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Sri Lanka's Silva Is Ruled "Not Appropriate" for UN Advisory Group, "Won't Participate" After War Crimes Reporting

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 22, updated -- Culminating twenty six days of questions from Inner City Press to the UN and then various countries' missions to the UN how they could accept as a member of the UN "Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations" Major General Shavendra Silva, on the afternoon of February 22 Silva was told by the Group's chair that his participation is "not appropriate."

The move comes after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told Inner City Press he could do nothing about being advised by Silva, whose Division 58 is repeatedly named in connection with war crimes in Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Panel of Experts report on Sri Lanka.

However, the Permanent Representative of Bangladesh told Inner City Press that Silva was "not acceptable," and said that his counterparts from India and Pakistan felt the same. Inner City Press asked High Commissioner Navi Pillay (on camera) and US Ambassador Susan Rice (off camera) and each said they had expressed concern to Ban's Secretariat.

Update of 5:55 pm: Inner City Press asked Rice about the day's proceedings and statement, noting that while Silva did not speak he had remained present to the end. Rice told Inner City Press of Silva, "He's a goner."

So had Amnesty International, whose representative to the UN Jose Luis Diaz subsequently told Inner City Press:

"This development comes not a moment too soon. It was simply outrageous and unbelievable that a person named in the report of the UN Secretary-General's own Sri Lanka accountability panel as heading a military unit about which there were credible allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity could serve in any capacity on behalf of the UN, let alone in a senior advisory group on peacekeeping. The appointment risked tarnishing the credibility and legitimacy of the United Nations and its peacekeeping role. We salute Ms Frechette's decision, which in fact is the only conscionable one."

Silva smiles with Ban - "member states made me do it"? (c) MRLee

  There was some face-saving, including by a group which refuses to even summarize its meetings with Ban, only selectively sends spin, and was by no means the first human rights group to write to Ban on this matter. This group was then credited by a French-owned wire service, with no mention of actual journalism done on the story.

  Still, Ban and his spokesmen maintained Ban could do nothing. Inner City Press was promised a direct answer to all of its questions, as they were referred to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations' spokesman.

  But the Permanent Representative of Jordan, Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein, told Inner City Press, after the Sri Lankan mission got the UN to throw the Press out of the UN-funded building at 380 Madison where the SAG was meeting, that chairwoman Frechette was issuing a statement.

   Inner City Press wrote to Ban's spokesmen asking for it, just as it has asked the DPKO spokesman where the meeting was, without answer except "These queries are not directed to the correct part of the United Nations. Neither the Department of Peacekeeping Operations nor the Department of Field Services runs the Special Advisory Group. You should contact the Special Advisory Group for such matters" -- which, he later said, has no spokesperson.

At 3:30 pm, DPKO's spokesman sent the UN press corps this, while preemptive refusing to answer questions and saying Frechette has no spokesperson:

Press Statement

Louise Fréchette

Chairperson of the Special Advisory Group to consider rates of reimbursement to troop contributing countries and other related issues

In its Resolution 65/289, the General Assembly asked the Secretary-General to establish a Senior Advisory Group (SAG) to consider rates of reimbursement to troop contributing countries and other related issues.

Following careful consideration and consultation with other SAG members, the Chair, Louise Fréchette, has advised Major General Shavendra Silva of Sri Lanka, that his participation is not appropriate or helpful for the purposes of this Group. He will not participate in its deliberations.

New York
22 February 2012

  The "fix" that several Permanent Representatives told Inner City Press about involved telling Sri Lanka to send their fellow PR Palitha Kohona rather than Silva. But Silva pushed it to the end -- all the while blaming the Press for his problems -- until this statement came out, the SAG chairwoman ordering that Silva "not participate in its deliberations."

  Has Sri Lanka cost the Asia Group a seat?

  Outside the meeting, a participant told Inner City Press that Silva inside had "not said a word." He left angrily in his $100,000 BMW, with Inner City Press filming. Now what? Watch this

   Prior to these developments, the Sri Lankan Mission's action was to send a letter of complaint to Inner City Press, sending a copy to Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky as well as to some in the UN press corps.

  Inner City Press in less than 24 hours published and responded to the letter, citing only some of the many references to Silva's Division 58 in the report.

  Now that's updated, and Silva is blaming his problems on the Press. How about the deeds, of May 2009 and before? 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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