|'Blame Russia and China for Sri Lanka failure, not UN's Ban'-Channel 4|
|Written by Lobby for Peace|
|Tuesday, 26 April 2011 21:01|
Ban Ki-Moon has come under attack for failing to push for a war crimes probe in Sri Lanka. But a former UN Deputy Secretary-General tells Channel 4 News Ban is powerless to defy Russia and China.
A former senior UN official has defended Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon after critics accused the UN chief of failing to take on China and Russia in pushing for a war crimes investigation in Sri Lanka.
A 200-page report commissioned by Ban concluded that up to 40,000 civilians may have died in the final act of the Sri Lankan government's war against the Tamil Tiger rebels. The report accuses the government of widespread shelling including targeting field hospitals, as well as other violations of human rights.
"It's clear that for any Secretary-General facing re-election, he is walking in a political minefield." John J Metzler
Three months after the conflict, Channel 4 News broadcast footage apparently showing government troops summarily executing Tamils.
Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa has urged supporters to rally on May Day against which the report, which the government says is based on false accusations from human rights groups and pro-Tiger members of the Tamil diaspora.
Ban said an international investigation would need the co-operation of the Sri Lankan government - something it has already rejected - or a Security Council referral likely to be vetoed by China and Russia.
Last week Ban appeared to call for Russia to support his expected bid for a potential second term in the top UN post after the end of this year, telling President Dmitry Medvedev: "I'd like to really count on your strong support, leadership and guidance in continuing my work as Secretary-General."
A spokesman for Ban later denied he was asking for personal support, saying: "What he was asking for was Russia's support for the full range of United Nations work on major topics."
The former South Korean foreign minister has not publicly declared his candidacy for the election, but diplomats say he has made his intentions to seek re-election clear in private, and the United States and other key Security Council members have given preliminary pledges of support for a second five-year term.
John J Metzler, a veteran UN correspondent and lecturer in Asian Studies at St John's University in New York, told Channel 4 News: "I believe he clearly seeks re-election, and he's certainly within his rights to do such.
"He must balance the interests of the five permanent members of the Security Council. He must tread very, very carefully when it comes to humanitarian issues.
"It's clear that for any Secretary-General facing re-election, he is walking in a political minefield, especially with issues like human rights violations. Many of these kinds of governments are going to say: 'We are a sovereign state. We didn't invite you to come here.'
"Ban Ki Moon has been a very active and positive force in keeping humanitarian pipelines open in Haiti or Pakistan after the floods. When it comes to something as sharp and upfront as Sri Lanka or Darfur...then they back away and they become political and they become very, very cautious."
"It's hard for a Secretary-General to prevail when he is in the middle of a field with elephants trampling around." Mark Malloch Brown
Mr Malloch Brown said the issue highlighted a "new cold war of ideas" with Western liberal democracies calling for greater respect for the rights of minorities clashing with powers like Russia and China, which reject greater international scrutiny an affront to national sovereignty.
He said: "It is too much of an apparent war crime to go uninvestigated. But if he doesn't have the support of the international community and if the Sri Lankans continue to not just stonewall but to actively campaign against him in the UN it would be in practical terms almost impossible to complete any inquiry.
25 August 2009 Jonathan Miller
07 January 2010 Channel 4 News
02 February 2010 Channel 4 News
11 September 2009
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 31 May 2011 14:45|