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UN Peacekeeping in Lebanon "Inspected" By Sri Lanka's Silva, Despite Record

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 6 -- The UN is ostensibly taking seriously its admitted failings during the killings in northern Sri Lanka in 2009, with Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson leading a group to review the damning Petrie report released three weeks ago. Click here for Inner City Press story, Lanka pick up.

  But Sri Lankan General Shavendra Silva, whose division was depicted engaged in war crimes in the UN's report which estimated 40,000 deaths, is still penetrating the UN, this time visiting and even inspecting the UN Mission in Lebanon UNIFIL from November 28 through December 4, 2012.

  Previously, when Sri Lanka negotiated to get the Asia Group's seat on Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations and then gave the seat to Silva, there was investigative reporting and an outcry, even among senior Asia Group Permanent Representatives.

  While Ban Ki-moon declined to take a position, telling Inner City Press it was a decision on member states, the chair of the SAG ruled that Silva could not participate. Other SAG members bragged to Inner City Press about this decision, saying it showed that the UN works.

  But now, through the so-called UN "Military and Police Advisors Community," MPAC, Silva has gotten even more directly involved in UN Peacekeeping. What standards are there?

Shavandra Silva was also allowed to launder himself at the UN when he appeared in the Dag Hammarskjold Library auditorium to screen the Sri Lankan government's war crimes denial film, "Lies Agreed To," the repercussions of which continue still.

  On December 5, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky about the Petrie report and on "Shavendra Silva, it is now said that he is inspecting the movement of troops in Lebanon, is it true?"

  Nesirky told Inner City Press, "we take that report from Charles Petrie and his team extremely seriously, including the recommendations. The Chef de Cabinet made clear that steps will be taken to set up a group to look at those recommendations. That is being headed by the Deputy Secretary-General, and moves are under way to pull together the team that will look at those recommendations. On the very first point you made, and on the second point, again, I am sure my colleagues from DPKO are listening attentively, and will help me out.

DPKO is headed by Herve Ladsous, who has refused to answer Press questions about Shavendra Silva and other topics. But UNIFIL provided an answer on December 6, through Nesirky's Office:

Subject: Your question on Shavendra Silva
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Thu, Dec 6, 2012 at 10:46 AM
To: Inner City Press

The United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon informs that Major General Shavendra Silva was part of the Military-Police Advisers Community (MPAC) delegation visiting the mission from 28 Nov - 4 Dec 2012. The official MPAC programme included briefings and visits to UN positions. The MPAC is a group comprising permanent missions' military attaches and police advisers.

  When one goes to the UN MPAC's website, it is hard to find out more: page after page says "you are not authorized." Even the "Contact Us" button leads to "Contact not found!"
There is a Pasqual reference to the "Easter" European Group, and FAQS are one letter off.

  But the UN MPAC's Guidelines state that

"There are usually two MPAC field trips each year, preferably one in spring and the other in fall.  Identification of the missions and institutions to be visited and the dates are done in consultation with DPKO. MPAC members are  usually requested to volunteer as coordinators of the visits. They brief the members on the visits and also coordinate the preparation of the final report which is forwarded to DPKO/DFS and to the entire MPAC membership after the visit."

  So while Shavendra Silva's name may or may not be on the SAG report to Ban Ki-moon (the UN has refused to answer), he may play a role in a report to Ladous about UNIFIL.

  Inner City Press has previously been invited to one of the MPAC's events, a farewell for the Nigerian military adviser. The attendees were just that, military advisers, at ranks below that of Silva's Deputy Permanent Representative rank. To some it appears Silva took a demotion in order to launder himself through the MPAC, and ultimately through DPKO.

   Inner City Press previously asked Ladsous what he thought of Shavendra Silva as an adviser, given his record, and how it reflected on UN Peacekeeping. Ladsous refused to answer. But now, someone should answer. Watch this site.

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