| by Pearl Thevanayagam
(February 21, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) As the Hon. Minister of External Affairs, Prof. G.L.Peiris departs to Geneva for the 19th special sessions of the UNHRC, he should send a memo to the UNHRC to correct his designation among the list of speakers scheduled for the afternoon session on February 27, 2012 along with Kevin Rudd, the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs.
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No matter what, the minister deserves his well earned professorship but the UNHRC clerks have given him the title of Mr. This is a serious insult to a senior cabinet minister of our country. GLP is not Dr Mervyn De Silva or President Dr Mahinda Rajapaksa whose doctorates were bestowed on them in a day. He is a learned and much esteemed professor of Law and former Vice Chancellor of one of the oldest universities in the whole of Asia.
This is just a small observation and does not preclude the more serious matters which will be raised at the sessions. Interestingly UK State Minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Jeremy Browne will take the floor during the morning session on February 27. What Browne would say will be keenly watched by observers and he will have his say long before our minister has a chance. With 10 countries scheduled for this session in the afternoon one can safely assume Sri Lanka would get less than 45 minutes to put forward its case.
Then we have Ms Tamara Kunanayakam, Sri Lanka’s permanent representative to the UN? UNHRC? (She does not clearly state) sent a very sharply worded rebuke to the President of UNHRC Laura Dupuy Lassere on September 14, 2011. One would have thought she at least would have a legitimate seal. But then this is Sri Lanka and her position is bound to change with the change of regime so why waste precious metal or rubber on a passing permanent representative.
Ms Kunanaykam’s bold rebuttal to the UNSG sent to UNHRC President who hails from Uruguay, South America and the fact she served as ambassador for Cuba probably gave her the ammo to point her finger at the UNHRC President since she truly believes she is on par with Ms Lassere as can be seen in the following missive. It marks her as a very brash and a person lacking diplomacy for a diplomatic posting. She must be eating her own words now that the government had admitted wrongdoings albeit inadvertently and President Rajapaksa must be thinking twice before letting her set a foot into the sessions.
UNSG Ban Ki Moon is the highest authority in the UN and the UNHRC comes under his purview. But Ms Kunanayakam is warning the president of the UNHRC, the UNSG commissioned report could be prejudicial to the future effectiveness of the Council.
This is once again the tale of the elephant and the mouse where the mouse asks the elephant if it hurt him.
Would eminent diplomats such as Jayantha Dhanapala, Vernon Mendis, Bernard Tillekeratne, Neville Kanakaratne et al of the old school use such crude language on a very senior UN diplomat? More to the point is it not a serious faux pas to have even let her admonish UNSG Ban Ki Moon who has the power to send her packing?
(The writer is Asia Pacific Journalism Fellow at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, California and a print journalist for 21 years. She can be reached at email@example.com)