The consistent Free Health Policy of Sri Lanka sets an effective and successful model for Developing Countries

Sri Lanka highlighted the notable achievements in its free health care sector, including the draft policy on the National Medicinal Drug Devises and Cosmetic Authority which the Cabinet of Ministers approved recently. 
 
Representing  Sri Lanka, Second Secretary Ms. Dilini Gunasekera speaking at the Human Rights Council  Social Forum on “Access to medicines in the context of the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, including best practices in this regard” held between 18 – 20 February 2015, noted that the persistent commitment at all levels including the highest policy level, demonstrated by Sri Lanka, could be considered as an effective and successful model for developing countries in terms of best practices.
 

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Sri Lanka calls for greater pace in the Working Group on Right to Development

Intervening at the Informal inter-sessional meeting of the Working Group on the Right to Development held from 16 – 17 February 2015 in Geneva, 
Sri Lanka expressed concern at the slow pace of progress in the Working Group on Right to Development and expected that the new framework to be presented by the Chairperson-Rapporteur will not only contribute to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the Working Group but also provide a new roadmap for this Working Group to achieve early completion of its mandate.
 

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Ambassador Aryasinha calls on expatriate Sri Lankans and organizations to help in making the 'Declaration of Peace' pledge a reality abroad in practical ways

National Day celebrated in Geneca 2015

Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha has said the special 'Declaration of Peace' pledge made at this year’s Independence Day celebration in Sri Lanka was an important reminder of the concerted efforts being made in the country to seek reconciliation and to ensure that we do not repeat mistakes of the past. He said the challenge before expatriate Sri Lankans, was to consider ways and means of making the 'Declaration of Peace' pledge a reality abroad in practical ways. He particularly urged Sri Lanka related organizations abroad, to play a catalytic role in furthering the objectives of unity, amity and reconciliation contained in the 'Declaration of Peace' in all their work.  

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Senior Advisor Jayantha Dhanapala meets with High Commissioner for Human Rights and Members of the Human Rights Council

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Mr. Jayantha Dhanapala, Senior Advisor on Foreign Affairs to the President of Sri Lanka visited Geneva from 27th – 29th January 2015.

He met the High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, President of the Human Rights Council Joachim Rücker, as well as all members of the Human Rights Council in Groups.

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Buddhist Centre opened in the “House of Religion” in Bern

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The ceremonial opening of the Buddhist Centre in the “House of Religion” in Bern , Switzerland was held on 14th December 2014, following the opening of the “House of Religion”, which is an intercultural and interreligious centre accommodating places of worships for number of other religions including Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, etc. 


The Buddhist Centre will provide an opportunity to the followers as well as the community interested in Buddhism to exchange their views on Buddhism, engage in Dhamma discourse and to practise meditation.

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"Global South must reflect on 'how' development is done,not just 'what' is done"- Ambassador Aryasinha

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Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha has said, in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Global South must continue to reflect on 'how' development is done, not just 'what' is done.

He made this observation, when in his capacity as and Chairman of the Personal Representatives of G-15 , together with Executive Director of the South Centre Dr. Martin Khor, he initiated a joint consultation by the South Centre and the Group of Fifteen (G-15) on 'The state of play of the Post-2015 Development Agenda and potential opportunities for the Global South'.

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Sri Lanka pledged a voluntary contribution of 10,000 US$ towards the UNHCR Global Appeal 2015

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Sri Lanka pledged a voluntary contribution of 10,000 US$ towards the UNHCR Global Appeal 2015 at the UNHCR Pledging Conference held on 09th December 2015. The Global Appeal 2015 Update by the UNHCR presented the financial resources that will be required in 2015 which amounts to US $ 6.23 Billion, to protect and improve the lives of millions of people, including, refugees, internally displaced people, returnees, stateless people, and others of concern.
 
Addressing the UNHCR Pledging Conference, Ambassador Aryasinha appreciated the assistance extended by UNHCR to Sri Lanka in a number of occasions, especially under the post-conflict resettlement programme; in terms of the provision of shelter grants and basic household items for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) and during the Tsunami in 2004. 
 

