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United Nations Week – 7/12/10

July 12, 2010

by John and Douglas Carey –

Outline for this issue: diplomatic warfare, UN style.

1)     Diplomatic warfare, how countries do it:

a)     Turkey has withdrawn its ambassador, halted joint military exercises, banned from its airspace Israeli military flights

b)    Israel has withdrawn military advisers from Turkey, warned against visits to Turkey, impounded the ships, refused compensation or apologies.

2)     UN style, involving Sri Lanka:

        a) issued 7/8/10 by his Spokesperson:

“The Secretary-General finds it unacceptable that the Sri Lankan authorities have failed to prevent the disruption of the normal functioning of the United Nations offices in Colombo as a result of unruly protests organized and led by a Cabinet Minister of the Government.

“In light of the evolving situation, he is recalling the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Neil Buhne, to New York for consultations.  He has also decided that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Centre in Colombo will be closed.

“The Secretary-General calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to live up to its responsibilities towards the United Nations as host country, so as to ensure continuation of the vital work of the Organization to assist the people of Sri Lanka without any further hindrance.” SG/SM/13005.

b) issued 7/9/10 by the Spokesperson:

“Following his decision yesterday to recall the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Colombo and close the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Centre in Colombo, the Secretary-General calls again upon the Government of Sri Lanka to take urgent action to normalize conditions around the United Nations offices in Colombo so as to ensure the continuation of the vital work of the Organization to assist the people of Sri Lanka.

“The Secretary-General believes the strong reaction to his establishment of a Panel of Experts on accountability in Sri Lanka is not warranted.  The United Nations has consistently held that this Panel has been set up to advise the Secretary-General with regard to taking forward the objectives of the Joint Statement of 23 May 2009.  These objectives include the further fostering of reconciliation and related issues, as well as reflecting the commitment by Sri Lanka to the promotion and protection of human rights and the importance of accountability in order to continue the strengthening of peace and development in that country.

“The United Nations recognizes that the responsibility in this regard is that of the Government of Sri Lanka.  The Panel itself will advise on the modalities, applicable international standards and comparative experience relevant to an accountability process.  It will be a resource available to assist the Government of Sri Lanka and the Commission on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation in applying the international best practice in this regard.” SG/SM/13006.


On Tuesday July 6th, Sri Lanka’s Housing Minister, Wimal Weerawansa, led a protest outside UN offices, trapping UN employees inside. Another sit-in began Wednesday but the UN people were able to keep on working in the office or from home. On Thursday Weerawansa started a hunger strike in front of the office, vowing to fast until Mr. Ban “gives assurances that he will not label the soldiers and political leaders who brought peace to Sri Lanka as war criminals.”

On May 18, 2009, 26 years of conflict had been officially ended with the death of the leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

On Friday the 9th, a joint statement was issued by the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Romania, Norway and the European Union. “Peaceful protest is part of any democracy, but blocking access to the United Nations . . . as well as intimidating and harassing UN personnel is a breach of international norms and harmful to Sri Lanka’s reputation in the world,” said these western countries.

Reuters quoted Weerawansa as declaring of his fast, “This fight will end ether in victory or death.” AFP reported on Saturday that the Govern-ment “regretted” that Mr. Ban had “acted in haste.” Three Sri Lankan Government Ministers told the press that, “Sri Lanka as an independent country has proved that human rights of every citizen has been protected to the maximum,” according to the country’s “Daily News” paper, which stated: “Several countries including China and Russia have exerted pressure on Ban Ki-moon to disband the special advisory panel appointed by him on his own accord.”

If Mr. Ban is to stand his ground, the western countries will need to win over a significant number of members of the Non-Aligned Movement, which has opposed his investigative panel. We will be following these developments and will hope a week hence to be able to report more favorable developments concerning Sri Lanka. Good-bye for now, and thanks for watching United Nations Week: News and Views, where your own view are always welcome, at

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