Govt. to resolve peacekeeping missions issues with UN | Sunday Observer

Govt. to resolve peacekeeping missions issues with UN

Following discussions with President Maithripala Sirisena and the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) last week, the government will commence negotiations with the United Nations Country Director for Sri Lanka this week to resolve issues pertaining to the deployment of military and police officers in UN peacekeeping missions, the Defence Secretary-General (Rtd) Shantha Kottegoda told the Sunday Observer yesterday (22).

After the end of the war in 2009, the UN peacekeeping missions stressed the need for vetting military personnel prior to going on UN peacekeeping missions.

Subsequently, the HRCSL was selected by the UN to conduct vetting.

Last week, President Maithripala Sirisena held a meeting with Defence and HRCSL officials to discuss the delay in clearing the names of security personnel who are willing to go for UN peacekeeping missions.

Defence Secretary-General (Rtd) Kottegoda and Chairperson of the HRCSL, Dr Deepika Udagama attended the meeting where the President instructed the HRCSL to take immediate measures to resolve issues with regard to the vetting process, through a common understanding and liaison between all stakeholders.

“It was a fruitful discussion. We understood that the delay was due to the double vetting process. Currently vetting is done by the HRCSL and the UN. This has created a massive delay. But we will be able to prevent it after discussions with UN officials,” Kottegoda said.

According to Defence Ministry sources, the deployment of a contingent of Special Task Force (STF) officers is currently pending due to the delay in the vetting process.

Kottegoda said that the Government is willing to hold talks with the UN. “We have an alternative plan that is to nominate soldiers in advance, even before vacancies arise which will help get over delays.

There are a large number of Sri Lankan soldiers deployed in Mali. We can send another list of names before they end their contract,” he said. Currently Sri Lankan military personnel are deployed in peacekeeping missions in Lebanon, South Sudan and Mali.