SRI LANKA/NEPAL: SCA A/S BLAKE'S SEPTEMBER 29, 2009 MEETING WITH UN UNDER-SECRETARY GENERAL FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS LYNN PASCOE AND UNDER-SECRETARY GENERAL FOR HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS JOHN HOLMES

Identifier: 
09STATE102030

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 STATE 102030

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/30/2019
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PHUM, PREF, PTER, EAID, ICRC, UN, IN, CE, NP
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA/NEPAL: SCA A/S BLAKE'S SEPTEMBER 29,
2009 MEETING WITH UN UNDER-SECRETARY GENERAL FOR POLITICAL
AFFAIRS LYNN PASCOE AND UNDER-SECRETARY GENERAL FOR
HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS JOHN HOLMES

Classified By: SCA A/S Robert O. Blake, Jr. Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (U) September 29, 2009; 12:00 p.m.; New York.

2. (SBU) Participants:

U.S.
SCA A/S Blake
Donald Camp, Senior Area Adviser, USUN
Douglas Mercado, Adviser, Humanitarian Affairs, USUN
Anthony Renzulli (SCA Notetaker)

UN
U/SYG for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe
U/SYG for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes
Lisa Buttenheim, Director, Middle East and West Asia
Division, Dept. of Political Affairs
Anne Gueguen-Mohsen, Political Affairs Officer, Dept. of
Political Affairs
Andrew Cox, Chief of Staff to U/SYG Holmes

3. (C) SUMMARY. In a September 29 meeting on the margins of
the UN General Assembly, UN Under-Secretaries General Pascoe
and Holmes questioned the government of Sri Lanka's
credibility, especially on IDP returns, but said top UN
officials would continue to press the GSL on the importance
of allowing freedom of movement. The UN will not support new
closed transit camps, and is urging that screened and
low-risk IDPs be given freedom of movement. A/S Blake
expressed appreciation that U.S. and UN messages are in
synch. Pascoe and Holmes offered to reinforce to GSL
officials the importance of retaining the International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Sri Lanka, but have been
asked by the ICRC to let it fight its own battles. Pascoe
doubted that the GSL was prepared to take meaningful steps on
accountability in the near-term before elections in early
2010, but suggested that a process for political
reconciliation was beginning to take off. Blake briefed on
the draft report to Congress on violations of international
humanitarian law by both sides during the war. On Nepal,
Pascoe noted concern about the government's lack of urgency
to bring the Maoists back into the political process; India
too seemed complacent. The status quo risks a return to
violence, he said. END SUMMARY.

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SRI LANKA: IDP RETURNS
----------------------

4. (C) Pascoe, who recently visited Sri Lanka, questioned
the credibility of GSL officials; no one believes they can
meet their current timetable for moving people out of the
camps. A/S Blake agreed, saying he had urged the GSL to
demonstrate some real successes on the ground, because nobody
believes them anymore. The U.S. has stressed the importance
of working with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
and others to figure out a way to resettle significant
numbers of IDPs. He noted the discussion within the USG on
continuing to finance humanitarian assistance to IDPs in
closed camps that do not meet international standards for
treatment of displaced persons; the U.S. is exploring ways to
use food aid and other assistance to support the returns
process.

5. (C) Holmes said that his advice to the Sri Lankans is to
open the camps. At the very least, allow freedom of movement

STATE 00102030 002 OF 003

SUBJECT: SRI LANKA/NEPAL: SCA A/S BLAKE'S SEPTEMBER 29,
2009 MEETING WITH UN UNDER-SECRETARY GENERAL FOR POLITICAL
AFFAIRS LYNN PASCOE AND UNDER-SECRETARY GENERAL F
for screened and/or low risk detainees; the UN will not
support any new closed camps. The GSL should not detain all
IDPs out of concern for the presence of LTTE combatants.
Rather, it needs to begin to allow low-risk detainees to have
greater freedom of movement. He noted that UNSYG Special
Representative on the Human Rights of IDPs Walter Kaelin, who
had recently returned from Sri Lanka, pressed this point with
Presidential Adviser Basil Rajapaksa. The military,
according to Holmes, is concerned that recent returnees were
not properly screened.

