ban Ki-moon still says he is considering
Sri Lanka, it would be in days or weeks, when the final offensive is
Inner City Press has told senior Ban advisers, that would be too late.
wants to turn over a new leaf or be perceived differently, now is the
But at Tuesday's UN noon briefing, Inner City Press
Associate Spokesperson Farhan Haq:
Press: In Sri Lanka there was this
of how the UN-funded camps involve starvation deaths and disappearance
women. The journalist who filmed that, I
asked about it and I think Michèle said that it hadn’t been seen
by the UN,
that the UN had no response to that exposé.
The journalist that filmed it has since been
expelled by the Government. Does the UN
have any, in terms of either
press freedom or a desire to know what’s done with its money in Sri
any comment either on the footage or on the expulsion of the journalist
Spokesperson Haq: We do not actually
have comment on the footage. We’d need
to be able to see that first-hand.
Obviously we support the freedom of the press
throughout the world, but
we don’t have anything specific to say about this particular incident.
question on the Secretary-General had mentioned last week that if he
could make a difference in Sri Lanka in terms of bringing an end to the
suffering going on there, has he rearranged his thoughts at all after
weekend’s events and the ongoing crisis there?
Spokesperson: I think his thoughts are
expressed in the statement that we issued yesterday, which we read out
the top of today’s briefing, and that position stands as his position. We don’t have anything further to say about
any travel plans. So our position
remains that he believes, that if he believes that it can make a
certainly will go.
Question: But just a quick follow-up, then.
In terms of where -- is this something that
he is considering, or is it just something that is out there, that
are talking about, but it’s really not an option that is being
Spokesperson: It’s something that he is
considering, but there is no final decision to make on that.
He better hurry up...
May 7, Inner City Press
asked Associate UUN Spokesperson Farhan Haq:
City Press: I wanted to ask about this invitation that’s been made
to the Secretary-General to visit Sri Lanka. First I wanted to ask
if on Monday when he met with the Ambassador of Japan, whether he was
briefed on a visit by Mr. [Yasushi] Akashi to Sri Lanka and was urged
by Japan that he should take this visit. And I also wanted to know
whether he would be in New York 11 May for the Middle East debate,
and 15 May to meet with the Chinese diplomats, that in fact this is
one reason that he is considering not going, as I have been told by
senior Secretariat staff.
Spokesperson Haq: Well, first of all, we don’t announce the trips
of the Secretary-General until they are close to occurring. And in
that regard, I don’t have anything to announce about a trip to Sri
Lanka at this stage. At the same time, as Michèle told you
yesterday, and is still true for today, if the Secretary-General
believes that visiting Sri Lanka can have an impact in terms of
saving lives there, he will certainly try to go. So he is
considering that. But part of what he is studying is what the impact
of a potential trip would be.
City Press: But if he had that belief, that would be without regard
to attending the 11 May Middle East thing or the 15 May meeting with
the Chinese diplomats? I am told that’s a major factor in his
Spokesperson: Scheduling is a separate issue. What we’re talking
about is the decision of whether or not to go. And certainly if he
can make a difference and can save civilian lives, which is what his
priority has been on this case, then he will go. At present, we
don’t have anything to announce at all in this regard, though.
Question: Just one last
one on that. I wanted to know, can you at least
confirm that he met with Ambassador Takasu on Monday in his office
inside the Security Council? Can you give a read-out of that meeting
and say why it wasn’t on his public schedule?
Spokesperson: I can confirm that he met with the Permanent
Representative of Japan. He did that, yes. It was in his office in
the Security Council. We don’t provide readouts of meetings with
Question: And why wasn’t
it on the schedule?
Spokesperson: It came up all of a sudden when he had a bit of free
time in between other appointments on a fairly hectic day.
Ban Ki-moon is working on his issues as a trip to Manama, Bahrain,
after a news-less trip to Malta, the killing of civilians accelerates
in Sri Lanka. On Friday
May 8, Inner City Press asked Deputy
City Press: On the invitation by the Government of Sri Lanka to the
Secretary-General to visit, is there any progress in thinking? In
the alternative, is the Secretary-General, is he considering invoking
Article 99 or responsibility to protect or making some other move of
some type on the situation in Sri Lanka?
Spokesperson: I have nothing beyond what we’ve been saying from
this podium this week on Sri Lanka, including what the
Secretary-General himself has said earlier this week.
What Ban said
did not involve calling for a cease-fire, did not respond to the
invitation to visit Sri Lanka, or the accelerating rate of civilians
death over the weekend, during which no statement issued about Sri
Lanka. Watch this site.
4 in the UK with allegations of rape and
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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