Statement of the Secretary-General on Internal Review Panel Report on Sri Lanka
New York, 14 November 2012
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. In 2010, following an agreement with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, I established a Panel of Experts to advise me on measures to advance accountability.
The Panel of Experts report 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 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.”
I, therefore, established a new Panel to do just that. The Panel, headed by Mr. Charles Petrie, has now completed its 8-month study. This morning
Mr. Petrie briefed me on the report’s findings and recommendations.
The report concludes 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.
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 Panel’s report recognizes initiatives we have 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.
As an immediate first step, I will organize a senior-level team to give careful consideration to the recommendations and advise me on a way forward. Other action will follow in short order.
As transparency and accountability are critical to the legitimacy and credibility of the United Nations, I also decided some days ago to make the report public.
From the beginning of my tenure as Secretary-General, I have been committed to strengthening the United Nations and its core mission of protecting people from harm. Events today in Syria are the latest reminder of just how crucial that work is.
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.
Statements on 14 November 2012
- Djibouti, 14 November 2012 - Secretary-General's message to Ministerial Meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation [delivered by Mr. Haile Menkerios, Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan]
- Brasilia, Brazil, 14 November 2012 - Secretary-General's video message to Inauguration of UN House in Brasilia
- , 14 November 2012 - Secretary-General's message to Fourteenth Annual Conference of HIgh Contracting Parties to Amended Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons [delivered by Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG)]
- , 14 November 2012 - Secretary-General's message to the opening of the 11th Session of the Assembly of States Parties of the International Criminal Court [delivered by UN Legal Counsel Patricia O’Brien]
- The Hague, Netherlands, 14 November 2012 - Secretary-General's video message on the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of the International Criminal Court
- New York, 14 November 2012 - Secretary-General's video message for "Climate Reality Project: The Dirty Weather Report" Webcast, 14-15 November
- Qatar, 14 November 2012 - Secretary-General's message to International Conference on Food Security in Drylands
- New York, 14 November 2012 - Secretary-General's message on World Diabetes Day
- New York, 14 November 2012 - Secretary-General's remarks at Memorial for Fallen Staff