UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations, in New York on Good Global Solutions, Cooperation in National Interest of Member States, on 9 October said “With respect to Sri Lanka, a review of UN action at the end of the civil war in 2009 noted a “systemic failure” of the different parts of the UN. Member States did not meet the tasks they themselves had set. The UN system did not adapt properly when the final brutal stage of the conflict called for a broader UN presence, which up to that point in Sri Lanka had been focused on development.”
A main lesson we are to draw from this experience is to ensure that the UN system has political and human rights expertise and resources in place when and where they are needed. Equally important is to recognize that human rights violations are our best early warning signals in emerging crises and, of course, that we must act on such signals and speak out about what we see. On behalf of the Secretary-General, I have led this internal scrutiny. There is important work here for the UN and its Member States.
Eliasson noted that the UN did not have the resources in Sri Lanka to monitor and report back to the UN Security Council during the war.