UN may not be able to accept Sri Lanka’s offer of combat aircraft for peacekeeping

June 16, Colombo: With the human rights record of the Sri Lanka under cloud the United Nations may not be able to accept an offer from Sri Lanka of much-needed combat equipment for its peace keeping operations, an American magazine on global policy says.

According to the Foreign Policy magazine, UN officials have told Turtle Bay, a news service inside the UN, that Sri Lanka has offered to supply the UN with three Mi-24 attack helicopters and a pair of fix wing aircraft to aid the peace keeping operations in conflict-affected countries like Congo and Sudan.

However, since an expert panel appointed by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has alleged Sri Lanka of war crimes and violations of human rights, the UN has faced a quandary, as accepting the offer would create a controversy, the Foreign Policy points out.

Even more problematic is the possibility that accepting the offer would initiate a human rights review of Sri Lanka by the United States under the Leahy Law, according to the Foreign Policy.

Under the law, the State Department is required to vet the human rights records of foreign military contingents serving in U.N. peacekeeping missions, if there is reason to believe they may have been engaged in atrocities, the magazine says.

Foreign Policy citing unnamed UN officials say the offer seems to be a calculated move by Sri Lanka to improve the relationship with the UN at a time the pressure is mounting from the UN to hold an investigation on alleged war crimes.

Sri Lanka has participated in UN peacekeeping operations for more than 50 years, and it currently has more than 1,200 troops serving in UN missions.

The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations last month signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Sri Lankan government in order to “speed up the provision of resources to the UN when necessary.”

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