UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, in a press briefing at the UN Headquarters on Thursday, said that the Internal Review Panel on UN Action in Sri Lanka had noted in its report authored by Charles Petrie, how UN Member States had failed to take action on Sri Lanka in 2009.
“When it comes to what happened in the last phase of the horrible conflict in Sri Lanka in 2009, I want to refer to reports that were made at that time and to Charles Petrie’s report. When he talked about systemic failure, he meant not only the Secretariat, but also Member States. There was a responsibility not least from the Security Council’s side. And we decided to accept those observations on the failures,” he said.
Eliasson said the UN has since seen as its major task to take the observations of the report very seriously and to take it one step further and draw lessons from Sri Lanka.
“Just the fact that you say “never again” and have done so a number of times shows that we have failed, we continue to fail. So actually, this is a pretty forward-looking… we haven’t spent more time than the earlier inquiries on what happened in Sri Lanka. We have said we accept those reports and then what can we do to make sure that we do it better if it happens again,” he added.
As part of the process to ensure there is no repeat of what happened in Sri Lanka the UN has setup a ‘Rights Up Front Action Plan’ to react more systematically when there are human rights violations that could risk turning into mass atrocities.