Sri Lanka, UN Meeting Called One-Off, UK Makes No Proposals, Holmes
Differs from Ban
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, February 27 --
After the Security Council's closed-door meeting on Sri Lanka, Council
president Yukio Takasu emerged to tell the Press that that conflict, in
more than 2000 civilians have been killed so far this year, will not be
Council agenda item going forward. Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin,
before the meeting began, called the briefing by UN humanitarian chief
Holmes a "one-time" event. Video here,
from Minute 6:45.
While in London UK Foreign Minister David
Miliband spoke about publicly about a strategy of proposing a Council
resolution on Sri Lanka, in New York UK Ambassador John Sawers did not
propose a Presidential Statement. He left the Council stakeout after
single question, ignoring Inner City Press' question about what
Miliband had said. By contrast, even knowing albeit late that it would
be vetoed, the UK and U.S. put forward a sanctions resolution on
Zimbabwe last year. (US Ambassador Susan Rice was not at Friday's
meeting, and no US representative came to the stakeout to speak.)
Inner City Press has obtained a copy of Holmes
prepared remarks to the
Council's closed-door session, and puts it online here.
Whereas Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on
February 23 called for a suspension of fighting and for political
to bring an end to the conflict, Holmes on February 27 spoke of
political issues only "after the end of the fighting."
that the UN Secretariat's public call is undermined by a more private
to the Sri Lankan military's offensive in north Sri Lanka.
Holmes also dodged the question of whether UN money
would be use for
camps the Sri Lankan government in building in which Tamil people who
bombs in the conflict zone would be detained until at least the end of
Inner City Press also asked Japan's Takasu, who had mentioned
humanitarian law, about the camps, and his lengthy answer did not
legality of the planned detentions. Video here,
from Minute 6:25. Nor did he answer whether it is the government which
is keeping media from covering the conflict. (While under no
restriction, at the post-meeting stakeout interviews, while Bloomberg
News was there, other wires including UK-based Reuters were not
When both in New York, UK's Miliband and
Sawers, Sri Lanka proposals not shown
Inner City Press asked Holmes about reports that he
used the Sri Lankan
government's Minister of Resettlement as his translator. Holmes
this happened, then said "you should credit me with enough
intelligence" to assess what people told me, surrounded by the
armed guards. But locals say that while a woman spoke of her son
the Army, Holmes was told she'd said her son was killed by the Tamil
Holmes told the
Council of various assurances the government gave him.
But when Inner City Press asked if he had proof the government has
using heavy weapons, he admitted he did not. He went on, as he did but
initially in Gaza, to note that it is "hard to distinguish civilian and
LTTE cadres." Video here,
from Minute 4:30.
In fact, Medecins Sans Frontieres / Doctors
Without Borders put out of field report of February 26 describing how a
family spent days in a bunker without food and water. Out of
despite the shelling, they left their bunker to get some food when
three out of
her 15 family members were killed on the spot." This
is the situation which the UN's
humanitarian operation is, some say, glossing over, because of politics
Inner City Press asked outgoing Council president
Takasu about these
politics, to explain why for example in Sudan the Council does not
the Justice and Equality Movement, which recruited child soldiers and
in an assault on Omdurman last year, lay down its arms before urging
to refrain for retaking rebel held land and negotiating with JEM.
to say that the Council's approach to Darfur and Sri Lanka is
Why, Inner City Press,
is Sudan then on the Council's agenda, and Sri Lanka is not? The answer
politics. This topic is explored on an
online debate, following-up on the one linked-to below, that will go
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
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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