For the first time, two Sri Lankan undergraduate students participated in the 2016 Summer Student Programme at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, the most prominent particle physics research institute in the world. Mr. Gamage Gihan Lakmal, a graduate from the Faculty of Science of the University of Ruhuna and Mr. Malinda Shiram de Silva, a final year undergraduate from the Faculty of Science of the University of Colombo, completed their two month programme last week. The Sri Lankan students were selected on merit by CERN, following a funding arrangement negotiated by the Permanent Mission, where CERN provides financial assistance for one student and the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) funds the other student.
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera on Thursday (25 August 2016) inaugurated the 5th Ministerial Meeting of the Colombo Process (CP) at the Galle Face Hotel. Sri Lanka is the current chair of the CP and accordingly Foreign Employment Minister Thalatha Athukorale chaired the ministerial meeting as the incumbent chairperson. Director General of the Geneva based International Organization for Migration (IOM) Ambassador William Swing also officiated in the ceremony.
Representatives from the eleven manpower-exporting Asian countries in the CP - Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia - participated in the Meeting, which was preceded by the Senior Officials Meeting. Cambodia was admitted as a new Member.
Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha expressing concern on the slow progress made over the decades on international multilateral nuclear disarmament efforts, has affirmed Sri Lanka’s support for the convening of a conference in 2017, to negotiate a legally – binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination. Sri Lanka further noted that the agreement on such a negotiation would ensure the fulfillment of the wish of the UN membership at large.
He made these observations during an intervention by Sri Lanka at the third and final session of the General Assembly mandated Open – Ended Working Group (OEWG) on Taking Forward Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations, held in Geneva last week. During its final plenary meeting held on 19th August 2016, the Group adopted the report by vote, and recommend to the General Assembly to convene a Conference in 2017, to negotiate a legally – binding instrument, to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination. The recommendation, which will be assessed by the General Assembly, is seen as a significant step towards nuclear disarmament.
Consideration of the 10th-17th Periodic Reports of Sri Lanka under the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) was held on 15th -16th August 2016 at the Palais Wilson. Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva introduced the report.
4 July 2016, Geneva, Switzerland - A Framework of Cooperation between the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the Group of Fifteen (G-15), a grouping of developing countries focused on South-South cooperation, was signed on 4th July, 2016 in Geneva.
Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, Chairman of the Personal Representatives of the Heads of State and Government of the G-15 and the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in Geneva signed the Agreement on behalf of the G-15 while Mr. Nikhil Seth, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director, signed on behalf of UNITAR.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mangala Samaraweera, leader of the Sri Lanka delegation, addressed the 32nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council at the presentation of the Oral Update on the Implementation of the HRC Resolution A/HRC/RES/30/1 by the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, today (29 June 2016).
Hon. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, Minister of Justice and Buddha Sasana, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva,Mr. Mano Tittawella, Secretary General, Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms (SCRM) and other senior officials of the Government of Sri Lanka were associated with the Minister.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mangala Samaraweera, met UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein at the Palais Wilson in Geneva on 29 June 2016.
Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, Minister of Justice and Buddha Sasana, Mr. Mano Tittawella, Secretary General Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms (SCRM) and other government officials briefed members of civil society and Permanent Missions at a side event on ‘Recent Developments in Sri Lanka’ on the sidelines of the 32nd Session of the Human Rights Council held at the Palais des Nations on 28 June 2016.
H.E. Mr. Ravinatha Aryasinha, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva moderated the event.
Sri Lanka said that it remains committed to ensure the Right to Development through its national development policies. Owing to Sri Lanka’s long history of consistent investments in health, education and poverty alleviation programmes, the country has succeeded in achieving some targets in relation to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), ahead of schedule.
Sri Lanka made these observations during the Panel discussion on the promotion and protection of the Right to Development Commemoration of the 30th Anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development in the sidelines of the 32nd Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva from 13 June – 1 July 2016.
Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the WTO in Geneva Ambassador R.D.S. Kumararatne has presented to Mr. Roberto Azevêdo, Director-General of WTO the Instrument of Acceptance of the Protocol on Trade Facilitation on 31st May 2016. Sri Lanka is the 81st Member to deposit its Instrument of Acceptance with the WTO on the ratification of Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of the WTO. Once the two-third (108) of the current membership deposits its Instrument of Acceptance, the Agreement will come into effect.
