UN chief defends move on Sri Lanka

09:33, March 17, 2010      

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After facing protest from some corners of the world, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Tuesday defended his authority to establish an advisory body on human rights issues in Sri Lanka and said he will continue to press the matter.

"There will be no delay in the establishment of the panel," Ban told reporters during a press conference at the UN Headquarters in New York. "I am convinced that it is well within my power as secretary-general of the United Nations to ask such a body to furnish me with the advise of this nature."

"That the panel will furnish with me advise of such matters does not infringe on the sovereignty of Sri Lanka," he added.

Last week, the Chair of the Coordinating Bureau (CoB) of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) expressed his deep concern over Ban's decision to set up a panel of experts on accountability issues relating to Sri Lanka.

In his letter, Maged A. Abdelaziz, chairman of the CoB of the NAM, said the move interferes in the domestic matters of Sri Lanka, saying "there is nothing in the UN Charter that authorizes intervention in matters that are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state."

But Ban said the letter illustrated "some misunderstanding" about the nature and the purpose of the panel, which he will take up directly with NAM.

"This panel will report to me directly, not to any other body," said Ban.

After the final offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a joint UN-Sri Lankan statement last May outlined a series of steps the government would take to address allegations of war crimes, political reconciliation and the movement of internally displaced persons.

But Ban has said progress has been slow, which is why he wants to set up an advisory body.

Source: Xinhua
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