Patten's comment on the candidates during Sri Lanka's Presidential elections reflects his views of Sri Lanka as a state with alleged complicity in war-crimes, and that International Community has to exercise strong economic pressure to constrain Colombo's behavior within international norms.
In a New York Times article in January 2010 Patten said that public in Sri Lanka is "faced with a choice between two candidates who openly accuse each other of war crimes," and adds, "[w]hoever wins, the outside world should use all its tools to convince the government to deal properly with those underlying issues to avoid a resurgence of mass violence....In short, this means not giving Colombo any money for reconstruction and development until we know how it will be spent. And if we see funds not being used as promised, it means not being afraid to cut them off untilwe know how it will be spent."
It is widely understood that the failure of a state to protect its own citizens is the threshold condition that triggers the R2P responsibility on the international community.
"The State has a primary responsibility to protect the individuals within it. Where the state fails in that responsibility, through either incapacity or ill-will, a secondary responsibility to protect falls on the wider international community. That, in a nutshell, is the core of the responsibility to protect (R2P) idea" and that "Sri Lanka is anything but an R2P," Gareth Evans, President, International Crisis Group, said during the eighth Neelan Tiruchelvam Memorial Lecture at International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES) in August 2007, well before the large scale massacre carried out by Colombo in May 2009.
Lord Patten's statement implicitly acknowledges that scale of the killings of Tamil civilians crossed the threshold levels to call for R2P intervention, and thereby, has added further fuel to the calls by several rights organizations for independent war-crimes investigations in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka’s military massacred as many as 40,000 Tamil civilians in the final onslaught against the Liberation Tigers in 2009, according to a former United Nations official with detailed knowledge of events.