As Silva Barred from Advising UN, Kohona Says Frechette Had "No Authority"
Twenty seven days ago Inner City Press began asking the UN and then various countries’ missions to the UN how they could accept as a member of the UN "Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations" General Shavendra Silva, whose Division 58 is repeatedly named in connection with war crimes in Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s Panel of Experts report on Sri Lanka.
Then, on the afternoon of February 22 Silva was told by the Group’s chair Louise Frechette that his participation is "not appropriate." While much reported, few noted the inaction and refusal to speak of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his head of Peacekeeping, Herve Ladsous, which continued even after Silva was barred.
At the UN’s noon briefing on February 23, Inner City Press asked Ban’s deputy spokesman Eduardo Del Buey if at least Ban had any comment on Silva and his barring, and whether Ban supports the decision of Louise Frechette.
Del Buey said, "the advice continues to be it is a member state decision." He said that Ban has "taken note" of the development, but it’s a member state decision. Video here, from Minute 5:09.
Now as Inner City Press predicted, Sri Lanka is using Ban’s passivity, which stands in contrast to, for example, his comments on the decisions of the "member states" on the Security Council.
Several Permanent Representatives of members of the Asia Group, where Sri Lanka got the SAG post after encouraging Saudi Arabia, Nepal and Fiji to drop out, told Inner City Press that Sri Lanka had written to them about Frechette’s decision. "It’s their side of the story," one of the representatives said.
Late in the afternoon of February 23, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative Palitha Kohona told Inner City Press, on the record, that "Frechette is outside mandate and has no authority" to bar Silva.
Inner City Press asked why, then, Silva had said not a word during the more than two hour meeting. He was under instructions, Kohona said.
Another Asia Group Deputy Permanent Representative told Inner City Press the Group will be ill-represented on the Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations, to which Asia countries are major troop contributors, if its representative can’t speak, or "is a distraction."
Kohona maintains that Silva will represent the Asia Group, despite what other Asia Group representatives have said, some on the record and some on background.
The representative of a major Western member of the Security Council marveled to Inner City Press about the tenaciousness of Sri Lankan diplomacy, saying it sprung from "rear guard lobbying for more than twenty years."
Another told Inner City Press that Sri Lanka had been trying to "make a trade" of pulling Silva back in exchange for changed positions at the upcoming Human Rights Council session in Geneva. "That’s unacceptable," the representative said. We’ll see.
Kohona spoke Thursday afternoon on Sexual Violence in Conflict, praising the UN envoy on the topic, Margot Wallstrom. Only five hours earlier, when Wallstrom came to the stakeout, Inner City Press asked what she thought of Silva as an adviser, and what had to date happened. Video here, from Minute 6:19.
Wallstrom said there "should be consequences" for "atrocities," and that "I understand that this is what has happened, that he has now been banned from this group. Exactly how that has happened, I do not have all the detailed information…. I think that was probably the right thing to do… I think it is important to make statements and clearly position yourself on these issues."
Kohona back to camera, Silva shakes Ban, "member states made me do it" (c) MRLee
Watch this site. Already, a Sri Lankan diplomat has complained to Inner City Press, by what right does Fechette point the finger given her role in the UN Oil for Food scandal? Forthe record, Frechette intervened directly by phone to bar UN auditors from forwarding their investigations to the Security Council, as detailed on page 186 of the 219-page interim report Paul Volcker’s Independent Inquiry Committee released February 3, 2005….
Footnote: Earlier in the Silva process, Inner City Press asked High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay about Silva, and get her on camera to say she was concerned, and had written to Ban Ki-moon.
Quickly, some who had done no work on the issues tried to grab it, to save face. But even then Human Rights Watch argued that it was not Ban Ki-moon’s fault.
We disagree: Sri Lanka only had the hutzpa to submit Silva because Ban had shown himself so weak, had in a closed door meet with Mahinda Rajapaksa berated his own staff, as exclusively reported by Inner City Press.