6. (C) Pascoe observed that, during his visit, the GSL
officials wanted to show that they are doing something on IDP
returns, and they are. Demining, for example, is proceeding,
at least in the Mannar area. Reconstruction in Mannar is not
a charade, he went on, but resettling 2,500 families is only
the tip of the iceberg. Pascoe opined that the GSL is
overwhelmingly concerned that if IDPs are not properly
screened, LTTE remnants in the camps could get their hands on
remaining arms caches and trigger a bombing or other
terrorist act before the elections. Blake expressed
skepticism that these remnants represented much of a threat,
with all of the top LTTE leadership either killed or
captured. More positively, Pascoe said, GSL officials are
beginning to recognize that they could better monitor former
LTTE in their villages than in the camps, i.e., they are
beginning to form a security argument for expediting IDP
returns. Indeed, the camps are a tinderbox; failure to
decongest Manik Farm poses significant security risks.

7. (C) Pascoe said UN officials would continue to travel to
Sri Lanka to "pester" GSL officials; the UN has no other
leverage. Following Kaelin and Pascoe, Holmes will travel to
Sri Lanka; then Pascoe or UNSYG Chief of Staff Vijay Nambiar
will return. A/S Blake noted that he and Assistant Secretary
Schwartz would return to the region in the fall to reinforce
these points.

----
ICRC
----

8. (C) A/S Blake regretted the current state of GSL-ICRC
relations, noting the very critical role ICRC had played on
human rights and the constructive relationship the GSL had
previously had with the ICRC. He asked if Pascoe had raised
the ICRC during his visit. Holmes surmised that the Sri
Lankan military is taking revenge on the ICRC, which it
believes abetted the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) in the past. Holmes
and Pascoe had asked the ICRC if it wanted help in retaining
its mandate in Sri Lanka, but, as usual, the ICRC preferred
to fight its own battles. ICRC has explained to the
government what it is in Sri Lanka to do; if the government
does not want it there, it will leave. It has already lost
access to former LTTE combatants. Expelling the ICRC, Holmes
said, would be "daft." Pascoe noted that he told FM
Bogollagama earlier on September 29 that Sri Lanka is going
to need the ICRC to look after the rights of the 10-15,000
LTTE detainees it is presently holding.

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POLITICAL RECONCILIATION;
ACCOUNTABILITY
--------------

9. (C) Blake previewed for Holmes and Pascoe the report to
Congress being prepared by the State Department Office of War
Crimes Investigations (S/WCI) on potential violations of
international humanitarian law and crimes against humanity
committed by both sides during the final stages of the
conflict in Sri Lanka. He asked Holmes and Pascoe if there
is discussion within the UN on supporting an accountability
process in Sri Lanka.

STATE 00102030 003 OF 003

10. (C) Pascoe observed that the government is not yet
prepared to take meaningful steps on accountability, but that
political reconciliation is beginning to gain traction. The
opposition Tamil National Alliance (TNA), for example, has
shown some enthusiasm for engaging with the GSL. The UN
continues to push on accountability. It would rather have
the Sri Lankan government initiate a process that the UN
could assist with, but if the government does not do it, then
there are international mechanisms that could. Blake
questioned President Rajapaksa's decision to delay steps
toward reconciliation and devolution until after spring 2010
elections, noting that he has already weakened and divided
the political opposition; from his political perspective, any
loss in nationalist votes would be offset by gains from
liberals and Tamils.

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NEPAL: COMPLACENCY IN BRINGING
MAOISTS INTO THE POLITICAL PROCESS
----------------------------------

11. (C) Pascoe noted his meeting in New York with Nepali PM
Nepal, expressing concern about the GON's lack of urgency to
bring the Maoists back into the political process. India,
too, had shown complacency, he said. A lack of progress
risks a return to violence and civil war, Pascoe cautioned.
Blake agreed, but questioned why it would be in India's
interest to favor the status quo. He told Pascoe he would
raise the issue with his Indian counterparts.
CLINTON