U.N. Security Council Issues Unanimous Statement on Sri Lanka

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Thursday, May 14th, 2009
Dr. Bernard Kouchner

French Foreign Minister Dr. Bernard Kouchner in Debate at the Security Council on May 11.

The United Nations Security Council yesterday issued a hard hitting statement (SC/9659) demanding that the government and the LTTE abide by international humanitarian law, and insisting that the LTTE lay down its arms and allow civilians under its deadly grip to escape to safety.

In an unexpected move, Sri Lanka's defenders in the Security Council, including Russia, China and Japan, supported the statement, the Council's first pertaining to the crisis in the north of the island. 

The Security Council members also expressed "deep concern" over the reports of government shelling and bombing of areas packed with Sri Lankan civilians, and said they "expect the Government of Sri Lanka to fulfil its commitment" to cease the use of heavy weaponry on its own citizens. 

Acknowledging the government's "legitimate right to combat terrorism", the Security Council members nevertheless called upon Sri Lanka to "cooperate with the United Nations, the ICRC and other humanitarian organisations in providing humanitarian relief" to civilians as they flee the conflict zone. 

The UN body also unanimously underlined the need for a political solution to the country's ethnic question, which it termed as a "long-term solution without the threat of violence" underlining that "the needs of all communities in Sri Lanka have to be addressed."

Speaking to the media after the release of the joint statement, Austria's Permanent Representative on the Security Council, Mr. Thomas Mayr-Harting, welcomed the statement as an important one that "represents the unity" of the UN Security Council on the Sri Lankan crisis.

The Security Council statement was read out to the press by Council President Vitaly Churkin of the Russian Federation. 

Full Statement Below:

13 May, 2009

 

Security Council

 

SC/9659

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

SECURITY COUNCIL PRESS STATEMENT ON SRI LANKA

The following Security Council press statement on Sri Lanka was read out today by Council President Vitaly Churkin (Russian Federation):

The members of the Security Council express grave concern over the worsening humanitarian crisis in north-east Sri Lanka, in particular the reports of hundreds of civilian casualties in recent days, and call for urgent action by all parties to ensure the safety of civilians.

The members of the Security Council strongly condemn the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for its acts of terrorism over many years, and for its continued use of civilians as human shields, and acknowledge the legitimate right of the Government of Sri Lanka to combat terrorism.

The members of the Security Council demand that the LTTE lay down its arms and allow the tens of thousands of civilians still in the conflict zone to leave.

The members of the Security Council express deep concern at the reports of continued use of heavy calibre weapons in areas with high concentrations of civilians, and expect the Government of Sri Lanka to fulfil its commitment in this regard.

The members of the Security Council demand that all parties respect their obligations under international humanitarian law.

The members of the Security Council call on the Government of Sri Lanka to take the further necessary steps to facilitate the evacuation of the trapped civilians and the urgent delivery of humanitarian assistance to them.

The members of the Security Council take note of the steps taken by the Government of Sri Lanka to address the humanitarian situation of displaced persons and call on the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure the security of those displaced by the conflict and to cooperate with the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and other international humanitarian organizations in providing humanitarian relief and access to them as soon as they leave the conflict zone.

The members of the Security Council reiterate support for the personal involvement of the UN Secretary General and urge the Government of Sri Lanka to extend full cooperation to the United Nations in order to resolve the humanitarian crisis.

The members of the Security Council, mindful of the necessity to find a long-term solution without the threat of violence, underline that the needs of all communities in Sri Lanka have to be addressed.

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