Sri Lanka has expresses its strong reservations on the misplaced reference in the Annual Report to the Secretary General’s Internal Review Panel (IRP) report on Sri Lanka including provision of link to the report in a footnote, in the context of prevention. We note however that the report relevant to the subject at hand is ‘the Rights Up Front’ plan of action, to which report, surprisingly, no such link is provided. The ‘Rights Up Front’ plan of action is not meant to be retroactive but forward looking. Regrettably, the misplaced attention paid to the IRP report, which is neither endorsed by the intergovernmental process nor based on credible sources and information, can only be construed as yet another attempt to politicise the situation of Sri Lanka in the Council.
Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka
External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris has said, the highly prejudiced actions taken by a few countries and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to give disproportionate negative attention to Sri Lanka, has made the separatist Tamil elements in Sri Lanka and abroad more intransigent, making the intensely difficult task of reconciliation in Sri Lanka, even harder. He said it was unfortunate that Sri Lanka has become a “political football” in the electoral fortunes in some countries.
Minister of External Affairs and Leader of the Sri Lanka delegation Prof. G.L. Peiris, delivering the National Statement at the High Level Segment of the 25th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva today (5 March 2014), rejected the Report of the High Commissioner in its entirety, saying it was fundamentally flawed and disregarded the substantial progress made by the Government during the five years which have elapsed since the end of the thirty year conflict against terrorism. He said it also pays scant regard to the complexities and local nuances of a sensitive reconciliation process, while eroding confidence of the people of Sri Lanka by the constant changing of unjustifiable demands. Moreover, they persist in an attitude which is clearly disproportionate to the circumstances and inconsistent with the treatment of comparable situations. It is much to be regretted that the High Commissioner’s Report and those who exalt its virtues only seek to inflict harm on the reconciliation process by bringing about a polarisation of the Sri Lankan society.
The Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) has rejected the call by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navnanethem Pillay's "to establish an international inquiry mechanism to further investigate the alleged violations of IHRL and IHL and monitor any domestic accountability process in Sri Lanka", saying "it gives scant or no regard to the domestic processes ongoing in Sri Lanka within the framework of the LLRC NPOA, and is politicized in premise". The government said, the trajectory that has emerged with regard to the recommendation of the High Commissioner "reflects the preconceived, politicized and prejudicial agenda which she has relentlessly pursued with regard to Sri Lanka", since just a week following the defeat of terrorism in Sri Lanka, on 26th May 2009 at the 11th Special Session of the UNHRC on Sri Lanka, and at subsequent sessions and reports. It is noted that the reference in the current report that “the High Commissioner remains convinced” for an “independent, international inquiry” demonstrates her persistent efforts against Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka said, "it is pertinent to question the factual basis for the High Commissioner’s initial formal call to the HRC for an independent, international investigation in May 2009 and its continuation, in order that the international community not be misled".
His Holiness Pope Francis met Sri Lankans at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome in a special audience he offered to the migrant Sri Lankans living in Italy on 8 February 2014. Addressing the congregation of some 15,000 Sri Lankans at the invitation of His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, and referring to the invitation to visit Sri Lanka, Pope Francis said "I accept it and believe the Lord will give us this grace".
The Sri Lankan community resident in Geneva and the environs came together on Saturday (1 February 2014) to celebrate Sri Lanka's 66th anniversary of independence at an event organised by the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva at the ILO premises. With over 250 Sri Lankans under one roof, the event was testimony to the country's rich and multi-faceted heritage.
Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Ravinatha Aryasinha has stressed the need for strong political will to overcome the differences among Member States in order to reach a timely conclusion of a legally binding international instrument to protect Genetic Resources (GRs), Traditional Knowledge (TK) and Traditional Cultural Expressions (TCEs). Ambassador Aryasinha said such an instrument would prevent the misappropriation of intellectual property relating to GR, TK and TCEs in a fair and balanced manner, and offer the necessary protection to the human and natural resources that would bring considerable benefits to the people of the developing world. He underlined the need to strike the right balance between the rights of creators and holders of GRTKF on the one hand, as well as the interests of users on the other.
Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga who briefed Permanent Representatives to the United Nations in Geneva at the Palais des Nations on Tuesday (21st January 2014) on ‘Progress in the reconciliation process in Sri Lanka’, has said the Government of Sri Lanka has done all that was humanly possible to implement the recommendations of the National Plan of Action on the implementation of the LLRC, since its approval by the Cabinet of Ministers in July 2012.
Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Dilan Perera met with his counterpart, Secretary Labour and Employment Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz of the Philippines on Monday 6 January in Manila. The areas for collaboration discussed at the meeting included pre-departure orientation, qualification recognition process, comprehensive information orientation programmes and recruitment standards.
Minister Perera and Secretary Dimapilis-Baldoz met in their respective capacities as the current chairs-in-office of the two Regional Consultative Processes on the management of overseas employment and contractual labour in Asia, the Colombo Process and the Abu Dhabi Dialogue, respectively. Sri Lanka assumed the chair of the Colombo Process, comprising 11 countries of origin in Asia, last October in Geneva. CP comprises Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam, while ADD has a membership that includes all CP members, and additionally receiving countries Bahrain, Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
The G-15, a Summit level Group of 17 developing countries currently chaired by Sri Lanka, in a Joint Statement at the WTO’s 9th Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia on Thursday (5 December), called "for a fresh impetus for an early conclusion of the DDA with a development-oriented outcome and also emphasizes the importance of the accession to WTO by developing countries, particularly the LDCs".
Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva and Chairman of the Personal Representatives of the Group of Fifteen (G-15) has said the group recognizes the need to address international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner, premised on the developmental paradigm of migration that is sensitive to the national circumstances of countries of origin, transit and destination and one that seeks to maximize the mutually beneficial nature of international migration while reducing its negative effects. He said the G-15 was committed to work together at both the regional and international level for the protection of migrants, and believed that the IOM should continue to play a lead role in discussions relating to the post-2015 development agenda on issues concerning migration.
Ambassador Aryasinha made these observations when he delivered a joint statement at the 103rd Council of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) held in Geneva, on 28 November 2013, on behalf of G-15, a Summit Level Group of Developing Countries comprising 17 member States - Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion & Welfare Dilan Perera has said Sri Lanka which recently assumed the Chairmanship of the Colombo Process - the Regional Consultative Process on migration, will do its utmost to share its experience and bring together the eleven countries and nine observer countries of this group to address common interests, including the mismatches between supply and demand and applying ethical concepts to foreign employment management. He said Sri Lanka will also play its full part in developing the post 2015 Millennium goal development architecture, emphasizing on Migration and Development.
Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva and Chairman of the Personal Representatives of the Group of Fifteen (G-15), has urged WIPO to take measures to promote South-South Cooperation in the field of Intellectual Property for Development. He said that “WIPO should act as a catalyst to increase triangular cooperation between developing countries and LDC’s, through initiatives to identify best practices in the use of intellectual property for, inter alia, technology transfer, public health, food security, and other global challenges in which intellectual property has an important role to play".
His Holiness Pope Francis received Secretary of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa at an audience in the Vatican on Wednesday. Mr. Rajapaksa who visited the Vatican as the Special Envoy of His Excellency the President, conveyed to Pope Francis an invitation from President Mahinda Rajapaksa to visit Sri Lanka in the near future.
During his visit, the Secretary also paid courtesy calls on dignitaries of the Vatican City State. Mr Rajapaksa appreciated efforts by the Holy See to promote world peace, disarmament, interfaith dialogue and dialogue among civilisations. He said that as a nation that has been blessed with a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural social fabric, and more importantly as a country that was coming out of a long period of conflict, Sri Lanka valued the strength that comes from the unity of the diverse communities in Sri Lanka. After almost thirty years of suffering, Sri Lanka had embarked upon a new era of development and reconciliation for all its people and looked upon the international community for encouragement and support.
The Colombo Process is a Regional Consultative Process on the management of overseas employment and contractual labour for countries of origin in Asia, which was initiated at Ministerial Consultations for Asian Labour Sending Countries held in 2003 in Colombo. The group includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam, and has met in Manila (2004), Bali (2005) and Dhaka (2011) to review and monitor the implementation of previous recommendations and identify areas for future actions. The Geneva headquartered International Organization for Migration (IOM) serves as the secretariat for the Colombo Process.
