“WAR CRIMES” IN EELAM WAR IV Part 9
Posted on October 17th, 2018

KAMALIKA PIERIS

The ‘war crimes’ of Eelam war IV have come under the purview of   the United Nations Human Rights Council  in Geneva, thanks to Resolution 30/1. It is therefore necessary to look at the scope and functions of the UN.  The United Nations is an organization set up to ensure world peace and nothing else. UN recognizes the sovereign equality of all its members and is explicitly prohibited from meddling in the internal affairs of its member states. (Articles 1.1 and 2.1)

UN Article 2.7 of the UN Charter says Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter”   .

UN Resolution A/RES/36/103 of 1981 Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention and Interference in the Internal Affairs of States    has many prohibitions which are relevant to the Eelam War. Here they are

  • no State has the right to intervene for any reason whatsoever in the internal or external affairs of any other State
  • States must refrain from any action in whatever form or under whatever pretext to destabilize or to undermine the stability of another State.
  • States must refrain from the promotion, encouragement or support, direct or indirect, of rebellious or secessionist activities within other States, under any pretext whatsoever, or any action which seeks to disrupt the unity or to undermine or subvert the political order of other States.
  • States must prevent on its territory the training, financing and recruitment of mercenaries, or the  sending of such mercenaries into the territory of another State
  • States must abstain from any defamatory campaign, vilification or hostile propaganda for the purpose of intervening or interfering in the internal affairs of other  States
  • States must  refrain from the exploitation   and the distortion of human rights issues as a means of interference in the internal affairs of States,
  • States have the right to combat, within their constitutional prerogatives, the dissemination of false or distorted news which can be interpreted as interference in the internal affairs of other.

Under the UN Charter, resolutions adopted by the General Assembly, including subsidiary bodies such as the Human Rights Council, are recommendations only and not legally binding on Member States. There are numerous resolutions which have never been implemented. The UN has never implemented the hundreds of resolutions on Occupied Palestine.

The UN Charter describes the Secretary-General of the UN as “chief administrative officer” of the Organization, who shall act in that capacity. Secretary-General is expected to bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security”. This shows that the role of the Secretary-General was directed mainly to matters of world peace, not internal matters of member states. In 1976 the Secretary General of UN was not regarded as equal to head of government, said Leelananda de Silva.

However, President Mahinda Rajapaksa permitted the UN to butt in as soon as Eelam War IV ended. He permitted UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to visit.     Moon arrived on 23.May 2009. He spoke with the President and senior officials. He also ‘consulted other relevant stakeholders, members of international humanitarian agencies and civil society.  The Secretary-General visited the internally displaced persons (IDP) sites at Vavuniya and overflew the conflict area, near Mullaitivu that was the scene of the conflict.’

The President and Secretary General then issued a joint statement. This statement   did not make any reference to the praiseworthy victory of the government of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka was not congratulated on it. Instead, the statement spoke, inter alia, of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.

Following is the joint statement by the Government of Sri Lanka and the United Nations at the conclusion of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s visit to Sri Lanka on 23 May:

  • At the invitation of Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, paid a visit to Sri Lanka.  During the course of his visit, he held talks with the President, Foreign Minister as well as other senior leaders of Sri Lanka.  During his stay, he also consulted other relevant stakeholders, members of international humanitarian agencies and civil society.  The Secretary-General visited the internally displaced persons (IDP) sites at Vavuniya and overflew the conflict area, near Mullaitivu that was the scene of the conflict.
  • President Rajapaksa and the Secretary-General agreed that addressing the aspirations and grievances of all communities and working towards a lasting political solution was fundamental to ensuring long-term socio-economic development.  The Secretary-General welcomed the assurance of the President of Sri Lanka contained in his statement in Parliament on 19 May 2009 that a national solution acceptable to all sections of people will be evolved.  President Rajapaksa expressed his firm resolve to proceed with the implementation of the 13th Amendment, as well as to begin a broader dialogue with all parties, including the Tamil parties in the new circumstances, to further enhance this process and to bring about lasting peace and development in Sri Lanka.
  • President Rajapaksa and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon agreed that following the end of operations against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Sri Lanka had entered a new post-conflict beginning.  In this context, the Government of Sri Lanka faced many immediate and long-term challenges relating to issues of relief, rehabilitation, resettlement and reconciliation.  While addressing these critical issues, it was agreed that the new situation offered opportunities for long-term development of the north and for re-establishing democratic institutions and electoral politics after 2 ½ decades.  The Government expressed its commitment to ensure the economic and political empowerment of the people of the north through its programmes.
  • The Secretary-General welcomed the assurance of the President of Sri Lanka contained in his statement in Parliament on 19 May 2009 that a national solution acceptable to all sections of people will be evolved.  The Secretary-General welcomed the announcement by the Government expressing its intention to dismantle the welfare villages at the earliest, as outlined in the Plan to resettle the bulk of IDPs and call for its early implementation.
  • President Rajapaksa informed the Secretary-General regarding ongoing initiatives relating to rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-combatants.  In addition to the ongoing work by the Office of the Commissioner General for Rehabilitation, a National Framework for the Integration of Ex-combatants into Civilian Life is under preparation, with the assistance of the United Nations and other international organizations.
  • Sri Lanka reiterated its strongest commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, in keeping with international human rights standards and Sri Lanka’s international obligations.  The Secretary-General underlined the importance of an accountability process for addressing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.  The Government will take measures to address those grievances.