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Ambassador Aryasinha meets with Secretary for Relations with States of the Vatican Archbishop Dominique Mamberti

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Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha met Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See at a luncheon meeting on 6th December 2014 in Bern. The luncheon meeting was organized by Monsignor Diego Causero, Ambassador of Holy See in Bern for diplomats accredited to the Holysee, on the occasion of Archbishop Mamberti’s visit to Switzerland. 
 
At the meeting Ambassador Aryasinha updated Archbishop Mamberti on the arrangements for the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to Sri Lanka in January 2015. They were confident that the visit will further strengthen ties between Sri Lanka and the Holy See.    
 

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Sri Lanka says concerted and sustained efforts are needed to eliminate obstacles to the realization of the right to development

Sri Lanka said “while there needs to be commitment at both national and international levels to achieve full realization of the right to development, effective international cooperation is essential to create a conducive environment to the realization of the right to development.”

Intervening during a panel discussion on “Realizing a Vision for Transformative Development: Challenges and Paths to Progress” at the commemorative event “'Sustainable Development with Dignity and Justice for All' organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the occasion of the 28th anniversary of the 1986 United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development, held on 2nd December 2014 at Palais des Nations in Geneva, Sri Lanka highlighted that concerted and sustained efforts are needed to eliminate obstacles to the realization of the right to development, such as unequal trade relations; unsustainable debt burdens; restrictions on technology transfer, labour flow and aid; and the democratic deficit in global governance; all of which exclude developing countries from full participation within the international decision making process. 

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Sri Lanka joins in measures to protect migrant workers at the Abu Dhabi Dialogue

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A series of initiatives aimed at boosting protection and improving conditions of employment for millions of foreign workers in the Gulf have been agreed upon at the Third Ministerial Consultative Meeting of the Abu Dhabi Dialogue (ADD) comprising Asian countries sending and receiving labour, which concluded in Kuwait last week. The 'Kuwait Declaration' noted that "recognizing that individual government's efforts may fall short, we resolve to work together to prevent and sanction exploitative recruitment practices that place workers at great risk and undermine fundamental rights".

Ministers and Heads of Delegations from Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, the Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Vietnam attended this meeting, held on 26-27 November 2014 under the chairmanship of Kuwait. Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha led the Sri Lanka delegation.

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Sri Lanka maintains a human rights based approach towards its migrant workers with a comprehensive labour migration policy

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Sri Lanka stated that a comprehensive labour migration policy has been developed, with a view to managing labour migration properly and orderly and to ensure dignity, security and equity for Sri Lankan nationals seeking employment abroad. The Government of Sri Lanka has taken concerted efforts in several policy key areas, namely, improving recruitment practices and educating labour agents, pre-departure orientation, empowerment of those migrants who have re-entered the country, facilitating cheaper, faster, and safer transfer of remittances.
 
Sri Lanka’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Mrs. Samantha Jayasuriya made this statement at the 105th Council of the International Organization for Migration on 26th November 2014 in Geneva.
 

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The Group of Fifteen urges for a further political and public recognition of the positive contribution of migration to development

On 26 November 2014, during the 105th Session of the Council of the International Organization for Migration in Geneva, Ms. Samantha Jayasuriya, Chargé d’Affaires of the Sri Lanka Mission in Geneva delivered the Group of Fifteen’s (G-15) Joint Statement on behalf of Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva and Chairman of the Personal Representatives of the G-15. In the statement, she drew attention to the positive impact of international migration flows in the development of countries of origin, transit and destination. In addition, she highlighted international migration should be incorporated to the global economic discourse and development paradigm, given its cross-cutting and multidimensional reality involving all areas of human rights, labor, health, economy and education.

 

Press Release

Sri Lanka’s finest Tea at UN Bazaar

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Sri Lanka’s renowned tourist attractions and its finest teas were in focus at the National Stall set by the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations, Geneva at the United Nations Women’s Guild Bazaar held on Tuesday, 18 November 2014 at the Palais des Nations.

