Conflict & Justice

UN report concludes that it 'failed to protect Sri Lankans' in civil war


Families of Sri Lankan disabled soldiers express their solidarity with the government during a demonstration in Colombo on March 22, 2012. Protestors were against a US sponsored resolution at the UN Human Rights Council that urged credible probe against alleged violations during the final days of the war against Tamil Tiger separatists in 2009. The US-led resolution was adopted with 24 votes in favour, 15 against and eight abstentions.



A UN internal probe has found that organization failed to protect Sri Lankans near the end of their civil war. 

"Events in Sri Lanka mark a grave failure of the UN," a leaked draft of the investigation said, adding that the United Nations should "be able to meet a much higher standard in fulfilling its protection and humanitarian responsibilities," Agence France Presse reported

Sri Lanka's bloody civil war went on 25 years and left at least 70,000 dead and hundreds of thousands displaced, with an estimated 40,000 people being killed in the final five months of the conflict, which ended in 2009, the Huffington Post reported

Among the shortcomings highlighted by the report were the UN's failure to publicize the mounting toll of civilian deaths that were largely caused by government violence, AFP reported. 

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The probe also criticized the UN's pulling of its staff from Sri Lankan war zones in September 2008, when the government claimed it could "no longer guarantee their safety." 

John Holmes, the former humanitarian chief for the UN, has been critical of the report, saying that the world body should not be criticized for its actions in Sri Lanka where they faced "some very difficult dilemmas," BBC News reported

"The idea that if we behaved differently, the Sri Lankan government would have behaved differently I think is not one that is easy to reconcile with the reality at the time," Holmes told BBC World News Hour. 

The UN said it would not comment on drafts of its reports, and plans to release the final version once Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon had reviewed it, according to the Independent

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