Sri Lanka, as one of the Troop Contributing Countries (TCC) to the United Nations (UN) since the year 2004 has been in the practice of sending troops for UN Peace Keeping assignments in large groups in close collaboration with the UN Department of Peace Keeping Operations (UNDPKO).
To be in line with the UN Secretary General’s decision No. 2012/18 on 11 December 2012 in relation to ‘screening of UN personnel for Human Rights’, the Sri Lanka Army, consequent upon discussions with the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, UNDPKO and the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) resolved that a national mechanism be followed with respect to independent screening of personnel through the HRCSL.
Accordingly, the national process of screening which needs the fullest cooperation of both the HRCSL and the armed forces for vetting UN bound own members came into effect early this year, although previous such clearance procedures were executed by authorities in the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva.
“The Sri Lanka Army, much more contented to have been screened by our own independent authority, i.e HRCSL, particularly at a time Sri Lanka is expanding its participation in UN assignments, accordingly began submission of details of Army personnel, selected for UN missions for HRCSL’s independent vetting. In the meantime, UNDPKO in constant touch with the Sri Lanka Army has been inquiring into reasons, attributable to delayed dispatches of Sri Lankan troops for scheduled rotational releases as agreed upon,” the Army media unit said today.
The Army said that a round table conference to this effect, attended by the Secretary to Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chairperson and Commissioners of the HRCSL, visiting UNDPKO officials of the UN, New York, Commanders of the Army and Navy, Air Force Chief of Staff, Director General of the Directorate of Army Overseas Operations, STF officers and Ministry of Defence officials took place as recent as Thursday (21) in Colombo.
The Sri Lanka Army said that it would always cooperate with the HRCSL for clearance of the backlog since information that had been produced by the Army for screening in some cases could also contain shortcomings, complications, discrepancies, due to operational commitments, change of residential addresses, etc.
The Sri Lanka Army while assuring its best cooperation all the time to the HRCSL for implementation of its mandate expects the bilateral understanding and coordination would enable both parties to sort out the pending issues amicably as early as possible.
At present, Sri Lankan troops, majority being from the Sri Lanka Army have been deployed in Lebanon (UNIFIL), South Sudan (UNMISS), Mali (MINUSMA), Abyei (UNISFA), New York (UNHQ), Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and Western Sahara (MINURSO), either as military observers, liaison officers, staff officers, staff officer assistants or general contingent troops for peace keeping. To-date a total of 450 Sri Lankan peace keepers are serving 7 UN peace keeping overseas missions under the UNDPKO. (Colombo Gazette)