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Why the Ban Ki moon Advisory panel Report should not be Published - Prof.G.L.Peiris

by Ravi Ladduwahetty

The question of publishing the panel report authorized by the United Nations Secretary General does not arise since the UNSG, in appointing the panel, 'was motivated exclusively by a desire to gather information, and insights for his own views', External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris told the Daily News in an exclusive interview.

'Sri Lanka cannot be singled out for discriminatory treatment because this would be tantamount to cynical violation of the doctrine of sovereign equality of states, which is one of the core values embedded in the UN Charter. If this is allowed to happen, it would have distressing implications for the UN as well', the External Affairs Minister said.
The observations of the Minister:

The position of the Government of Sri Lanka on matters connected with the report submitted by the United Nations Secretary General's panel is very clear. This position has been articulated to the diplomatic corps in Colombo as well as to the local and international media.

We believe strongly that the publication of the report is basically wrong and contrary to the principles underpinning the United Nations Charter.

It must be remembered that the panel comprising three persons - Marzuki Dharusman, Yasmin Sooka and Stephen Ratner was never appointed by any United Nations organ, such as the United Nations Security Council.

The Secretary- General repeatedly assured the Government of Sri Lanka, both orally and in writing, that the panel that he was appointing was entirely of an advisory character. This was stated to us both orally and in writing.

Probe allegations

The Secretary-General maintained consistently that the sole purpose for which the panel which was appointed was to advise him on international best practices and process related issues.

He further stated categorically that the panel was not a fact finding body and not invested with an investigative role, specifically, he insisted that the panel will not have authority to probe allegations against any persons at all.

These assurances were given in explicit terms not only to the government of Sri Lanka but to other governments as well. It is therefore wrong for the panel to unilaterally convert it self from an advisory role to an investigative body. This is a total distortion of its mandate derived from the United Nations Secretary General.

It follows that the panel had no authority whatsoever to examine the allegations made in respect of the conduct of the war, or indeed in regard to any other matter, credible or not.
If the panel was to examine the evidence with the view to determining the credibility of the allegations, it is perfectly clear that it is performing an investigative function.

What is more, grave potential consequences could follow from findings of this nature which the panel purports to arrive at. This is entirely contrary to the principle and altogether unacceptable.

Two things are clear from what I have said so far:

The United Nations Secretary General, in appointing the panel, was motivated exclusively by a desire to gather further information and insights for his own views from a panel of persons in whom he reposed confidence. Since that is the case, the question of the publication of the report, does not arise.

The panel has clearly acted in ways beyond its mandate by refusing to confine itself to offering advise to the United Nations Secretary General and assuming for itself a function which involves the adjudication of a kind, suggestive of a quasi-judicial role. This was never contemplated as a part of its mandate.

It is indeed astonishing that the panel thought that it was deemed fit and proper to reach conclusions on a wide range of matters currently being examined by the Lessons Leant and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) appointed under the provisions of Sri Lankan Statue Law.

The appointment of the committee was universally acclaimed. Foreign governments expressed confidence in the Commission and conferred their good wishes and felicitations on the Commission's good work.

The Commission had held its sittings in not only in Colombo, but in the Northern and the Eastern Provinces and has already submitted a series of interim recommendations of the LLRC.

This committee is headed by the Attorney General and comprises Secretaries to seven ministries which are actively involved in the implementation of the recommendations.

In these circumstances, it is quite bizarre that the Secretary General's panel should take upon itself to treat the Sri Lankan statutory body as through it did not exist, to dismiss it in the most cavalier fashion imaginable and to formulate its won recommendations while the Sri Lankan Commission is continuing its work.

Representatives of western governments have had no difficulty in accepting that the position of the Government of Sri Lanka that they should await the publication of the report of the Sri Lankan Commission and assess it objectively and dispassionately.

When I recently visited a western capital, the representatives of the Government in question, clearly articulated this position and that no prejudgment was permissible.

However, the attitude of the panel has been the opposite. There has been absolutely no justification for the insensitivity and arrogance with which the Sri Lankan Commission has been ignored.

It is indeed our view that this approach is totally indefensible.

National reconciliation

International mechanisms are no means a substitute of local justifications which are engaged in deriving solutions in keeping with national culture, values and traditions.

It is indeed most distressing that the work of the panel, and the manner in which it has approached the task allotted to it present great obstacles to the central objectives of the Government of Sri Lanka in working towards national reconciliation in the post conflict phase. This is, without, question, the need of the hour.

The Government is trying with all its energy to engender an environment in which all communities who regard Sri Lanka as their home, are able to develop a concept of mature nationhood irrespective of any distinctions as to language, religion and cultural background.

It is much to be regretted that the panel, far from helping to accomplish this aim, has chosen to hinder the progress towards this goal by aggregating the tensions and accentuating divisions.

