Mr Ban-Ki Moon,”UN Panel” and War Crimes
Posted on December 12th, 2010

Dr Bandula Kothalawala London N7

According to some news reports, Mr Ban-Ki Moon’s “Panel” is expected to submit its Report to him some time early next year. As many contributors to this Forum have rightly pointed out, Mr Ban-Ki Moon’s manoeuvres in this regard are fundamentally flawed, procedurally incorrect and profoundly unjust vis-ƒÆ’†’ -vis a long-standing member of the UN family. This article looks at the appointment of the “Panel”, comments on the terms of reference and some other issues involved and concludes that the Government of Sri Lanka should take no notice of its advice to the UN Secretary-General.  

Appointment of “Panel”

Mr Ban-Ki Moon had no mandate either from the UN Security Council or from the UN General Assembly to appoint a “Panel”. In fact, two permanent members of the Security Council (Russia and China) cast serious doubts on the propriety of the action by the Secretary-General. In addition, non-aligned nations have expressed their displeasure. If the Secretary-General had been genuinely interested in the welfare and safety of civilians in conflict, he should have brought the matter to the attention of the Security Council or the General Assembly, as has been done on countless occasions in the past. It does appear that the UN Secretary-General appointed the “Panel of Experts” in flagrant violation of the UN Charter which reads,

In the performance of their duties the Secretary-General and the staff shall not seek or receive instructions from any government or from any other authority external to the Organization. They shall refrain from any action which might reflect on their position as international officials responsible only to the Organization[1].  It is transparently clear that Mr Ban-Ki Moon has, on this occasion, acted at the behest of some Western governments and NGOs who have aligned themselves against the Government of Sri Lanka for disobeying their dictates.

It is, indeed, curious that the Secretary-General should have gone out of his way to appoint his “Panel” when the UN’s own organ specialised in human rights[2] had already pronounced on “the Situation of Human Rights in Sri Lanka”.  The rump of the LTTE, its mercenaries and the human rights barons have conveniently forgotten that the UN Human Rights Council in May 2009 did hold a special session on the situation in Sri Lanka at the request of its EU members, the US[3], Switzerland and some other members. In the end, the protagonists of the Resolution against Sri Lanka could not even manage to retain all of the original signatories[4] to it, some of whom abstained. Countries like India, South Africa and Malaysia with significantly large populations of ethnic Tamils did not support their Resolution, but voted in favour of a second resolution which, inter alia, commended  “the measures taken by the Government of Sri Lanka to address the urgent needs of the internally displaced persons and welcomed the continued commitment of Sri Lanka to the promotion and protection of all human rights, and encouraged it to continue to uphold its human rights obligations and the norms of international human rights law“[5]. The EU members in the UNHRC and US[6] who had presumably accepted the rules of the game when they moved the Resolution in the UNHRC, strangely enough, cried foul, started regrouping and launched a guerrilla war against Sri Lanka! The subsequent behaviour of the nations concerned is unbecoming of the moral high ground they purport to occupy, smacks of hypocrisy and verges on juvenile delinquency.

The UN has a number of agencies, each with its own specialised area of responsibility and action. The World Health Organisation (WHO) deals with health issues on a global scale. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is concerned with the formulation of policies and practices relating to the rules and regulations governing the world of work and their enforcement. Member countries take part in debates and votes on issues of relevance to that particular agency, accept the outcomes of their deliberations and respect the decisions based mostly on simple majority.  It is extremely rare for a small group of countries[7] touting themselves as “the International Community” to refuse to accept the outcome of a decision-making process which they have, through their own conduct, agreed to and which they are part of, let alone gang up later against a small nation and resort to all manner of arm-twisting tactics unashamedly at the highest level in the UN in concert with a bunch of self-appointed barons from the human rights industry.

Terms of Reference

Even a cursory look at the Terms of Reference of the UN “Panel” will convince an impartial critic that they have been intentionally and deliberately weighted against the Government of Sri Lanka in an astute, but covert attempt to absolve the terror outfit from any serious charge. The terms of Reference as set out in the UN communiquƒÆ’†’© say:

On 22 June 2010, the UN Secretary-General established a Panel of Experts to advise him on the issue of accountability with regard to alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law during the final stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka[8].

