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NAM stands by Sri Lanka

UNSG’s decision to appoint advisory panel:



Dr. Palitha Kohona



Maged A. Abdelaziz of Egypt

Last week the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the largest regional bloc representing two thirds of the UN membership, backed Sri Lanka in its outright rejection of the UN Secretary General (UNSG) Ban Ki-Moon’s intended advisory panel on Sri Lanka.

In a strongly worded letter addressed to the UNSG, Egyptian Permanent Representative in New York Maged A. Abdelaziz, the current chair of NAM said, “the Non-Aligned Movement strongly condemns selective targeting of individual countries, which it deems contrary to the founding Principles of the Movement and the United Nations Charter.”

Ban Ki-Moon, in a letter dated February 25, 2010, conveyed to President Mahinda Rajapaksa his intention to appoint an expert panel to advise him ‘on the way forward’ on accountability issues stemming from alleged human rights violations during the final operations against LTTE terror.

The unanimous decision by the Non-Aligned Movement’s 118 Members is seen as a major diplomatic victory for Sri Lanka by UN observers.

Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN Dr. Palitha Kohona briefed the Sunday Observer of his address before the regional coalition where the Members upheld Sri Lanka’s stance.

In a speech at the NAM Coordinating Committee meeting on March 9 at the UN Headquarters, Dr. Kohona warned, “this development could have serious implications for us all”.

He said the Member States needed to act if the Secretary-General, whose responsibility is to engage with its Members, were to appoint advisory panels selectively on Member States against their wishes. “This will set a precedent that will be difficult to manage”.

He added “We, in the NAM, endorse the International Bill of Human Rights and believe that there should be no impunity for violations of International Law. My country supports this position and will do everything necessary to address accountability issues through domestic processes.

Sri Lanka has a mature domestic legal structure which is quite capable of managing issues of this nature without outside interference. We strongly object to unilateral initiatives of this nature by the Secretary-General”.

In conclusion Dr.Kohona requested the NAM Chair to write to the Secretary-General on Sri Lanka’s behalf and convey the concerns of this Movement to the proposed action by the Secretary-General.

The NAM Chair in his letter added, “I would like to convey the Non- Aligned countries’ deep concern about the announced intention to appoint a Panel of Experts to advise on accountability issues relating to Sri Lanka, which comes as a reaction to proposals by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights that are based on information that does not take into account the particularities of the domestic situation, and without consultation with the Government concerned.”

President Mahinda Rajapaksa flatly rejected the move by Ki-Moon to appoint this ‘ad-hoc’ panel, in his telephone conversation with the latter on March 4. He stated ‘Sri Lanka looked forward to treatment as per the United Nations Charter that provides for equal treatment to all members of the UN, while respecting the principle of non-interference in the internal matters of States.’

Internal matter

A senior official from the Colombo UN office told Sunday Observer the Secretary General cannot act unilaterally involving an internal matter of a Member country without the consent of the UN Security Council or the General Assembly. Therefore, this action amounted to a breach of the UN mandate.

Similar advisory panels on Nepal, Guatemala and Cambodia were sanctioned by the Security Council. A UN Commission to probe the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was initiated following requests from Pakistan.

The NAM Chair has also pointed out: “Neither the Security Council nor the General Assembly or its subsidiary Human Rights Council, has made pronouncements on alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka or mandated any particular course of action. The situation in Sri Lanka is not on the agenda of any of these bodies, and there is nothing in the Charter of the United Nations that authorises intervention in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State”. In fact Sri Lanka crushed a move by the Western bloc to defeat Sri Lanka at a special Security Council session in May 2009, shortly after the war against LTTE terror ended.

Almost two thirds of the Security Council membership supported Sri Lanka at this special session and upheld that the country should be assisted in its post-war rebuilding efforts.

Further, the Non-Aligned Movement has firmly opposed unilateral evaluation and certification of the conduct of States, as proposed by Ban Ki-Moon’s advisory panel, as a means of exerting pressure on Non-Aligned and other developing countries.

