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UN: Sri Lanka


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As ICP Publishes UN Sri Lanka Report, Spox Admits "No Fire Zone" Didn't Work

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 11 -- After Inner City Press exclusively published the UN's internal report on its "systemic failure" in Sri Lanka in 2009, on Friday Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's associate spokesperson Farhan Haq said that the UN had called for "safe zones."

  Inner City Press asked if this was the notorious "No Fire Zone" in which tens of thousands were killed, which even the UN's John Holmes called the Bloodbath on the Beach. Video here, from Minute 25:27.

  Haq replied of the idea of "safe zones" and "days for halting" conflict that "many of those concepts did not work out or be implemented in the way we would have wanted them to be."

  You don't say. But did the UN call for a ceasefire? No. Did it say anything about the weapons bought or used by the Sri Lankan government? No.

  Now that Inner City Press has published the internal report, with its call for the Deputy Secretary General to take issues to the Security Council, when will it be implemented? Inner City Press asked, and Haq said, "this is something we're going to be in dialogue with member states about." Video here from Minute 6:07.

 Haq said the Secretariat would be briefing NGOs and "the media" - when?

Now that the report has been obtained and published, it's time for the UN to speak out more.

  Since the slaughter, the UN has accepted one of the most involved military figures, Shavendra Silva, on the UN Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations; this month, Silva's putative boss Palitha Kohona, also involved, took over the chair of the UN General Assembly's Sixth (Legal) Committee.

  So what was learned from the cited 1999 Independent Inquiry on UN Action in Rwanda and the 1999 review on the fall of Srebrenica?

  Syria is cited in, and explains, this "Plan of Action to strengthen the UNís role in protecting people in crises." The report says: "Today we are witnessing the agony of the Syrian people. That conflict is a test - not just of Member Statesí will to fulfil their responsibilities, but of the UNís ability to use all the tools at its disposal to make sure that people are protected."

  Again, this may explain the report: while the Western P3 members of the Security Council, the US, France and UK, did not much or at all push Ban Ki-moon to "do something" about the slaughter in Sri Lanka -- the UK is holding its Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting there -- they are pushing, and hard, on the issue of Syria and ousting Bashar al Assad. So, now a UN report and plan for "Rights Up Front." What next?

The plan says the UN will "hold accountable staff, particularly at senior levels." But if the UN can't even admit and apologize for bringing cholera to Haiti, what does accountability mean?

  If Ban's UN allows its head of peacekeeping Herve Ladsous to openly refuse to answer Press questions about mass rape by his partners in the Congolese Army, where is the accountability? Now that farce has been reported this week in the UK New Statesman, here.

 This comes after the UN's Censorship Alliance tried to oust Inner City Press for its Sri Lanka reporting, then spied against it to the UN, click here for that; it is the new Free UN Coalition for Access, despite threats from the UN, now working to further open the UN.

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