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On Sri Lanka, Ban Didn't Support Frechette on Silva to Not "Antagonize" the Asia Group, France Says; Africa Dissed

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 12 -- Discussions in Geneva about the draft Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka have included many views, and some new stories, about Brigadier General Shavendra Silva.

  Since Silva's 58th Division is in UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's own Panel of Experts report, depicted engaged in war crimes, his participation in Ban's Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations was ruled inappropriate by the chairperson Ban named for the SAG, Louise Frechette.

  But while Ban has routinely said he supports those he appoints, whether it's Ibrahim Gambari in Sudan under fire for taking photos with indictees of the International Criminal Court or Alexander Downer erring in how to refer to Greek-Cypriots and the European Union, Ban has not stood behind Frechette's decision.

  When Inner City Press asked, the response from Ban's office had been that while Ban "takes note of the decision" of Ms. Frechette, whether an alleged war criminal should advise the UN is "up to member states."

  French Permanent Representative to the UN Gerard Araud, when asked by Inner City Press, defended Ban's hands-off approach, saying that for Ban, "it was quite difficult to antagonize a regional group." He did not say, but could have: particularly the Asian Group.

  By contrast, while the African Group repeatedly asked Ban to appoint a separate Special Adviser on Africa, Ban resisted, and finally to the consternation of many in the African Group appointed to the Africa post Maged Abdelaziz of Egypt.

  On March 12 Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky about a relatedly position some in the Group are saying could or should go a sub-Saharan African, without answer.

  So Ban is willing to "antagonize," in Araud's word, the African Group, but not the Asian Group. Ban previously was the foreign minister of South Korea, a member of the Asian Group.

  Araud called Frechette's decision "effective." But in fact, filling the vacuum left by Ban Ki-moon's silence, Sri Lanka is arguing that Frechette acted without support and outside her mandate, and should herself be removed.

(Inner City Press has repeatedly been urged to report on Sri Lanka's argument, and told that then Silva will take questions. We'll see.)

Ban shakes with Silva, Kohona back to camera, HRC not shown (c) MRLee

  The last person Ban removed after governmental complaint was his envoy Schulenberg from Sierra Leone, after President Koroma complained. That will be discussed in the Security Council, this month's Council president Mark Lyall Grant told Inner City Press, on March 22.

   But Sri Lanka never was discussed in a formal Security Council meeting. From the Human Rights Council in Geneva, even with the Sri Lanka resolution pending, US Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Eileen C. Donahoe is leaving to come back to Washington, for a Hillary Clinton "meet-up" of Ambassadors. As one wag, this one, tweeted, you have to choose your HRC based on priorities. [But see this subsequent tweet.] Watch this site.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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