The UN Head of Mission in Colombo has confirmed that he has not been consulted by New York in their decision to appoint an advisory panel, neither have they consulted the Government of Sri Lanka for their views.

If the Security Council did not ask for it, the General Assembly or the Human Rights Council did not want it, the question remains as to who wants an advisory panel on Sri Lanka on accountability issues.

A Foreign Ministry official said a powerful Western country and certain INGOs were behind pressurising the UNSG into taking such unwarranted action.

The senior official said never in history has there been a unilateral decision on the part of the Secretary General to appoint an advisory panel of a similar nature which amounts to intervention in the internal matters of a sovereign nation.

INGO resources for LTTE

During the final phase of the operations in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu the military forces uncovered evidence of how INGO finances and resources meant for civilian welfare ended up with the LTTE and how their funding was funnelled to already overflowing LTTE coffers. The LTTE, though defeated internally, largely remains intact overseas. Its remnants through various fronts propagate the separatist agenda of the LTTE.

Terrorism experts warn that with its still intact reserves accumulated through illegal means such as drug trafficking, gun running, human smuggling and credit card scams over so many years, they could be in a position to buy in and buy out politicians of even powerful nations, as per their wish. A senior State official said, the UN Chief has intended appointing an advisory panel on Lanka despite the fact there is a global outcry on the UN to probe war crimes charges against the US and the UK for their actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The action of the UN Secretary General is unprecedented in the backdrop of funeral processions and wedding parties being bombed by Drones, killing hundreds of innocent civilians.”

Further, Sri Lanka has never been charged for humiliating, raping or inhuman torture of prisoners of war in detention camps like Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, or Bagram.

It is interesting to note the two reports published below:

Top UN official accuses US of inhuman ‘atrocities’ in Iraq, Afghanistan

Fox News, March 4

A top UN official accused the United States of committing inhuman “atrocities” in Iraq and Afghanistan during a speech Wednesday to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“The aggressions against Iraq and Afghanistan and their occupations constitute atrocities that must be condemned and repudiated by all who believe in the rule of law in international relations,” said UN General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann.

D’Escoto claimed that US actions have directly led to more than a million Iraqi civilian deaths since 2003, a vastly inflated figure that does not correspond with the UN’s own estimates.

The UN’s health and medical agency, the World Health Organization, says 151,000 Iraqis have died since the 2003 invasion. IraqBodyCount.org puts the death toll between 90,000 and 99,245. D’Escoto’s fiery speech came on the day the Obama administration decided to take up observer status on the Human Rights Council, which the Bush administration had boycotted because it was unable to crack down on despots and human rights abuses.

D’Escoto urged the Council to put the human rights situation in Iraq on its agenda, accusing the US of war crimes and a series of human rights violations. “These must be addressed to bring an end to the scandalous present impunity,” he said.

Excerpts from an article written by George Monbiot in the Guardian, UK on January 25, 2010, under the title ‘Wanted: Tony Blair for war crimes. Arrest him and claim your reward’

Under the United Nations Charter, two conditions must be met before a war can legally be waged. The parties to a dispute must first “seek a solution by negotiation” (article 33). They can take up arms without an explicit mandate from the UN Security Council only “if an armed attack occurs against [them]” (article 51).

Neither of these conditions applied here. The US and UK Governments rejected Iraq’s attempts to negotiate. At one point the US State Department even announced that it would “go into thwart mode” to prevent the Iraqis from resuming talks on weapons inspection. Iraq had launched no armed attack against either nation.

We also know that the UK government was aware that the war it intended to launch was illegal. In March 2002, the Cabinet Office explained that “a legal justification for invasion would be needed. Subject to law officers’ advice, none currently exists.”

In July 2002, Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General, told the prime minister that there were only “three possible legal bases” for launching a war - “self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC [Security Council] authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case.” Bush and Blair later failed to obtain Security Council authorisation.

As the resignation letter on the eve of the war from Elizabeth Wilmshurst, then deputy legal adviser to the Foreign Office, revealed, her office had “consistently” advised that an invasion would be unlawful without a new UN resolution. She explained that “an unlawful use of force on such a scale amounts to the crime of aggression”.

 

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