Signalling more trouble for Sri Lanka, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has initiated a review of the UN’s actions regarding the implementation of its humanitarian and protection mandates during the Eelam War IV and its immediate aftermath, according to an online report of The Hindu on Sept. 27
The UN, on September 24, announced the appointment of Thoraya Obaid, former head of the UN Population Fund, to conduct the review. Ms. Obaid, the first Saudi national to head a U.N. agency when she was appointed as Executive Director to the Population Fund, is expected to commence work in October and is expected to complete her work in four months.
While Ms. Obaid’s mandate is to look at the conduct of UN and its personnel on the ground, experts here are of the opinion that the review could not be carried out without commenting on the war itself.
The UNSG’s three-member panel of experts on accountability issues, which went into the questions of human rights allegations during the war in Sri Lanka, and also the manner in which the United Nation functioned during the months leading to the end of the war, said there were credible reports that both government forces and the LTTE committed war crimes during the final months of the war. “The Secretary-General should conduct a comprehensive review of actions by the United Nations system during the war in Sri Lanka and the aftermath, regarding the implementation of its humanitarian and protection mandates,” the panel had recommended.
The panel had observed that during the final stages of the war, the United Nations political organs and bodies failed to take actions that might have protected civilians.
The move comes as Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa met Ban in New York, and a host of heads of nations to impress upon them his country’s point of view on the allegations of human rights excesses.
According to the UN, “Ban reiterated the need for such a process as envisaged in the joint statement he signed with Rajapaksa in May 2009, when the long-running conflict
between Government forces and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) ended.”