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Sri Lanka designated to Chair 2015 Meeting on the CCW

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Sri Lanka has been designated by acclamation to Chair the 2015 Meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva, succeeds Ambassador Remigiusz A. Henczel, the Permanent Representative of Poland to the UN in Geneva.

Accepting the honor conferred on Sri Lanka by the 118 High Contracting Parties to the convention at the conclusion of the week long CCW sessions in Geneva on 14 November 2014, Ambassador Aryasinha expressed appreciation to the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) for proposing Sri Lanka on behalf of the Group. He said, "I am deeply humbled by the confidence placed in Sri Lanka, and the recognition of Sri Lanka's contribution to the field of disarmament over many decades - through the the Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace initiative, the Conference on Disarmament (CD), the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA), the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and particularly since the ending of the terrorist conflict by its comprehensive demining programme, a key focus area of the CCW".

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Sri Lanka ready to share its experience in comprehensive demining as a 'best practice' with other countries

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Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha has said Sri Lanka stands ready to share its experience in comprehensive demining as a 'best practice' with countries which are facing similar challenges. Noting that "Sri Lanka’s continuing progress in demining has been achieved by telescoping what according to some estimates was to take 15 – 20 years, into one of 5 – 7 years duration, he said this was not only a rewarding experience for our people as they now move about freely across the country, but also a positive lesson for other conflict affected countries, where nationally owned and nationally driven programmes could achieve their intended purposes, if the necessary political commitment, resolve and pragmatic vision is put in place".

Ambassador Aryasinha made these observations when he addressed the 16th Annual Conference of the High Contracting Parties to Amended Protocol II on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the use of Mines, Booby-Traps and other Devices of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) on Wednesday (12 November 2014) at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons came as a result of an increased international realization that the effects caused by certain conventional weapons may be excessively injurious and indiscriminate. The Convention and its Protocols together manifest a clear intention and commitment of the Contracting Parties to address this challenge effectively, through the adoption of national programmes and measures.

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Sri Lanka reiterates its support for the adoption of a Declaration on Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas

Sri Lanka reiterates its supports the adoption of a Declaration which would demonstrate the commitment and efforts of the international community for the promotion and protection of the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas.

Sri Lanka made this intervention at the First Informal Consultation of the Open-ended Working Group on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas at the Human Rights Council on 12 November 2014 in Geneva.

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GOSL responds to News Release by the UN OHCHR

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Following the News Release yesterday (7 November 2014) by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights condemning disinformation designed to discredit the UN investigation on Sri Lanka, the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva has sent the attached communication to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in this regard.

 

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Sri Lanka emphasizes commitment to address the issue of 'ethical labour recruitment practices' during its tenure as Colombo Process Chair

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Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha, has said Sri Lanka which took over the chair of the Colombo Process (CP) one year ago was of the view that if it were to make a difference and ensure that some real benefits would accrue to the people of the member countries, it was important that they address the tough issues, including 'Ethical Labour Recruitment Practices'. He noted that in ongoing deliberations the CP is seeking to harmonize existing national regulatory frameworks, promote Standard Employment Contracts (including addressing issue of contract substitution and create a registration mechanism for contracts), consider common minimum wage levels, and conditions that promote health and well-being and insurance protection, and to develop a common position on ethical recruitment practices.

Ambassador Aryasinha made these observations and reviewed the progress made by the CP under Sri Lanka's leadership, when he addressed an Expert Consultation on Recruitment Practices and their Impact on Human Rights of Migrants, held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on 31 October 2014. The consultation was convened by Mr. Francois Crepeau, Special Repporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants and was attended by diplomats, academics, representatives of the ILO and IOM, Recruitment specialists, as well as NGOs involved in the field.

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BOI represents Sri Lanka at the World Investment Forum 2014

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Hon. Lakshman Yapa Abeywardhana highlights the importance of private sector engagement in achieving Sustainable Development Goals 
 
Hon. Lakshman Yapa Abeywardhana, Minister of Investment Promotion led Sri Lanka delegation to the World Investment Forum 2014(WIF), held in Geneva from 13-16th October 2014. 
 
