UN could have saved many more lives in Sri Lanka – Ban Ki-moon
September 2, 2016 03:38 pm
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon today said “very hard lessons” were learnt from the “serious mistakes” of the United Nations (UN) during the final stages of the war in Sri Lanka and that more lives could have been saved had the UN been more actively engaged.
He made these remarks at an event on “SDG16: Sustaining Peace – Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals” held in Colombo on Friday (2).
He stated that in the conflict’s decisive final stages, tens of thousands of civilians perished. The war was ended -- an unquestionable good for Sri Lanka, the region and the world. “But we also know that even in its ending, the price was high.”
He said that while Sri Lankans are deeply engaged in a process of reckoning and reconciliation, the United Nations has also engaged in self-scrutiny.
“Reports by expert, independent panels that I appointed found serious systemic problems on the part of Member States and Secretariat alike.” It seemed clear that the fog of war had obscured the centrality of human rights, he said.
Sri Lanka has taught us many important lessons, he added.
The United Nations during these seven decades and particularly during the critical important last several months “made big mistakes,” he said. “We learned very hard lessons.”
Ban said that on the part of the United Nations, he established internal investigations into what had happened, what the people in the UN mission in Colombo had been doing at the time.
“We found serious mistakes in activities. Had we been more actively engaged we could have saved many more human lives,” he said.
The UN chief said that is why they have launched in 2013 the human rights upfront initiative. He said that there are very important principals and values and ideals of the United Nations charter: which are peace and security, development and human rights.
“These are all interlinked. Nothing is more important than the others.”
“But I decided that in all of our operations and thinking and planning, the human rights aspect should be up fronted. When human rights are not respected, they are no longer human beings. We should be treated, we should be able to act as human,” he said, adding that it is very important.
But we are determined to ensure that human rights are where they belong: at the centre of our decision-making, the Secretary General said.
He commended Sri Lankans for examining the difficult period they have now begun to leave behind. “I am sure those efforts will continue to generate important lessons for the international community that can save many lives in many places.”