The Trade Facilitation Agreement is expected to significantly benefit global trade while delivering support particularly to developing and least developed countries. The full implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement will achieve trade cost reduction and global economic growth. The developing and least developed countries of the WTO will enjoy implementation flexibilities and assistance.
Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Dr Rajitha Senaratne on Tuesday (24 May 2016) drew the attention of the 69th World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting in Geneva to the recent floods and landslides in Sri Lanka that affected nearly half a million people and appreciated the expression of solidarity and support by countries, partners and the World Health Organization (WHO), to strengthen the timely health response to the affected people.
Addressing the Assembly under this years’ theme, “Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development “, Minister Senaratne stated that “the Government of Sri Lanka is fully committed to the Sustainable Development Agenda and has already set up a multi sectoral Sustainable Development Secretariat to achieve this goal”. Drawing attention to the increasing influx of migration, Minister highlighted the need to pay attention to the health of migrants, irrespective of their status of migration. In this context, he recalled the offer made by the President of Sri Lanka to host the second Global Consultation on Health of Migrants in Sri Lanka October this year, and stated that Sri Lanka is envisaging a political declaration as the outcome of the Global Consultation to demonstrate the commitment to this important issue.
About 400,000 people have been displaced while many have lost their lives following severe flooding over the last few days throughout the Island affecting 22 out of the 25 districts in Sri Lanka. The relief and rescue operations are being conducted by the Ministry of Disaster Management with the support of the tri forces and other agencies.
We appeal to the Sri Lankan expatriate community and well wishers in Switzerland to assist in providing relief to the affected people. Given the urgent needs, the Government Authorities have decided to call for financial donations in order to purchase immediate relief items locally and to distribute them through the Government Agents in the Districts.
Minister of Science, Technology & Research of Sri Lanka, Susil Premajayantha said that there is a sense of urgency in Sri Lanka today over moving towards a knowledge based society. Underlining that Sri Lanka’s ability to facilitate a scientific culture that encourages innovative thinking will determine the country’s ability to effectively use knowledge for growth, he said emphasis has been laid on developing strong research and development culture and the methods of ensuring quality of research in the country.
Minister Premajayantha made the above observations at the 18th Annual Session of the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) held from 9-13 May in Geneva, Switzerland, during the High Level Segment on ‘Implementing the post 2015 development agenda: moving from commitments to results.’
Referring to the arguments made by some that “nuclear weapons are not illegal as per se and that the UN Charter has not excluded the possibility of using nuclear weapons in self – defense”, Sri Lanka said that such “existing lacuna in international law for not explicitly prohibiting nuclear weapons should not be taken as a cover to legitimize nuclear weapons, instead we should take it as a catalyst to work collectively in order to close the gaps and strengthen the international law.”
Sri Lanka’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Mrs. Samantha Jayasuriya made these remarks on 11th May 2016 at the second session of the Open – Ended Working Group (OEWG) on Taking Forward Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations, held in Geneva from 2-13 May 2016. She further added that a ‘step –by –step’ approach with an undefined ‘final stage’ tends to lose the momentum, and that any “undue delays in taking proactive actions or having to wait until a minimum threshold point is fulfilled by all nuclear possessing States, compromises the rights of States who are not relying on nuclear weapons for their security, and are being subjected to unfair risk of nuclear weapon detonations, accidental or intentional.”
The Director General of the Geneva based World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Dr. Francis Gurry, commended Sri Lanka for its achievements and concrete deliverables under the 10 Point GoSL-WIPO Intellectual Property Action Plan, which could serve as a good model for other countries similarly placed as Sri Lanka.
Dr. Gurry made these observations when Secretary of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce Mr. T.M.K.B. Tennekoon met him on the sidelines of the 35th Session of the Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications (SCT) held from 25- 27 April 2016 in Geneva.
A team of 7 inventors led by Dr. Mahesh Edirisinghe, Commissioner of Sri Lanka Inventors Commission (SLIC) participated at the recently concluded 44th International Inventors Exhibition held from 13-17 April 2016 in Geneva. They have secured 2 Gold Medals with a special recognition from jury for one invention, 3 Silver Medals and 2 Bronze Medals.
Two inventors were fully sponsored by Sri Lanka Inventors Commission (SLIC), having been selected from among the Presidential Award Winners and Sahasak Nimavum Award winners while the other inventors have joined the Sri Lankan delegation on their own expenses.