Posted on December 2nd, 2012

The Secretary-General’s Internal Review Panel

1. On 22 June 2010 the United Nations’ (UN) Secretary-General established a “Panel of Experts on accountability in Sri Lanka” (Panel of Experts) to advise him on accountability during the final stages of the war in Sri Lanka. In addition to its conclusions regarding the need for accountability for violations by the parties to the conflict, the Panel of Experts also concluded that there was a need for the UN to review its own actions1. On 12 April 2011, the Panel of Experts presented its report to the Secretary-General, along with a memorandum stating its view that while many UN staff had distinguished themselves during the final stages of the conflict, some agencies and individuals had failed in their mandates to protect people, had under-reported Government violations, and suppressed reporting efforts by their field staff. The memorandum said that the UN “did not adequately invoke principles of human rights that are the foundation of the UN but appeared instead to do what was necessary to avoid confrontation with the government.”2 The memorandum described the failure to act by Member States as a low mark for the UN.

2. In response, the Secretary-General established an Internal Review Panel on UN actions in Sri Lanka (the Panel) tasked with: (i) providing an overview and assessment of UN actions during the final stages of the war in Sri Lanka and its aftermath, particularly regarding the implementation of its humanitarian and protection mandates; (ii) assessing the contribution and effectiveness of the UN system in responding to the escalating  fighting and in supporting the Secretary-General’s political engagement; (iii) identifying institutional and structural strengths and weaknesses, and providing recommendations for the UN and its Member States in dealing  with similar situations; and (iv) making recommendations on UN policies or guidelines pertaining to protection and humanitarian responsibilities, and on strengthening the system of UN Country Teams (UNCTs) and the capacity of the UN as a whole to respond effectively to similar situations of escalated conflict.3 The Panel began work in late April 2012 and submitted the present report to the Secretary-General in early November 2012.

3. The Panel, set up at the Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) level, was composed of a Head of Panel, Charles Petrie, and three staff. It also had limited additional ad hoc staffing from the UN Secretariat and agencies. The Panel reviewed about 7,000 documents, including UN internal emails and correspondence with the Government of Sri Lanka, minutes of UN meetings, UN public statements, publicly available reports by the UN, civil society, and the Government of Sri Lanka, video and photographs. The Panel met with representatives from the UN, Member States and civil society, as well as with the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN. The Panel held periodic progress-review meetings with a Reference Group, representing the primary UN entities (departments, agencies and programmes) involved in UN action in Sri Lanka. In addition, the Panel asked several UN entities to host discussions on the dilemmas that the UN confronted in Sri Lanka, including balancing staff security with other mandated responsibilities, maintaining protection advocacy while also preserving access, and engaging with Member 1 Recommendation 4.B, Report of the Panel of Experts, 31 March 2011.  Annex I. 5 States. The Panel also convened a one-day seminar of high-level current and former UN officials to discuss systemic issues regarding the UN’s response to similar crises.

II. The events and United Nations actions
4. This section of the report gives an overview of events. A more detailed narrative is provided in Annex III.

A. Lead up to the final stages “”…” 2002/2008

5. Over the past few decades, Sri Lanka’s history has been marked by political, social and ethnic violence. Sri Lanka’s 21 million-strong population includes a large majority of Sinhalese, as well as Tamils, Muslims,  Burghers, Veddahs, and other minority ethnic communities. In the 1970s and 1980s, tens of thousands of people, many of them youths, were killed in political violence and conflict. The Government introduced legislation which limited the jurisdiction of courts to check abuses. From the late 1970s, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had begun fighting the Government with the aim of establishing the state of Tamil Eelam in the north and east of Sri Lanka.4 The LTTE used violence to silence other Tamil groups, and carried out suicide bombings against military, political and civilian targets. During these decades, Sri Lanka
had one of the world’s highest rates of disappearances by the State, as well as widespread cases of unlawful killings and torture by both State and non-State actors.

6. The last in a series of internationally supported efforts to resolve the situation in Sri Lanka took the form of the Norwegian-sponsored February 2002 Cease Fire Agreement (CFA) and its monitoring body the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM). The CFA led to a reduction in armed clashes between the main parties to the conflict. However, the parties also used it to consolidate and improve their positions, and CFA and human rights violations persisted.6 Within a 24-month period a series of developments changed the political context, in favour of the Government’s pursuit of a military, rather than political, solution to the conflict: (i) in March
2004, the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) split from the LTTE to ally itself with the Government; (ii) the 2005 Presidential election victory of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party’s candidate, Mahinda Rajapaksa, backed by a nationalist coalition saw a shift towards a military strategy7; and (iii) the LTTE’s continuing attacks on civilians, combined with the post- September 11 international consensus against political engagement with groups using terror tactics, led to the LTTE’s increasing international political isolation. Following the European Union’s May 2006 declaration of the LTTE as a terrorist organization8, the LTTE demanded that
monitors of EU nationality be removed from the SLMM, severely weakening the entity’s capacity to monitor CFA breaches. The peace process had stalled.

For Full Report Go to



  1. Lorenzo Says:

    Power sharing?
    Two-state solution?
    de facto?

    Some BAD lessons from Israel and Palestine.

    “Israel exacted a price for the UN’s de facto recognition of Palestine on Sunday by confiscating £75 million in revenues even as the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, triumphantly told thousands of followers: “Now we have a state.”

    The decision was the latest sign of Israel’s mounting fury over last week’s vote and came two days after Mr Netanyahu’s government announced it would build 3,000 new settlers’ home in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, effectively annexing land the Palestinians have earmarked as part of a future state.

    Israel’s finance minister, Yuval Steinitz, said this month’s PA tax revenues would be withheld to pay off its debts to the Israel Electric Corporation, which supplies the Palestinians with power. Israel transfers money to the PA as part of the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords, which is designed to pave the way towards a two-state solution.

    “Today we are building and we will continue to build in Jerusalem and in all areas that are on the map of the strategic interests of the State of Israel,” he said.

    “Israel will not allow Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) to become a terror base from which rockets will be launched into Israeli towns,” he said.

    Last Friday’s announcement of new settlers’ homes, including some in a highly-contentious area known as E1, was denounced by the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, who said it would damage the chances of achieving a two-state solution.

    -telegraph UK

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    Before UN does similar BS, we should start building new settlers’ homes in the northern province and Trinco.

    We KNOW USA, Norway and UN want a TWO STATE SOLUTION for SL and TE.

    Israel is USA’s good friend, but they scr*w their friends too. Don’t trust them and share power with Tamils.

    So act NOW.

    This is what happens when you share power with ethnic groups.

    Only fools learn from their own mistakes. Then it is too late.

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