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On Sri Lanka, As UK Disagrees With NAM Letter, IMF, Pascoe and Panel After Election?

[Inner City Press, Saturday, 20 March 2010 10:13 No Comment]

Ten days after Sri Lanka got a Non Aligned Movement letter submitted to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon telling him he has no jurisdiction to seek advise on accountability for war crimes in Sri Lanka, the UK Permanent Representative to the UN Mark Lyall Grant told the Press his country disagrees with NAM’s argument.

Outside the Security Council chamber, Inner City Press asked Ambassador Lyall Grant about NAM’s letter, and war crimes in Sri Lanka. The Secretary General, Ambassador Lyall Grant said, "does have a mandate through the UN charter to uphold human rights and humanitarian international law, and therefore he is entirely within his rights to set up a group of experts who will advise him on taking forward his concerns about some of the allegations that have been made in the recent months in Sri Lanka."

As such, he said, the UK "would disagree with the Non-Aligned Movement, who are arguing that he is acting beyond his mandate."  Video here, from Minute 2:49.

Since the UK at the UN has had little at least publicly to say about Sri Lanka of late, Inner City Press asked Ambassador Lyall Grant what the UK thinks should happen. He replied that the UK "want[s] to see an end to impunity, that we want to see allegations of war crimes, human rights violations, human rights abuses, thoroughly investigated."

Also on the NAM letter, Inner City Press on March 19 asked the spokesman for this year’s President of the UN General Assembly, Libya’s Ali Treki, if he supports or opposes NAM’s arguments. You have to ask the Secretary General, was the reply, or NAM or Sri Lanka. But the Sri Lankan mission declined to even give a copy of the NAM letter to the press.

UK's Lyall Grant and PGA Ali Treki, NAM letter on Sri Lanka not shown

UK’s Lyall Grant and PGA Ali Treki, NAM letter on Sri Lanka not shown

Separately, Inner City Press asked a senior UN official about his involvement in the UN’s decision not to send any personnel to Sri Lanka before the Presidential election, to try to safeguard minimal fairness.

While publicly UN spokespeople said the UN could not act without a General Assembly vote or mandate, this official confided that the UN had offered the Sri Lankan electoral official to send a team of five to ten experts. But this offer was turned down.

On the financial front, Inner City Press asked the International Monetary Fund on March 18 about the status of the third tranche of the IMF’s credit facility to Sri Lanka. IMF spokesperson Yoshiko Kamata told Inner City Press in reply that IMF "staff will visit Colombo after the parliamentary elections and the formation of the new cabinet, to discuss with the government its plan for a 2010 budget."

The long-promised visit of the UN’s political envoy Lynn Pascoe appears to have been pushed back to after the election. Some now say that, following the NAM letter to which Ban has yet to formally response, he is spending more time on "terms of reference" and membership of the announced Sri Lanka panel than he did on his panel on the killing of 150 civilians in Guinea — specifically so the timing extends until after the elections. What was that again, about "no delay"? Watch this site.

March 19, ’10 stakeout, transcribed by Group of Friends on ICP

Inner City Press: The SG said he would name a panel  to advise him on Sri Lanka human rights and the NAM complained and said he doesn’t have the right to intervene on human rights issues not on the Council’s agenda. What does the UK think? Is he within his rights?

Ambassador Lyall Grant: Well, we believe that the Secretary-General does have a mandate through the UN charter to uphold human rights and humanitarian international law, and therefore he is entirely within his rights to set up a group of experts who will advise him on taking forward his concerns about some of the allegations that have been made in the recent months in Sri Lanka. So we would disagree with the Non-Aligned Movement, who are arguing that he is acting beyond his mandate.

Inner City Press: Does the UK have concerns about conduct on both sides?

Ambassador Lyall Grant: Well, we have made it very clear that we always want to see an end to impunity, that we want to see allegations of war crimes, human rights violations, human rights abuses, thoroughly investigated.

[Full Coverage]

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