The Hon. Minister addressed the High Level Ministerial Round Table held on 16th October, as part of the World Investment Forum 2014.  The event gathered over thirty Ministers from many countries across the world as well as heads of International Organizations to debate the need of the private sector to be a vital partner to public sector efforts in achieving sustainable development goals(SGDs).

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Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa leads Sri Lanka delegation to IPU sessions

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A high level Sri Lankan Parliamentary delegation led  by the Hon Chamal Rajapaksa, Speaker, including members of Parliament attended the 131st Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union from 12-16 October 2014 in Geneva. Hon. Nimal Siripala de Silva, Hon Mahinda Samarasinghe, Hon. Ruwan Wijewardene, Hon. Ramesh Pathirana, Hon. Vijayakala Maheshwaran, Hon. Ajith Perera and Secretary General of Parliament Mr. Dhammika Dasanayake were accompanied Hon. Chamal Rajapaksa  to the Assembly.
 

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Sri Lanka should be judged in proportion to the challenges faced by a country emerging from a 30 year terrorist conflict - Ambassador Aryasinha tells the Human Rights Committee in Geneva

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Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva and Leader of the Sri Lanka delegation to the Human Rights Committee Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha asked the Human Rights Committee to “judge Sri Lanka in proportion to the challenges Sri Lanka has continued to face as a country emerging from a 30 year terrorist conflict".

The Ambassador made this observation in responding to comments made during the consideration of Sri Lanka's 5th Periodic Report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) by the Human Rights Committee, which was held on 7-8 October 2014 in Geneva. The Human Rights Committee comprises a body of independent experts from 18 countries that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by its State parties.

Responding to a question raised by the Committee as to why the PTA is still in existence in Sri Lanka, Ambassador Aryasinha said Sri Lanka does not shy away from making considered choices and is adept at differentiating, in the best interest of its people. He recalled that notwithstanding security concerns, the government had speedily resettled almost all internally displaced persons, that out of approximately 12,000 LTTE ex-combatants who have been reintegrated into society, all but 114 are undergoing rehabilitation, and 84 are under legal proceedings, and that in 2011 the government had allowed emergency to lapse, which at the time many felt was too hasty. In spite of concerns raised, the Government of Sri Lanka had taken these calculated risks. He said, the government had to keep the PTA in effect, albeit reluctantly, due to recent incidents pointing to attempts at the resurgence of terrorism in Sri Lanka with involvement of external networks. He pointed out that such caution was also taken by many governments who have had to face the threat of terrorism.

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Sri Lanka asks refugee receiving countries to expedite processes of finalizing resettlement claims

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Sri Lanka has called on refugee receiving countries to expedite the processes of finalizing resettlement claims and to also assist UNHCR to enhance its resource capacity, in order to overcome present difficulties being experienced in Sri Lanka on account of rapid influx of refugees/asylum seekers.


Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva and CDA a.i. Mrs. Samantha Jayasuriya in a statement to the 65th Session of the Executive Committee of the UNHCR on Thursday in Geneva (2 October 2014), said despite not being a signatory to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, Sri Lanka has been accommodating refugees/ asylum seekers in the country. However, during the last two years Sri Lanka witnessed an almost 700% increase in the arrival of asylum seekers/refugees, resulting in serious law & order, security, as well as health related issues for Sri Lanka. While being sensitive to the humanitarian aspects of asylum seekers/refugees, the Government has sought UNHCR’s assistance in addressing related issues including establishment of a safe house/welfare centre for identified refugees until they are resettlement, regularization of the return of asylum seekers whose claims have been rejected, expediting the resettlement process; and ensuring adequate facilities and monetary assistance provided to Asylum seekers until their claims are processed or resettlement is found. However these issues remain largely unresolved and Sri Lanka urges UNHCR to work closely with the Government to resolve these issues.

