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On Sri Lanka, Mexico Invokes Responsibility to Protect, Rebukes Colombo's "Inaccuracies"

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, April 13 -- In the midst of a military offensive in Northern Sri Lanka in which over 3000 civilians have been killed, Sri Lanka's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has put out a statement that the government of Mexico, which requested UN Security Council briefings on the issue, has now committed to keep it off the Council's agenda.

   Citing the statement, Inner City Press on April 13 asked Mexican Ambassador Claude Heller if the Sri Lankan government is accurate that its Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona was told by Mexican vice minister Gomez-Robledo that  "they do not have any intention of permitting the Sri Lankan situation to be placed on the Security Council agenda" and that "the Mexican authorities saw the parallels between their own experience in Chiapas and the negative impact of a cleverly manipulated propaganda machine." Statement here, video here from Minute 8:42.

    "It is not an accurate statement," Ambassador Heller replied. "We were very clear that in the case of Sri Lanka there is a concern of the responsibility to protect the population." Video here, from Minute 9.  The Responsibility to Protect is a doctrine, accepted in the UN General Assembly, that if a country cannot or does not protect its population from harm, the international community can intervene to do so.

   Sri Lanka's and Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona's now rebuked mis-summary of their meeting with Mexican officials is not the first case of cognitive dissonance. It has happened regarding telephone calls with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The Sri Lanka - Mexico meeting, R2P not shown

   Inner City Press asked at the UN noon briefing on March 25:

Inner City Press: There was a statement by the Foreign Secretary of Sri Lanka that the country has received no criticism from the UN of how it’s conducting its conflict in the north.  He says that Ms. [Navi] Pillay, the Human Rights Commissioner, “is not the UN”, and apparently implies that, in the discussions between the President and the Secretary-General, there’s been no criticism whatsoever of any action of the Government.  I wanted to know, is that consistent with your understanding of those calls?

Spokesperson Michele Montas:  As far as I know, a number of issues were raised.  Humanitarian issues were also raised.

    It should again be noted that Sri Lanka's foreign secretary Palitha Kohona, who said the UN High Commission for Human rights "is not the UN" and now blatantly mis-summarizes his meetings in Mexico himself served in and led the UN's Treaty Section. "He knows better," one official told Inner City Press. After a call by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to President Rajapaksa and his brother(s), Sri Lanka summarized that "Mrs. Clinton appreciated the assurances given by the Secretary of Defense that civilians would not be subjected to any attacks by the military, stating the U.S. looked forward to working with Sri Lanka once the current conflict ends.”

The US State Department, to the contrary, said that  “The Secretary stated that the Sri Lanka Army should not fire into the civilian areas of the conflict zone... She urged the President to give international humanitarian relief organizations full access to the conflict area and displaced persons camps, including screening centers."

  We are preparing a new report on these camps and centers, watch this site.

 Inner City Press also asked Ambassador Heller about the wording of the Council's North Korea Presidential Statement, video here from Minute 6:06, article here.

  Click here for a new YouTube video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

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

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