An internal review of how the United Nations handled the bloody final months of Sri Lanka's civil war in 2009, when as many as 40,000 civilians were killed, has concluded that the response was "a grave failure of the U.N.," according to a leaked draft report. The panel, led by Charles Petrie, a former U.N. official, criticized what it called "a sustained and institutionalized reluctance" by staff members in Sri Lanka at the time "to stand up for the rights of the people they were mandated to assist." The report's executive summary says "many senior U.N. staff simply did not perceive the prevention of killing of civilians as their responsibility." The report also found fault with the way senior officials in New York dealt with the crisis. Officials chose "not to speak up" about "broken commitments and violations of international law" by both the Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tiger rebels because that was seen as a way to increase access to victims of the conflict. A spokesman for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon refused to comment on the draft but said the final report would be made public soon. Lyse Doucet, the chief international correspondent for BBC News who obtained the draft, reported Tuesday that the executive summary, "which sets out the panel's conclusions in stark terms," was removed from the final report.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.