Ban Ki Moon then returned to New York and appointed a three-member Panel of Experts to advise the   UN Secretary General on ‘the modalities, applicable international standards and comparative experience relevant to the fulfillment of the joint commitment to an accountability process having regard to the nature and scope of the alleged violations’. The   Panel would report directly to Secretary General. This Report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka” is also called the ‘Darusman report’ or ‘PoE report.

The Sri Lankan government reacted angrily to the appointment of this panel, calling it an unwarranted and unnecessary interference with a sovereign nation”. The Panel was not allowed to enter Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka government refused to allow them into the country and refused to talk to them.

The report was heavily criticized. Darusman report was not prepared on the directions of the UN, or the Security Council. It is not a UN report nor does it bear the stamp for the UN, said Gomin Dayasiri.  The Darusman Report cannot be called a UN report at all, said G.L.Pieris. It is a report compiled on the private initiative by the UN Secretary General and has no connection with the UN.

The Secretary General   exceeded his powers when he appointed the Darusman Panel, said critics. The UN Charter (article 100) says. “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”.

This means that the Secretary General      can only seek advice from those within the United Nations Organization. He is specifically barred from seeking advice from anyone outside the organization. The Darusman panelists do not come from within the UN. Their appointment is therefore a violation of the UN Charter.  The legitimacy of the Panel can be challenged on

Eelam War IV also came under the scrutiny of the  United Nations Human Rights Council. (UNHRC) . The United Nations Human Rights Council was established in 2006 by Resolution 60/251. This resolution declared, inter alia, that the UNHRC shall be responsible for promoting human rights without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equal manner. It must uphold the highest standards in the protection of human rights and its work shall be transparent, objective and non selective,   (Clause 4, 9, 12).

Outgoing United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in 2018, that there were increasing attacks on the notion of universal human rights. He had heard a UN official saying that there is really no such thing as universal human rights; they were picked from Western imagination.  Why is the Universal Declaration, and the whole body of human rights law that follow it, the object of so much attack now –- not only from the violent extremists,  but also from authoritarian leaders, populists, demagogues, cultural relativists, some Western academics, and even some UN officials, he asked.

Island editorial of 20. June 2018 observed, it looks as if the UNHRC had outlived its original purpose. The UN outfit is no longer a forum where human rights are championed and measures adopted to make this world a better place. Its members are driven by strategic interests and not any concern for human rights. Those who are dependent on the US and other western nations do the bidding of the latter when votes are cast. Others are influenced by the interests of the anti-western power bloc.

The West does not hesitate even to take on the UNHRC chiefs when its interests are threatened. In Geneva, the US and its allies, backed by human rights groups they fund, condemn the nations perceived to be hostile to the West while shielding notorious human rights violators who happen to be their allies. The anti-US bloc defends its friends regardless of their sordid human rights records, the island editorial concluded.

.Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told staff  that he would not bargain away his agency’s integrity when his job comes up for renewal in August 2017.  He rejected the idea of “wheeling and dealing” with political players to secure a second four-year term in Geneva. Hussein has reportedly been under pressure from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to tone down his human rights criticism of Washington. The United States remains the single biggest donor to UN coffers and Guterres has been keen to  maintain ties with the US administration.  ( Continued)

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