ERASING THE EELAM VICTORY Part 25D2
Posted on January 9th, 2022

KAMALIKA PIERIS

Instead of keeping the UN as a skeleton organization servicing the needs of member states and acting as a meeting place for them, the western powers have piled more and more tasks on the UN system and then funded these activities, creating a great dependency on them to keep the system going.

The UN now depends on ten to 15 western countries for funds and these countries have turned this dependency to a handle to make the UN further their foreign policies, said analysts.  They use their money to make the UN system do as they wish. There is at least one document that admits that this distorts the priorities of the UN system.

While all member states in the UN rank equally in the UN, the money contribution to the UN varies. Some countries pay large amounts. The dominant country in the UN is at present the USA. It is the largest donor to the United Nations, contributing USD10 billion in 2018, slightly less than one-fifth of the total budget.

USA does not want a strong independent Secretary-General. Boutros Boutros Ghali, Secretary-General from 1992 to December 1996 was denied a second term due to a US veto. He had 14 of 15 votes. Ghali wrote a book where he gave an insider’s view of how the UN and it s Secretary-General were manipulated by the USA. He said US Secretary of State, Madeline Albright demolished Ghali’s authority in the UN and tarnished his image with a smiling face and expressing admiration.

 Sashi Tharoor ran for the post of Secretary-General in 2006 against Ban Ki Moon of South Korea. In the final round, Ban emerged as the only candidate not to be vetoed by the Security Council, while Tharoor received one veto from the United States. U.S. Ambassador was instructed by Secretary of State “We don’t want a strong Secretary-General.” Tharoor was a protégé of the independent minded Kofi Annan and the US was determined to have “No more Kofis.”

In order to retain their jobs the UN officials, starting from the UN Secretary General, have to please these donors. The Secretary General plays a subservient role to the big powers, but asserts his authority to the rest of the member states, said Thalif Deen.

The post of Secretary General is not as   powerful as people seem to think it is, he said. The Secretary General of the UN is not equal in rank to a Head of State. He is subservient to the Heads of state and ambassadors accredited to the UN, said Thalif Deen.   He is simply the CEO of the UN.

When told that the Secretary General had banned smoking in the UN building, Russia’s foreign minister Lavrov lit a cigarette and replied that this building does not belong to the Secretary General it belongs to the member states.  The Nigerian ambassador said the Secretary General is not my boss, I am his boss, reported Thalif Deen. 

Critics point out that the Secretary General of the UN cannot intervene in the internal affairs of   member countries. The UN Charter says that the UN shall not intervene in matters that  were within the domestic jurisdiction except upon a  Security Council finding that       there is a threat to peace, breach o peace or act of aggression.

It is the Security Council, not Secretary General that is granted powers of intervention under Chapter VII of the Charter.   This Chapter too, supports the right of a country to protect itself. Article 51 speaks of the inherent right of self-defense of a member state.

Article 100 of the UN Charter 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. But today, it  is difficult for the Secretary General to follow this, observed analysts.

 Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General showed an interest in  Eelam . In 1995,   he had had publicly expressed his concern for a potential humanitarian crisis in Jaffna, and the need for a relief operation. This resulted in a sharp reply from the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The government  was able to provide the humanitarian assistance needed, the Minister said, and made it clear that Sri Lanka  did not want a large UN presence, let alone direct UN intervention in the matter. The conflict was an internal affair, to be managed by the  Sri Lanka government .

However,  Bank Ki Moon visited Sri Lanka soon after the Eelam War IV ended and issue a joint statement with President Mahinda Rajapaksa .Rajiva Wijesinha and Dayan  Jayatilleka were concerned about the content of this statement. It seemed to allow for future criticism and interference.  Palitha Kohona has also been concerned, but Prasad Kariyawasam said it was ok, reported Rajiva Wijesinha.

thereafter, Ban Ki-moon  appointed a panel of experts to advise him on the issue of accountability with regard to any alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law during the final stages of the Sri Lankan Civil War.[1] The report, issue in 2011, is  known as Darusman Report.

The Secretary General’s action in appointing this  inquiry  is highly illegitimate and in fact illegal under the UN Charter, specifically, Articles 2(7), 99 and 100, said Darshan Weerasekera. The Darusman Report was not authorized or requested by the General Assembly, the Security Council, the HRC, or any other such body and the report has not been filed officially before these bodies.