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Like Minded Group Joint Statement says " the intrusive mandate given to the OHCHR by Res. 25/1 to carry out investigations on Sri Lanka is unwarranted"

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Twenty-two developing countries of the Like Minded Group (LMG) in Geneva, in a joint statement made through its Chair - Egypt, have said the Group "believes that the intrusive mandate given to the OHCHR by Res. 25/1 to carry out investigations on Sri Lanka is unwarranted, especially in the context where the country is implementing its own domestic processes". It said "OHCHR's efforts should contribute to a state's own efforts in the promotion and protection of human rights, as stipulated in the UNGA Res. 48/141, UNGA Res. 60/251, UNGA Res. 65/281 and in the IB package. These core documents do not confer any oversight authority to the OHCHR over sovereign countries. Any external assistance to countries should expressly be in consultation with and with the consent of that country". It also noted that "however, in contravention of these fundamental principles, Resolution 25/1 calls for 'comprehensive investigation' by the OHCHR, thereby vesting an investigative authority on the office". It said, "as we have observed, successive resolutions on Sri Lanka have not enjoyed the consensus of the Council members. This was amply evident by the divided vote of 14 against, 10 abstentions on OP 10 of resolution 25/1, which sought to establish the OHCHR investigation". The statement added "the international community should be mindful not to jeopardize the delicate process of reconciliation that is already underway in Sri Lanka".
  
The countries joining this statement (see full text below) were; Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bolivia, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, DPRK, Myanmar, Nicaragua,  Pakistan, Russia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Uganda,  Venezuela, Zimbabwe. It was delivered on Thursday (25 September 2014) following the 'Oral Update' of the High Commissioner and the reply by Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative.
 

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Sri Lanka will not help legitimize a flawed process that could set dangerous precedent by cooperating with the OHCHR investigation

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Responding to the ‘Oral Update’ on Sri Lanka by the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva today (25 September 2014), Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha said “the Government of Sri Lanka does not wish to help legitimize a flawed process and have a detrimental precedents established”, and hence “has to respectfully refuse those who urge that Sri Lanka cooperate with the OHCHR investigation.”

He said this position has been taken after much consideration and represents not only the will of the Sri Lankan people as reflected in the motion recently adopted in the Parliament with an overwhelming majority, but also the majority within the Human Rights Council, who refused to support Operational Paragraph 10 of HRC resolution 25/1 which created an OHCHR investigation on Sri Lanka in March 2014.

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Ambassador Aryasinha commends Sri Lanka – WIPO Action Plan as a useful model for Developing Countries

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Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha said Sri Lanka believes that the ‘10 Point Action Plan’ between the Government of Sri Lanka and WIPO could serve as a useful model for developing countries in upgrading their intellectual property protection regimes and delivering the benefits of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) to a broader spectrum of stakeholders.

Ambassador made this observation when he addressed the 54th Series of Meetings of the Assemblies of Member States of WIPO on 23rd September 2014 in Geneva. He noted as the coordinator of SAARC Countries for WIPO- SAARC Consultation Meeting earlier this month, Sri Lanka highlighted the need to enhance implementation of the Development Agenda through its activities and the importance of formulating targeted country plans to achieve the objectives of WIPO’s technical assistance. He also added that the proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen mutual cooperation between WIPO and SAARC countries, expected to be considered during the upcoming Summit Meeting of SAARC Member States scheduled to be held in Kathmandu November this year, will further contribute to the development of IP regimes in our region.

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Sri Lanka expresses concern about increasing use of armed drones

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Sri Lanka has said it is greatly concerned by the increasing use of remotely piloted aircraft or armed drones in counterterrorism operations, violating the international human rights and humanitarian laws, in particular the principles of precaution, distinction and proportionality.
 
Ambassador Aryasinha addressing the Panel discussion on “Ensuring use of remotely piloted aircraft or armed drones in counterterrorism and military operations in accordance with international law, including international human rights and humanitarian law”  on 22 September 2014 at the 27th Session of Human Rights Council in Geneva, said  Sri Lanka supported the Council's call to ensure that incidents of killing civilians during the use of such drones are promptly investigated in a transparent and accountable manner and victims are appropriately compensated. He further pointed out that the possibility of acquiring or development of armed drones by non-state actors or terrorist groups should not be excluded and suggested to draw early attention on the matter and take precautions as it would be a serious threat to international peace.
 

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