In UN Council, Japan Works on Sri
Lanka Issue, "Ongoing Engagement" of UN, Says Official Coomaraswamy
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, February 9, updated
Whether and how Sri Lanka
will be presented in the UN Security Council is an
issue currently being "mediated" by this month's Council president,
Ambassador Yukio Takasu of Japan, he confirmed on the record to Inner
Press on Monday. Video here
from Minute from Minute 1:46.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's closed-door briefing to the Council on
Monday afternoon, Sri Lanka came up, UK Ambassador John Sawers
confirmed after the meeting (see below).
Meanwhile, senior UN official Radhika Coomaraswamy told Inner
City Press that while Sri Lanka is "a new place for them" at the UN,
"there is now an ongoing engagement." Video here,
from Minute 48:56.
Last week, Inner
City Press exclusively reported that Security Council
member Mexico had on February 3 asked that the Council get a briefing
Lanka, and that Russia had blocked it, saying that Sri Lanka is not on
Council's agenda. Click here for
that February 5 story, which was picked up in
Lanka's Sunday Times which in turn reported that
senior Foreign Ministry official in Colombo said that what Mexico had
was at an informal meeting... However, H.M.G.S. Palihakkara, Sri
Permanent representative to the UN in New York, would meet the Mexican
representative and brief him 'adequately' on the situation in Sri
said. 'Ambassador Palihakkara will handle the situation. We are
issue will not come up at the Security Council,' the official said. The
UN-based Inner City Press reported that this month's Council president,
Takasu, had said he would engage the two sides -- Mexico and Russia --
bilateral consultations on the issue."
Because of the pressure being brought to bear on
Mexico and others,
Inner City Press on Monday sought further confirmation that the issue
"live" in the Council. Even the Permanent Representative of a north
African country not on the Council told Inner City Press he was aware
discussions in the Council. Another Council member said that beyond
others of the Permanent Five members -- the UK, France, US and China --
against having a briefing.
On camera, Inner City Press asked Ambassador Takasu
to confirm Mexico's
request and where things stand. "I cannot confirm who said what,"
Takasu replied, "but this issue has been the matter of consultations I
have accepted to take. And I am talking to the people among themselves,
decision is made yet." Video here
from Minute from Minute 1:46.
Amb. Takasu with the President of the UN
General Assembly, outcome on Sri Lanka not shown
Inner City Press asked, is the upsurge in fighting
in Sri Lanka an
appropriate issue for consideration by the Council, given the effect on
civilians? Ambassador Takasu said "among Council members there are
different views. There is the strong view that is interested in hearing
the humanitarian situation in that country. But
at the same time some other members are
saying that it is purely an internal matter, that the Council has no
That is why they are putting myself in consultations to come up with a
understanding." Video here,
from Minute 2:19.
There are other Council members who are supportive
of Mexico's request.
But it is the position of the Permanent Five that is dispositive in the
Council. Last week, when Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador John
who did not participate in Monday's Council session, instead squiring
Malloch Brown around to meetings -- why he was not proposing to discuss
on civilians of the government operations against the Tamil Tigers in
in the Council, while proposing a new Presidential Statement on Sudan's
while fighting the Justice and Equality Movement, Sawers replied:
the situation in Sri Lanka is entirely different. We do have concerns
humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka. We have urged the government of
to have everything in count to bring an end to the hostilities so that
humanitarian relief can be extended to the civilians.... The Tamil
Tigers are a
proscribed organization and the government of Sri Lanka has long been
by the activities of the Tamil Tigers. We want these to be brought to
So it appears to some that since the UK and many
others want the Tamil Tigers
"brought to an end," they are looking the other way on a level of
civilian casualties not seen in many of the other situations which they
about at length in the Security Council.
Update: now it's said that the UK
Mission to the UN's position is that if a formal request were made for
a Council briefing on Sri Lanka, the UK would not oppose it, even,
would be supportive. But they will not make the request: over-worked,
apparently, or delegating to Mexico on the issue.
following Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's closed-door
briefing to the Council on Monday afternoon, Inner City Press asked UK
Ambassador Sawers, "Did Sri Lanka come up?" Sawers answered, "Yes," and
then left. Watch this site.
In the Sri Lankan press, following Inner City Press'
exclusive report on
Mexico's request and Russia's negative response, there has been
why Mexico and Russia are interested. Click here for
some discussion. Of the
latter, it must be noted that Russia often opposes new items being
before the Council, on the theory that some of their "internal"
conflicts could then make an appearance.
The UN and the Security Council should strive to be
regards consideration of humanitarian suffering, and not only focus
Permanent Five members want to. To request a briefing on Sri Lanka is
support the Tamil Tigers. Many of those countries which expressed
Gaza at the same time criticize Hamas, for example. Russia, as Inner
City Press has reported here,
raised in the Council the issue of the Coalition's killing of civilians
Afghanistan, and that was not seen as support for Al Qaeda or the
again, Afghanistan was already on the Security Council's agenda...
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
Click here for Inner City
Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo
Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on
UN, bailout, MDGs
and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
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