UN Security Council refuses to discuss killing in Sri Lanka

May 12th, 2009 - 3:26 am ICT by IANS  

New York, May 12 (DPA) Top diplomats from Britain and France were rebuffed Monday when some UN Security Council members refused their request to discuss the fighting in Sri Lanka, which killed more than 400 people during the past weekend.
The council members that opposed taking up the issue were not named publicly.

Foreign Ministers David Miliband of Britain and Bernard Kouchner of France were also joined by Austria’s Michael Spindelegger, the federal minister for European and international affairs, to protest inaction by the 15-nation council at UN headquarters in New York.

“We are more than shocked, we cannot support the way in this particular place while people are suffering and dying,” Kouchner told reporters, showing his indignation.

When asked which council members opposed their request, Miliband said, “We can only speak for ourselves. Others can speak for themselves.”

“We are clear, this is an issue that the UN Security Council should address, it involves major civilian loss of lives and distress,” Miliband said. “It does have ramifications for the region. We as European members of the UN Security Council, we believe that the issues belong here.”

Both Miliband and Kouchner said they were ready to tell council members “what they have seen” in Sri Lanka, but apparently they were not allowed to.

As a rule and unless a crisis is already on the council’s agenda, a majority of nine council members have to approve a new issue be put on the agenda of discussion. Some council members have opposed discussion over matters they consider domestic matters.

China in the past opposed discussion of Myanmar’s political crisis and Russia opposed discussion of Chechnya, where armed opposition was fighting Russian troops for independence.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Monday urged warring parties in Sri Lanka to respect international humanitarian efforts protecting

civilians following reports of the weekend massacre of over 400 civilians.

“Thousands of Sri Lankans have already died in the past several months due to the conflict, and more still remain in grave danger,” Ban said, adding that he was appalled at the killing.

“The reckless disrespect shown by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for the safety of civilians has led to thousands of people remaining trapped in the area,” Ban said.

In Colombo, the UN said more than 400 people were killed and more than 1,200 injured in the fighting over the weekend and the government and rebels accused each other of the killing in a narrow land strip near the coast of the Mullaitivu district, 395 km northeast of the capital.

“We can call it a bloodbath,” UN spokesman in Colombo Gordon Weiss told DPA.

He explained that although he had no confirmation of who was responsible for the killings, both parties were responsible for the well-being of civilians caught in the conflict.

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