Sri Lanka yesterday said that the UN and other humanitarian agencies must respect the role of governments and support those governments to protect their own civilians, which is the primary responsibility.
Speaking at the UN Security Council meeting in New York yesterday, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN Dr. Palitha Kohona said, “…there was a need to recognize the fundamental role of the State in civilian protection and the role of governments should be respected, because it was their primary responsibility to protect their own civilians. The United Nations and other humanitarian agencies must support and assist governments in doing so, while remaining sensitive to realities on the ground, including respect for sovereignty.”
He also said the challenges posed by terrorism in many parts of the world might necessitate a “re-evaluation of the rules of military engagement." "Whereas many of those rules were based on the presumption that the parties to a conflict were conventional armies of responsible States and other State parties, terrorists disregarded those laws and principles as they waged “asymmetric warfare,” he added.
“Sri Lanka had faced a brutal terrorist threat for more than two and a half decades, and therefore saw an overarching need to achieve more “tangible differences” for communities most affected by conflict, especially in enhancing protection on the ground. That protection task could not be understood and addressed solely within the traditional framework, he said, emphasizing that today’s threats required a consciousness of multiple different factors, including political and socio-economic realities, basic individual rights, the proliferation of small arms, asymmetric welfare and the sophistication of terrorists, among others.
Sri Lanka had taken the “utmost care” to draw a clear distinction between civilians and terrorists, he stressed. Successive Governments had ensured a continuous supply of essential goods and services to Tamil civilians, despite the control that the terrorists had exerted over them. While allegations of infractions had emerged after the end of the conflict, they had not been heard until the end had become “abundantly clear” to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), he said, adding that it was then that a “well-oiled propaganda machine” had begun to churn out allegations to set the stage for a continuation of the conflict by other means.
Moreover, he said, LTTE had made the Tamil civilian population a part of its military strategy by forcing them to undergo weapons training and to take up arms, by recruiting children for combat duties and by herding thousands of civilians to form human shields while being held hostage.
Meanwhile, addressing the meeting Ivan Šimonović, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights New York Office, delivered a statement on behalf of High Commissioner Navi Pillay said that “to aid victims and advance long-term reconciliation in Sri Lanka, he urged that country’s Government to implement the recommendations of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts, which had concluded that Government forces as well as fighters of the LTTE had seriously violated international law in the final stage of the country’s decades-long civil conflict.
Furthermore, in defining a new mandate for Southern Sudan, the Council should take into account detailed information on the human rights situation there, and include robust language on human rights protection and promotion.
A different tune is being played now. The music player is now in random mode.
Kapila Wednesday, 11 May 2011 06:46 AM
Sri Lanka has lost it respect in all aspects because of how it handled the war. Imprisoning a war hero who lead us to victory is the biggest shame of all. The world belives that we reward heros by putting them to jail.
Randy Wednesday, 11 May 2011 07:11 AM
Well Said Mr. Kohona.
CP Wednesday, 11 May 2011 03:20 PM
international community respected govt because it eradicated terrorism. but IC would not respect the way it was conducted... this is the reason many previous govts did not dare to do it .. they know it will lead huge destruction on civilians..it is a known truth!
Ameer Wednesday, 11 May 2011 04:02 PM
Well said Mr. Kohona, we are Sri Lankans, we dont need to bow down our head to anyone. We are with you president. Just don't bow down to international pressure.
wijesinghe Thursday, 12 May 2011 12:54 AM
Well said Mr Kohana terrorism and Justice won't come together.
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