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In UN, Human Rights Grab for "Rule of Law," Citing Failure in Sri Lanka, Jails, Police

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, October 14 -- Last Friday, Inner City Press exclusively published the UN's internal report on its "systemic failure" in Sri Lanka in 2009.

  Then Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's associate spokesperson Farhan Haq when it would be implemented. Haq said, "this is something we're going to be in dialogue with member states about."

  Now Inner City Press is exclusively publishing the "real" move inside the UN which uses the "Internal Review Panel" report and the slaughter of 40,000 in Sri Lanka to argue for a bureaucratic turf grab. Click here for view.

  The four-page proposal, called "The Third Pillar, October 4, 2013" is ascribed to deputy human rights official Ivan Simonovic. He aims to replace Navi Pillay when her the "half mandate" Ban Ki-moon begrudgingly gave her expires in August 2014. This is described as his campaign platform.

  Simonovic proposes that the UN's human rights machinery, which he aims to head, take over the rest of the UN system's "Rule of Law" positions, and also such mandates as Sexual Violence in Conflict, Children and Armed Conflict, Violence against Children, Anti-Genocide and R2P.

  He connects this grab to the Sri Lanka "Internal Review Panel" -- he does not even mention Sri Lanka once, just the panel -- saying that "This year, a Secretary-General’s Internal Review Panel concluded that the UN had systematically failed to protect human rights through the rule of law in a crisis situation."

To further make the case for his power grab, he gives examples without naming the countries of the UN's failure:

"4. By way of example, to reduce over-crowding in one country where 98% of prisoners are in illegal pre-trial detention, UN actors supported construction of a new prison instead of addressing the human rights violations that had led to the prolonged pre-trial detention which, in turn, led to over-crowding. In another country, the UN has invested considerable capital in supporting State authorities to increase police recruitment, but far fewer efforts in addressing the impunity among the many police officers allegedly responsible for extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations."

  Yep, this sounds like the UN. But would putting more offices under Simonovic be the answer? Are the UN's problems one of bureaucratic structure, or do they run deeper?

  For Simonovic, as for so many in the UN system, it all comes down to posts:

"resources could be drawn from: (1) all of OHCHR (c.500 staff HQ posts); (2) the “criminal law and judicial advisory Service” of OROLSI (c.20 staff HQ posts) and some of the OROLSI police posts involved in institution building; (3) the ‘Justice Section and Criminal Justice programme’ in UNODC; (4) the EOSG rule of law unit (c.6 staff HQ posts)."

  That's just the beginning: now these mandates would be brought in:

"9. Another area to streamline is support and coherence of the mandates of the Special Advisers and Representatives on the Prevention of Genocide, the Responsibility to Protect, Children in Armed Conflict, Sexual Violence in Conflict, and Violence Against Children. AAll the mandates cover overlapping human rights concerns. For instance, targeted killings and sexual violence against children from an ethnic group in an armed conflict fall within the mandates of all six offices. The collected mandates draw valuable attention to particular aspects of violations that may otherwise have been ignored, leading to positive changes to human rights situations. However, at times they duplicate each other’s work, compete for limited political attention and funding from Member States, and fragment UN situation analysis and the pool of human resources."

  Tellingly, one common denominator is the way in which mandates have been undermined by UN Peacekeeping under its fourth French head in a row, Herve Ladsous. On Sexual Violence and Conflict, Ladsous even after 135 rapes in Minova in November 2012 continues to support the implicated Congolese Army units, the 41st and 391st Battalions.

  On Children and Armed Conflict, Ladsous decided to incorporate Chad, still on the UN list for recruiting child soldiers, into the French-triggered mission in Mali, MINUSMA. Now Chadian peacekeepers are accused of gang rape in Gao, and despite Inner City Press question there are no follow up responses.

Ladsous refuses to answer any Inner City Press questions, as covered last week in the UK New Statesman, here. This is how the UN rots, how ever it is configured.

  The UN's response to its undeniable failure in Sri Lanka must be better than this. And in the interim, on the push-back in the turf war set off by Simonovic's campaign platform proposal, we'll have more. Read it, exclusively, here, and tell us what you think. Watch this site.


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