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UN: Sri Lanka


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On Sri Lanka, Eliasson Says "Speak What We See," Ban Hasn't Released Report

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 9, updated with video -- At the UN, when does hand-wringing stop and action or at least disclosure begin?

  Since early August, a UN report on its own inaction in Sri Lanka in 2009 as 40,000 civilians were being killed has been finished. Inner City Press was told that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon would have something to say about it in September.

 He said a few lines in the General Assembly; Inner City Press asked his spokesperson's office when the report would be released.

It is now October 9, and the report is nowhere to be found. But Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson, in remarks prepared for the Council on Foreign Relations, goes further than Ban:

"With respect to Sri Lanka, an internal review of UN action at the end of the civil war in 2009 noted a 'systemic' failure of different parts of the UN. Member States did no meet the tasks they themselves had set. The UN system did not adapt properly when the final brutal stage of the conflict put great pressure for a broader UN presence, which had been focused on development.

"A main lesson we are to draw from this is to ensure that the UN system has political and human rights expertise and resources in place where they are needed. Equally important is to recognize that human rights violations are our best early warning signals in emerging crises-- and, of course, that we must act on such signals and speak out about what we see. On behalf of the Secretary General, I have led this internal scrutiny. There is important work for the Member States as well."

  While Eliasson's statement is welcome -- admitting that the UN did not speak out about what it saw and, of course, withdrew from Kilinochchi, for example -- still the report should be released. The silence at the UN was noted yesterday in the UK New Statesman, here. The report must be released, says the alternative Free UN Coalition for Access @FUNCA__info. Watch this site.

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