Dec 20, New York: The United Nations said Thursday that, after coming to the conclusion that the UN system had a systemic failure in Sri Lanka based on the Internal Review Panel (IRP) report, the organization had decided to show greater flexibility and come up with speedier action before human rights violations could turn into mass atrocities in nations with conflicts.
Deputy Secretary-General of UN Jan Eliasson addressing a press conference Thursday on the UN's Rights up Front Action Plan said atrocities committed in Srebrenica and in Rwanda where tens of thousands of people were killed and the failure of the system to prevent such atrocities in Sri Lanka during the final stage of the war had prompted the UN to put forward the initiative for a more systematic action.
"When the Secretary-General got the report from the Internal Review Panel on UN Action in Sri Lanka - where Charles Petrie was the main author of that report - he asked me to take this work forward with the intention of making a very serious effort to react more systematically when we see human rights violations that could risk turning into mass atrocities," Eliasson said.
When asked what UN is actually learning from its systemic failure in Sri Lanka and what the ongoing role of the UN in Sri Lanka is, the official said when the RIP report said systemic failure of UN system in Sri Lanka, it meant not only the Secretariat but also the Member States of the Security Council.
"There was a responsibility not least from the Security Council's side," the Deputy SG said. "We decided to accept those observations on the failures," he added.
He explained that the UN's major task was to take the observation very seriously and to take it one step further and draw lessons from Sri Lanka and also from Rwanda reports and military reports of the past so that the UN can be more concrete.
UN's major task now is to make a serious attempt to ensure that it sends a message to Member States that they now have to increase the level of attention on situations that will arise in the future.
"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?', the Deputy Secretary-General said.