It has often been stressed that the Panel is required to look into alleged violations by both parties to the conflict. The key reference here is Final Stages of the conflict. It is no secret that in the final stages of the war, the LTTE was on its knees. It had been, to a great extent, de-fanged, reduced to a shadow of its former self and had become ineffectual as a fighting force. Therefore, it is hard to understand how a UN Panel is to find credible evidence of the atrocities it might have committed in its death throes. The conflict in Sri Lanka had dragged on for over thirty years and caused an estimated 80,000 deaths before the so-called final stage was reached. Thousands of people “”…” unarmed men, women and children including new-born babies and infants- who were not party to the conflict were blown to pieces by the terror outfit during this long period, not to mention the extensive damage caused to the country’s infrastructure and the trauma suffered by the population. By limiting the “Panel” to, and anchoring and confining it in, a loosely defined period, the UN Secretary-General has figuratively, but effectively; shut the stable door securely after letting the LTTE horse (tiger?) bolt safely.

In addition, there is a large body of credible, irrefutable and well-documented evidence of child conscription by the outfit over the years, some of which has been collected and collated by human rights campaigners. That the Secretary-General was unaware of its relevance to the conflict in Sri Lanka beggars belief. It is hard to understand the reasons which led him to choose the final stages, for it will be difficult, though not impossible, to find sufficient evidence of child conscription in the chaotic final stages of the conflict. This is particularly significant in view of the inclusion in the statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) of child conscription or enlisting of children[9] as war crime. The issue is covered more comprehensively in the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the rights of the child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. One cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, comprehend why the UN Secretary-General selected only the final stages of the conflict in the terms of reference when he was fully aware of the fact that some of alleged violations could well have occurred prior to that stage. It is an act of “deliberate omission” by the Secretary-General which will no doubt allow the terror outfit and its mercenaries in the West to keep quiet about the most horrendous and abominable crimes committed against humanity. 

The forcible removal or expulsion by the outfit of Muslims and Sinhalese from the North in large numbers happened, not in the final stages of the conflict, but many years before it. It is evident that Mr Ban-Ki Moon’s “Panel” will not concern itself with the plight of thousands of people who had to flee their villages in fear. Mr Ban-Ki Moon wants his “Panel” to look into the events which occurred only in the final stages so that the despicable crimes committed by the outfit in the preceding years are duly shut out of any investigation. 

Oddly enough, the choice of the period “”…” final stages of the conflict – is tantamount to the recognition by the UN Chief that no serious violations of human rights occurred in the course of the conflict in the 30 odd years preceding the final stages! Otherwise, Mr Ban-Ki Moon could have requested the Security Council or the General Assembly that a thorough investigation be held into the events spanning three decades, couldn’t he? It seems that the poor old Mr Ki-Moon finds himself hoist with his own petard, for his terms of reference do not cover the period during which the most egregious violation of human rights were committed by the terror outfit and expose his complicity in a clumsy, but disingenuous attempt to pull the wool over our eyes and gloss over the heinous crimes by the terror outfit.

If, one the other hand, Mr Ban-Ki Moon genuinely believes that Sri Lankan armed forces and/or the LTTE did not commit any human rights violations in the course of a 30-year war, that is, violations of such gravity as to warrant an inquiry, one is tempted to ask him why he believes that the violations occurred in the final stages of the conflict. Why should an army which did not, based on Mr Ban-Ki Moon’s own reasoning, commit any violation of human rights during thirty odd years sully its image in the final stages of the war?  It is hard to escape the conclusion that Mr Ban-Ki Moon’s “Panel” is a hastily concocted, but half-baked subterfuge which he had to resort to at the behest of his masters in Western capitals and the barons of the human rights industry, in order to “mine for evidence” against Sri Lankan forces without implicating the LTTE, of course. No nation worth its salt, let alone Sri Lanka, should have any truck with an outfit born out of sheer political expediency of the worst kind.

Why Sri Lanka?

Death and destruction has been synonymous with war from time immemorial. The 30-year bloody war in Sri Lanka is no exception. There is no denying the fact that there have been civilian deaths “”…” fact that we all profoundly regret. The Government of Sri Lanka fought a war to safeguard the country’s independence, preserve its territorial integrity and uphold its sovereignty against a ruthless terrorist outfit banned in the European Union, United States, Canada, India and Sri Lanka. The LTTE had usurped the control of some 24% of the territory through violent means and has trampled upon its citizens’ democratic rights for over 25 years.The LTTE had systematically eliminated all moderate Tamil politicians, civic leaders, intellectuals, academics etc.

