by Ravi LadduwahettiThe attempt by Chairperson of the UN Special Advisory Panel on Peace Keeping Operations Louise Frechette early this year to bar Sri Lanka’s deputy permanent representative Major General Shavendra Silva from the panel has been roundly condemned by the Asia-Pacific group of countries this week in strongest possible terms.
According to a top source in New York the 54 countries in the group who nominated Gen. Silva to the panel condemned her action as high handed, arrogant and racist when they met at the UN on Tuesday.
The Asia-Pacific Group at its monthly meeting had noted that her action had exceeded her authority. No chairperson of a panel had the authority to decide who is going to participate on behalf of Asia-Pacific Group. That was determined by the Group and not by the Chairperson, he said.
The Group had also said that her action had directly challenged the dignity of Asia-Pacific and that of Sri Lanka.
Among the countries that had spearheaded the countermanding of Frechette had been China, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, The Island learns.
Ms. Frechette who has a shady past having been forced to quit the UN in 2005 as its Deputy Secretary General for her role in the Iraq Oil for Food scandal, on February 22 literally humiliated Gen. Silva in public by telling him that his participation in the panel was "inappropriate" and advised him to keep away from all its "deliberations".
The Independent Inquiry Committee that probed the Iraq Oil for Food scandal headed by former US Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker found that she had intervened directly by phone to bar UN auditors from forwarding their investigations into the scam to the Security Council.
Gen Silva, however ignored her and continued to attend panel sittings and she had to shut up and put up with his participation
This action by former top Canadian diplomat came in the wake of a chorus of protests over the inclusion of the former commander of Sri Lanka’s 58 division in the special panel, especially in view of the questionable findings of the controversial outside panel appointed by UN Secretary General to advise him on the last phase of the war against the LTTE
Despite her shady past Frechette was handpicked by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to chair the special committee.
The Special Advisory Panel was constituted to consider rates of reimbursement to troop contributing countries and other related issues such as maintaining peace keeping missions.It has ten members of which five are nominated by the UN secretary-general and five nominated by regional groups.
Regional nominees to the Special panel were made through recommendations by respective groups of countries representing different regions. Shavendra Silva was appointed to the panel as the representative of the Asia – Pacific regional group.
Shavendra Silva who was a brigadier when the war ended was subsequently promoted as Major –General because of his exceptional performance in the battle field. He was later appointed deputy permanent representative to Sri Lanka’s UN mission in New York and given ambassadorial rank.
When so-called human rights organizations beholden to western interests raised the issue the UN secretariat said it could do nothing about Silva’s appointment as it had been decided by member countries.
When representations were made to Ban Ki Moon the Secy –Gen explained that the choice was not his and that the country group had appointed him.
In a not so surprising move UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navaneetham Pillai wrote to Ban Ki Moon officially expressing concerns about Shavendra Silva’s appointment.
Louise Frechette also issued a press release in this regard. It said: "In its Resolution 65/289, the General Assembly asked the Secretary-General to establish a Senior Advisory Group (SAG) to consider rates of reimbursement to troop contributing countries and other related issues.
"Following careful consideration and consultation with other SAG members, the Chair, Louise Fréchette, has advised Major General Shavendra Silva of Sri Lanka, that his participation is not appropriate or helpful for the purposes of this Group. He will not participate in its deliberations."
Late in the afternoon of February 23, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative Palitha Kohona too has gone on record stating, that "Frechette is outside her mandate and has no authority" to bar Silva.