It is also unacceptable that the panel should take the liberty of traveling far beyond the mandate by seeking to offer the gratuitous advice to the Government of Sri Lanka on a cluster of issues relating to its internal, constitutional, legal and administrative structures

The functions attached to certain public offices, including that of the Attorney General and other matters, which are indisputably the matters of domestic policy to be determined by the Government and the people of Sri Lanka.

It is for these reasons that the Government has declared its opposition to the publication of this report and to any form of action intended to give effect to the findings and recommendations contained in the report.

This report consists of advise given to the Secretary General by his nominees. This is a matter between the Secretary General and his advisors.

If this document is published, it would constitute a very unsound and indeed dangerous precedent.

United Nations system

It would also mean that any advise given to the Secretary General of any other official within the United Nations system in the contexts of the fiduciary relationships can be published as a result of the pressures exerted by third parties.

This represents nothing less than a complete subversion of the proper procedures within the United Nations system.

What is sought to be done in respect of Sri Lanka, on this occasion, will have to be done in future in other situations as well.

Sri Lanka cannot be singled out for discriminatory treatment because this would tantamount to cynical violation of the doctrine of sovereign equality of states, which is one of the core values embedded in the United Nations Charter.

If this is allowed to happen, it would have distressing implications for the United Nations as well. ~ courtesy: Daily News ~


Instead of facing Ban Kee Moon's panel's request by giving answers on behalf of GOSL for questions raised in the report, just muddying the situation by giving his views to the media GLP is not going to bring peace and reconcilliation. Lakshman Kadirgamar did a superior job by less talk and more action in the 1990s. But Lakashman was FM under the moderate Chandrika. Without the West's and India's supports to Kadigamar and Chandrika,GOSL could not have taken this advatnages postion after the war.

If SL does not respect UN at this juncture Indian subcontinent will have to face medium to long term consequences of turmoil and new colonialism.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2011 10:22 AM

The pannel was established by the UNSG about 7 months ago and why did'nt this expert local big mouth shout at that time and why did the Govt allow Weerawansa to fast util some one tell him not to do at that time instead just tell UN SC that the panel is not worthy

Posted by: Victoria | April 25, 2011 12:33 PM

Why Srilanka is so much against this investigation?

What are they hiding? afraid of?


Posted by: aratai | April 25, 2011 03:18 PM

Mr. G.L peries,
Okay fine and dandy, we accept your arguments. Can you give an answer to my question. There are 150,000 people missing, where are they? You were not in the battle front, what ever answwer you give will be what others said. Only way to find out is to investigate.
By the way you can argue all you want to argue,people do not go by what you talk, they go by how they feel. it is gut feeling.
If you think the world is naive and ignorant you will find out soon.

Mr.Peries it is all over, hand over your buddies to the ICC.
We want Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brother. Nothing else is satisfactory.This demand is non negotiable and unbargainable

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2011 05:17 PM

All those reasons are bogus.
It is pathetic to see all these so called educated people who white wash a crime of humanity.

When you kill a lot of your own people, you must answer, No impunity at all.

Clearly the crimes against humanity is committed, if not the perpetrators are punished, we will see lot of dictators follow the suit.

So called sovereignty is used as a bogus defence to commit massive crime and to get away with it. That should be stopped at any cost.

Posted by: Dave | April 25, 2011 08:50 PM

"Why the Ban Ki moon Advisory panel Report should not be Published - Prof.G.L.Peiris"

Sorry Professor. What should we do next?

Should we spin it more and deny all the allegations or accept all the mistakes and try to fix fundamentally wrong ethnic issues in Sri Lanka?

I'm a high school dropout. I prefer the 2nd option. How about you all big fellas?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2011 10:58 PM

Now that it has been published we can understand the sentiments of GLP and the writer. I too would like to hide my face in shame.

Posted by: SriLankan | April 26, 2011 05:46 AM

Peiris’s argument is like a thief telling others, why he should not be caught and hanged in public, similar to Police should look after the individual. Has Peries forgotten that “UN” is not to support mongrel states but to protect the humanity, even though they were slow in coming after the murderous regime of SL, because of two other powerful human right violators (China and Russia) are trying to see, what they can rob from this thief (SL) before handing SL to police!

Posted by: sen | April 26, 2011 06:30 AM

If some country nukes Hambantota and claims its upto Sri lanka to pass judegment, will Peiris keep quiet?

In fact, thats what had happened to eelam nation where sri lanka carpet bombed eelam nation and says, its upto sri lanka to pass judgement.

Does Periris have conscience to deny satellite imagery of SL armed forces shelling hospitals, no-fly zone declared by SL where it asked Tamils to escape to.

Posted by: anand | April 26, 2011 06:12 PM

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