- Venezuela’s Maduro calls on student ‘price vigilantes’ to hit the streets, report businesses
- Atheists smug as Hindus join Satanists to demand display at Oklahoma Statehouse
- Bow before Valkyrie, NASA’s ‘superhero robot’ entry in DARPA challenge
- 10-year-old Pennsylvania boy suspended for pretend bow-and-arrow shooting
- Tea partiers turn on Capitol Hill budget deal
- Budget deal to get quick vote in the House
- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro ‘marriage’
- Sebelius calls for review of Obamacare rollout woes
- American dream dying, but many see free market as solution: Poll
- Air Force base in South Carolina boots Nativity scene
Report: Sri Lanka was grave failure for U.N.
UNITED NATIONS — A draft U.N. report obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press said inadequate efforts by the world body to protect civilians during the bloody final months of Sri Lanka's civil war marked a "grave failure" that led to suffering for hundreds of thousands of people.
The report accuses U.N. staff members in Colombo of not perceiving that preventing civilian deaths was their responsibility and accuses their bosses at U.N. headquarters of not telling them otherwise.
A separate U.N. report released last year said up to 40,000 ethnic minority Tamil civilians may have been killed in the war's final months.
"This report is a benchmark moment for the U.N. in the same way that Rwanda was," said Gordon Weiss, a former U.N. spokesman in Sri Lanka, referring to the 1994 genocide in which more than 500,000 Rwandans were killed.
The draft report accuses U.N. officials and member states of being reluctant to interfere and leaving the conflict in a "vacuum of inaction."
It also says the political conditions after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States made countries less likely to stop a government fighting against a group -- the Tamil Tiger rebels -- that many had branded a terrorist organization.
The official report was being released Wednesday at the United Nations in New York.
"The report concludes that the U.N. system failed to meet its responsibilities, highlighting in particular the roles played by the Secretariat, the agencies and programs of the U.N. country team and the members of the Security Council and the Human Rights Council," said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman, Martin Nesirky, on Wednesday.
The draft report was compiled by a committee headed by former U.N. official Charles Petrie. The study investigated U.N. actions as the quarter-century war between the government, dominated by the ethnic Sinhalese majority, and minority Tamil rebels ended in 2009 in a wave of violence.
The BBC first reported on the draft report Tuesday.
The draft report paints a picture of a U.N. operation reluctant to criticize the government or accuse it of killing civilians with artillery bombardments, out of concern the government would respond by limiting U.N. humanitarian access -- even through U.N. aid workers were barred from the northern war zone in late 2008.
Top U.N. officials in the country worked repeatedly to soften statements to remove casualty figures and accusations of possible war crimes against the government, the report says.
When death tolls its staff was compiling were released, top officials dismissed them as unverified despite the rigorous methodology being used, the report says.
When U.N. satellite images confirmed heavy artillery shelling in the war zone and showed far more civilians there than the government claimed, the top U.N. official in Sri Lanka downplayed the evidence in a letter to the government, the report says.
At the same time, member states did not hold a single formal meeting on the conflict in its final months in the Security Council, Human Rights Council or General Assembly.
"The U.N set itself up for failure, in Sri Lanka," the report says.
By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
- Teen thugs in DC run wild -- even while wearing GPS ankle bracelets
- New budget accord saves $23 billion -- after $65 billion spending spree
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- VEGAS RULES: Harry Reid pushed feds to change ruling for casino's big-money foreigners
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- More than a quarter million sign up for Obamacare in November
- Gov't Motors: Obama fudges math on auto bailout, $10.5 billion loss for taxpayers
- Somber duty: U.S. presidents in hot demand at Mandela's memorial
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend's shopping jumps to his death
- MILLER: Dick Heller challenges D.C.s gun registration, files for summary judgment in Heller II
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
An objective, analysis-based perspective of D.C. sports as seen through the eyes of lifelong D.C. sports enthusiast, John Heibel.
All of the world’s problems, solved on your back porch
Human interest stories to feed interest, satisfy curiosity and see outside the box.
Politics, economics, and business from a real world perspective.
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow