After the UN Human Rights Council approved a resolution on accountability in Sri Lanka Thursday morning with 24 in favor and 15 against, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s deputy spokesman Eduardo Del Buey if this would impact in any way Ban’s decision to say nothing about General Shavendra Silva becoming a UN adviser on peacekeeping. Video here, from Minute 7:09.
Del Buey repeated, "as we’ve said about General Silva, that is a matter for member states."
Inner City Press followed up that debate before the vote referred to Ban’s own Panel of Experts report in which Silva’s 58th Division is depicted engaged in war crimes.
Del Buey replied that "as Secretary General himself has told you, it was a member states decision."
But Ban, perhaps at some member states’ request, at times tells member states what he thinks. Why not here, when it seems he will have an alleged war criminal advising him?
"It was a member states decision and that’s all we have to say on that," Del Buey said. He also read out a canned statement that given the Panel of Experts assessment that allegation of violations of international human rights and and humanitarian law were credible, Ban shared the report with the Human Rights Council. He said the support of international community in help Sri Lanka is critical.
Inner City Press asked Del Buey for a copy of what he had read, but Del Buey said it was "for internal use only."
Back at the Security Council stakeout, Inner City Press asked UK Deputy Permanent Representative Philip Parham about the HRC decision, noting that the UK has taken some actions about accountability and Sri Lanka, even here in New York.
Parham said, "any step in enforcing the principle of accountability is a positive step."
When Shavendra Silva was told that his attendance at a Commonwealth reception with UK Foreign Secretary William J. Hague was "not appropriate," the reception was at Parham’s residence. In Silva’s place, Permanent Representative Palitha Kohona refused to go, instead sending the Sri Lankan Mission’s First Secretary, the same one who called and got UN Security to eject Inner City Press from the Senior Advisory Group meeting with Silva inside the UN rented building at 380 Madison Avenue. Watch this site.
From the UK Mission to the UN transcript:
Inner City Press: You may or may not answer this, maybe in your national capacity. In Geneva there was a vote this morning on the Sri Lanka resolution that passed 24 to 15 on accountability issues, which I know is something that the UK has spoken about and even taken some action in some ways here in New York. I know the UK is not a member of the Human Rights Council, but do you think it’s a positive step? Is there any UK response to that action in Geneva by the UN body?”
Amb. Philip Parham: Any step which enforces the principal of accountability is positive step.