Critics observed that the Secretary General would  not have taken this  step unless he was instructed to do so  .he was violating UN regulations. The  aim of this ‘inquiry’ was to legitimize the  accusations against Sri Lanka made by interested parties. This report would serve as the groundwork for the next phase. That phase is unlikely to be through the Security Council, because some of the Security Council members will not support it. So they will probably go thought the Human Rights Council in Geneva, predicted analysts.

Ban KI Moon  visited Sri Lanka again in  September 2016. He spoke of a ‘new union’ for Sri Lanka. But he dodged questions at the press meeting. He uttered platitudes and fled when the awkward question started coming in, reported Chandraprema.

The Darusman Report  had also pointed out that that   there was a need for the UN to review its actions in the Eelam War IV. UN had failed in its task of manipulating the Eelam war. Sri Lanka had won the Eelam war.

The International Resource Panel of the UN found a systemic failure” in the UN response during the final months of Sri Lanka’s conflict, evoking comparisons to UN failures in Rwanda in 1996 and Srebrenica in 1995.

UN Secretary-General then established an Internal Review Panel under Charles Petrie, to review UN actions in Sri Lanka during the final stages of the war in Sri Lanka and after. The Petrie report was asked to find out why the UN failed to stop the Eelam victory, why it failed to create the state of Eelam.

Petrie report said that the UN office in Colombo had insufficient political expertise and experience in armed conflicts, human rights and humanitarian law issues to deal with the extraordinary challenge” that Sri Lanka presented.

 UN action in Sri Lanka was not supported by Member states, said Petrie Report. In the absence of clear Security Council backing, the UN’s actions lacked adequate purpose and direction. Member States failed to provide the Secretariat and UN Country Team in Colombo with the necessary support.

Government of Sri Lanka did not trust the UN and there was friction between the government and the UN.  16 ICRC ships came to the conflict zone to take   people away from the conflict zone at the end of  Eelam War IV in 2009. The Government did not allow United Nations staff on the ships.

The UN’s relationship with the Government was difficult, said Petrie Report, due to the Government stratagem of UN intimidation.” Government of Sri Lanka had used visas to control UN staff critical of the government. The Government declared several Resident Coordinators persona non grata, or made them understand that their visas were at risk of being withdrawn, while also rejecting proposed replacements with previous experience in crisis situations.  The Government refused to give visas when UN tried to send in more staff to deal with the humanitarian aspect of the War, continued Petrie Report.

UN Office for the coordination of humanitarian operations (OCHA) asked for visa for a Britisher, Holdsworth, who was  to  report on matters which  came under the Competent Authority.  This visa was not recommended by the Ministry of Defence.  This Holdsworth was  an employee of the British government who had been released to OCHA.  The next Britisher recommended, was not in humanitarian assistance at all, but was experienced in conflict analysis, security and crisis management, said Rajiva Wijesinha.

In 1995 UNDP had to send back two medical doctors, from UN Volunteers, when the government refused permission for their radios which the UN Volunteers said were essential for their work in the north. The government had also formally complained when the director of UNESCO in Paris, on the basis of an MSF-France press release, condemned the death of schoolchildren in an air raid on the Jaffna peninsula.

Relations between the UN agencies and the government were never rosy. Government of Sri Lanka placed restrictions on UNHCR’s operations in LTTE-controlled areas, including on the passage of fuel and communications equipment.

The events in Sri Lanka highlight the urgent need for the UN to update its strategy for engagement with Member States in situations where civilian populations caught up in the midst of armed conflicts are not protected in accordance with international human rights and humanitarian law, said Petrie Report.

The Petrie report was presented to the Secretary General in November 2012, and led to a new policy within the UN called Rights-up-Front. In 2013, in direct response to the Petrie Report, the Secretary-General launched the Human Rights Up Front initiative. He issued a Human Rights Up Front Detailed Action Plan (updated March 2014). This called on the UN system to play a strong role to prevent human rights crises [1] and elevated the role of the Resident Coordinator from mere Head of UNDP to Head of UN operations in Sri Lanka. ( Continued)


[1] Guidance Note on HUMAN RIGHTSfor Resident Coordinators &UN Country Teams  https://unsdg.un.org/sites/default/files/UNDG-Guidance-Note-on-Human-Rights-for-RCs-and-UNCTs-final.pdf

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