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* UN chief admits agency's failures in Sri Lanka to protect civilians
Thu, Nov 15, 2012, 01:03 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Nov 14, New York: The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon today said that an Internal Review Panel appointed to review the agency's actions during the final stages of Sri Lanka's war that ended in May 2009 has concluded that the UN system failed to meet its responsibilities.

Issuing a statement the Secretary-General admitted that the United Nations system failed to meet its responsibilities - highlighting, in particular, the roles played by the Secretariat, the agencies and programmes of the UN Country Team, and the members of the Security Council and Human Rights Council.

Mr. Ban said he is determined to draw appropriate lessons from the report of the Internal Review Panel chaired by Charles Petrie and conducted an 8-month investigation.

"This finding has profound implications for our work across the world, and I am determined that the United Nations draws the appropriate lessons and does its utmost to earn the confidence of the world's people, especially those caught in conflict who look to the Organization for help," the Secretary-General said in his statement.

Explaining his initiative set up an Internal Review Panel, Mr. Ban said the conduct of the final months of the war in Sri Lanka in 2009 generated profound concerns about alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

Following an agreement with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the UN Chief in 2010 has established a Panel of Experts to advise him on measures to advance accountability.

The Panel of Experts report has raised a number of significant issues, including those regarding the United Nations response to the terrible situation facing civilians in the north of Sri Lanka.

The Panel has recommended "a comprehensive review of action by the United Nations system during the war in Sri Lanka and the aftermath, regarding the implementation of its humanitarian and protection mandates."

The recommendations by the Panel of Experts led to the appointment of the Internal Review Panel.

The UN Secretary-General said the Panel's report recognizes initiatives the agency has taken in the wake of the events in Sri Lanka to prevent a similar breakdown.

"However, I am fully committed to ensuring that we do much more," He said.

As an immediate first step, the UN Chief said he will organize a senior-level team to give careful consideration to the recommendations and advise him on a way forward. Other actions are to follow in short order.

The UN chief said he has decided to make the Panel's report public as transparency and accountability are critical to the legitimacy and credibility of the United Nations.

The Secretary-General said he is committed to strengthening the UN and its core mission of protecting people from harm.

"Our obligation to all humanity is to overcome our setbacks, learn from our mistakes, strengthen our responses, and act meaningfully and effectively for the future. These principles and objectives drove me to establish the Panel and they will guide us as we take forward its outcomes," Mr. Ban said.

Secretary-General's Spokesperson Martin Nesirky said there would be a senior-level briefing on the report on Thursday for questions on the on the report.

He said the composition of a senior-level team the Secretary-General will appoint is yet to be decided.



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