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As Silva Barred from Advising UN, Wallstrom Says It's Right, Ban Takes Note

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 23 -- After twenty six days of questions from Inner City Press to the UN how they could accept as a member of the UN "Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations" Major General Shavendra Silva, named in connection with war crimes, on the afternoon of February 22 Silva was told by the Group's chair Louise Frechette that his participation is "not appropriate."

  While much reported, few noted the inaction and refusal to speak of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his head of Peacekeeping, Herve Ladsous.

  On the morning February 23, Inner City Press twice asked Ladsous about Silva and the deteriorated reputation of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. Ladsous refused to make any comment.

  At the UN's noon briefing on February 23, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Eduardo Del Buey if at least Ban had any comment on Silva and his barring, and whether Ban supports the decision of Louise Frechette.

  Del Buey said, "the advice continues to be it is a member state decision." He said that Ban has "taken note" of the development, but it's a member state decision. Video here, from Minute 5:09.

And Sri Lanka is already making moves, soon to be reported by Inner City Press, which can use Ban's shocking passivity, which stands in contrast to, for example, his comments on the decisions of the "member states" on the Security Council. Why does Ban feign or claim powerlessness on this?

After the noon briefing, finally Inner City Press got a UN Secretariat official to not run away from the question of whether it is good for the UN to have an alleged war criminal as an adviser.

The UN's Sexual Violence in Conflict expert, Margot Wallstrom, came to speak to the press. Inner City Press asked about her mandate, and then asked what she thought of Silva as an adviser, and what had to date happened. Video here, from Minute 6:19.

Wallstrom said there "should be consequences" for "atrocities," and that "I understand that this is what has happened, that he has now been banned from this group. Exactly how that has happened, I do not have all the detailed information.... I think that was probably the right thing to do... I think it is important to make statements and clearly position yourself on these issues."

But Ban Ki-moon must disagree: the only position he has taken on whether an alleged war criminal should advise the UN on peacekeeping is that he has no position. Nor, apparently, does Ban's head of peacekeeping Herve Ladsous. And this may, or is sure to, encourage further attempts to launder war crimes in UN blue. 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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