 It is pertinent to recall how the allied forces during the Second World War resorted to strategic bombing of civilian installations in France occupied by the Nazis in order to prevent their use by them. In 1941-1945, the allied forces bombed ports, railway stations, communications centres, power stations, factories etc. It is estimated that 67,178 unarmed French civilians died in the bombings[10]. It is inconceivable to think that the British, French and US critics of the conduct of the war by Sri Lankan armed forces were unaware of these important facts about the history of their own countries.

 The US and its allies who now wax lyrical about the welfare and safety of civilians did not even bother to compile data on civilian casualties in the illegal Iraqi war. When, in 2006, the Lancet published the result of a serious study and estimated that some 655,000 people lost their lives as a consequence of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, both the US and British Governments contemptuously rejected the figures and said that they had no information on civilian casualties at all. They have been eloquent about the principles of distinction and proportionality in war. The US Strategic Bombing Survey estimated that 305,000 persons were killed and 780,000 were wounded as the consequence of all Allied bombings against Germany in World War II. Over 100,000 civilians died in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. One should not forget that the two cities concerned were bombed after the end of the war in Europe[11] and that there was no military necessity to carry out the horrific attacks.  Nagasaki was bombed just three days after the devastation caused by the first bomb in Hiroshima with scant regard to the principle of proportionality and/or distinction which the US and its allies incessantly pontificate about. The Kuwait””…”Basra road was dubbed the Highway of Death following the ferocious US attacks on the Iraqi Army. There is no evidence that the US Army paid even lip-service to the principle of proportionality.

 It is indeed a great pity that there are no Nobel prizes for hypocrisy.

 Dr Bandula Kothalawala

London N7


[1] Article 100, UN Charter

[2] See Mandate of UNHRC

[3] US had not yet joined the UNHRC, but expressed support for the Resolution.

[4] The Resolution in favour of Sri Lanka was adopted by 29 in favour, with12 against and 6 abstentions. Argentina, Republic of Korea, Ukraine and Mauritius “”…” four of the original signatories to the Resolution against Sri Lanka – abstained while Uruguay “”…” original signatory – in fact voted in favour of Sri Lanka.

[5] Council concludes special session after adopting resolution on assistance to Sri Lanka in promotion and protection of human rights, Press Release, 27 May 2009, UNHRC Website

[6] USA had observer status at the time of the vote on Sri Lanka

[7] The combined population of the 12 countries which voted against Sri Lanka constitutes 6.81% of the world population.

[8] Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Sri Lanka, Para I, UN communication, 18 Oct 2010

[9] Article 8(2)(e)vii, Elements of Crime, Rome Statute

[10] See Quand les alliĮՠթs bombardaient la France by Eddy Florentin, for instance.

[11] Germany unconditionally surrendered on 8 May 1945.

2 Responses to “Mr Ban-Ki Moon,”UN Panel” and War Crimes”

  1. gdesilva Says:

    A timely reminder to the Govt of Sri Lanka and all those who care about Sri Lanka. A good pre-emptive attack rather than coming up with reactive responses after the event. It is time that the Sri Lankans realise that the UN and the other Western cronies are worse than our own King Kakille when it comes to human rights. The Govt should take this opportunity to tell the world that the ’emperor’ is walking around naked rather than trying to defend their accusations.

  2. Sri Rohana Says:

    Ban Ki Moon is a tail of the Yankee donkey. His job is to cover Yankee donkey’s ass. So we cannot expect anything other than him.
    Reality Yankees never expected their lap dog tamil terrorist prabakaran’s death. After Prabakaran killed Rajiv Gandhi and that made destabilized India for a while and brought American henchmen Manmohan Singh to power. MMS opened doors in India to USA and other westerners to freely earn profits as much as they want. They achieved it with the help of prabakaran.
    2). If prabakaran alive it was easier Americans to Balkanize India. They are happy to have 12 south Asian countries than one powerful India. This is the reason Hon President said once he saved India after defeated LTTE. Also he brought peace to the whole South Asian region. Americans failed this.
    3) Americans encourage direct as well as through Norwegian cats paw a separate country in Sri Lanka’s north and east to prabakaran. Ultimate goal is to control Indian Ocean from Trincomalee port and other resources. Americans failed this too.

    Yankees and their NATO bulldogs are not happy of their lap dog prabakaran’s defeat in Sri Lanka. Nothing to surprise they now take revenge from Sri Lanka. They pushed Ban Ki Moon on this agenda. As a tail Ban Ki has to shakes as donkey wants and has to cover donkey’s ass.

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