An ignorant spokesman

State Department press spokesman Ian Kelly on Friday told a news briefing in Washington that he didn’t know how the US had voted at Wednesday’s UN Human Rights Commission’s special session in Geneva when the European Union tried to drag Sri Lanka over the coals.

"Kelly can wait for 100 years, if that is possible, to learn how the US voted, but he will never know,’’ a diplomatic source in the US capital chuckled. "The US is not a member of the Council, ergo, not entitled to vote.’’

Some excerpts from Kelly’s briefing transcript:

QUESTION: The – Sri Lanka was – were exempted of a probe into alleged war crimes by the UN Human Rights Council. I wanted to know if you are satisfied by that.

MR. KELLY: Well, I do have a comment for you. We participated in that special session in Geneva, a special session of the UN Human Rights Council. We believe that it’s important for the international community to have more accurate information about what has been happening on both sides during and after the recent offensive in northern Sri Lanka. We urge the Government of Sri Lanka to grant the international community full access to the region, and the UN – and as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has said, to better understand the facts on the ground in Sri Lanka and to review the situation.

And as I said many times here before, we welcome the end of the fighting and we look forward to helping, any way we can, building a lasting peace based on national political reconciliation and the full respect of human rights.

QUESTION: But what do you think about the decision of the UN Human Rights Council not to probe the government?

MR. KELLY: Well, you know, of course, we believe in accountability, but I think that our focus right now is getting humanitarian assistance to the people who need it most and to, as I said, help the Government of Sri Lanka facilitate a political reconciliation process.

QUESTION: And are you disappointed by this vote? And the U.S. voted for —

MR. KELLY: You know, I’m not sure – I’m not sure how we voted, frankly.

QUESTION: You don’t know?


The breakdown of May 27 voting on the HRC resolution concerning Sri Lanka (submitted by SL) was as follows:

In favour: Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Madagascar, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Uruguay, Zambia (29).

Against: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada , Chile , France , Germany , Italy , Mexico , Netherlands , Slovakia , Slovenia , Switzerland, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (12).

Abstaining: Argentina , Gabon, Japan , Mauritius , Republic of Korea , Ukraine (6).

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