The G-15 foreign ministers, meeting on the side-lines of the General Assembly last week (27 September 2013), renewed their commitment for enhanced engagement and cooperation among themselves, as well as with the relevant Geneva-based institutions. Their primary focus was on newly emerging areas of cooperation in step with the evolving post-2015 development agenda, and they agreed to expand cooperation in four new thematic areas – information communication technology, intellectual property, migration for development and renewable energy. The Group includes Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha told the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday (25 September 2013) "Sri Lanka strongly repudiates the High Commissioner’s assertion that if certain concerns are not comprehensively addressed before March 2014, she believes the international community will have a duty to establish its own inquiry mechanisms". The Ambassador said High Commissioner Navanethem Pillay had "no mandate to make such a claim". He said having accomplished the task of bringing normalcy to the lives of the civilian population, GOSL has put in place "multiple mechanisms" to address concerns relating to accountability.
In an intervention made during the interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on Sudan in the 24th session of the Human Rights Council on 25 September 2013, Deputy Solicitor General Mr. A. H. M. D Nawaz said that, as a country that has emerged from a protracted terrorist conflict, Sri Lanka is empathetic to the many challenges faced by Sudan in its progression towards normalcy.
Sri Lanka recognized the need to address, at the global level, contemporary manifestations of racial discrimination such as xenophobia and related intolerance and reiterated its strong commitment to the core principles of equality and non-discrimination embodied in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.
Addressing the 51st Session of the WIPO Assemblies on 23rd September 2013, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva observed that the innovations and the well-managed mechanisms for protection of intellectual property rights play a crucial role in enhancing the social and economic development of a nation.
As the world is looking beyond the year 2015 for way forward through a comprehensive development agenda, IP has a crucial role to play in enriching the lives of vulnerable sections of humanity and creating greater opportunities for growth and prosperity. Sri Lanka believes that IP is not only a tool for innovation and creativity but also an important catalyst for economic and social empowerment of a wide spectrum of people.
Exercising a 'right of reply' with regard to references made to Sri Lanka by Germany, the US and Ireland under Agenda Item 4 - General Debate at the ongoing 24th Session of the Human Rights Council, the Sri Lanka delegation on Thursday (19 September 2013) said, it seemed ironic that at a time when for the first time since the introduction of the Provincial Council system in 1987 elections to the Northern Provincial Council are to be held later this week that Germany should choose to discredit the process and prejudge its outcome and impact. It was noted that the commitment of the Government to ensure the transparent and free and fair conduct of the election not only to the Northern Provincial Council, but also to the Central and North Western Provincial Councils which go to the polls this Saturday is clearly demonstrated by the presence of 24 election observers from the South Asian region as well as from Commonwealth countries, on the invitation of the Elections Commissioner.
Full text of the statement
The Government of Sri Lanka has launched a three-year project, implemented by the Ministries of Cultural Affairs and National Heritage, to table a draft bill to safeguard the existence and rights of the indigenous people, “vanniyaletto” also known as the “aadivasi”. The project also provides legal facilities to the indigenous community, measures to conserve their traditional knowledge and traditional medicines, and support to establish a museum on their heritage, among others. In order to create greater awareness about the indigenous community, which is instrumental towards the preservation of their lifestyle, the Government has also established several cultural centres and documented the history of the community and their way of life.
H.E. Mr. Ravinatha Aryasinha, Chair of Personal Representatives/Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka delivered the Joint Statement on behalf of the Group of Fifteen (G-15) at the 60th Session of the UNCTAD held on 16 September 2013.
The Group observed that although globalization continues to serve as a powerful driver for strengthening cooperation and accelerating growth and development, it also presents risks and challenges, especially to the developing countries. The Group highlighted the critical role of UNCTAD to help reduce and eventually eliminate the trade gap between the developed and developing countries and to accelerate the rate of economic growth of the developing world. The Group commended UNCTAD for its incisive and independent economic research on global economic issues and encouraged UNCTAD to continue to support developing countries in their efforts to design and implement comprehensive, integrated and coherent national trade and development strategies and movement in the value chain.