The United Nations Human Rights Council has disassociated itself from the screening of the Channel 4 film “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka” organized by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and FIFDH to be held on Friday (01 March 2013) in Geneva at the UN premises.
In response to a protest lodged by Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha last Monday, which was followed up with a meeting on Tuesday, the President of the UN Human Rights Council Ambassador Remigiusz A. Henczel in a letter dated 27 February 2013, has observed that such events “do not reflect an official position of the Council”.
Mahinda Samarasinghe, Minister of Plantation Industries and Special Envoy of H.E. the President of Sri Lanka on Human Rights, Leader of the Sri Lanka Delegation, today (27th February 2013) delivered the National Statement at the High Level Segment of the 22nd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Full text of the speech.
View the Video from the UN Live WEB Cast
Exercising a ‘right of Reply’ to a statement made by Ms Esther Brimmer, US Assistant Secretary of State for international organisations during the High Level Segment of the 22nd Human Rights Council today ( 26 February 2013), Ms. Priyanga Wicremasinghe, Counsellor of the Sri Lanka Permanent Mission in Geneva said, “Sri Lanka should be encouraged in its reconciliation process, rather than being singled out for any disproportionate attention in this Council”. She said, “it is especially so, at a time when having overcome a 30-year long terrorist conflict, as well as having averted what many feared would be a ‘humanitarian catastrophe’, Sri Lanka is implementing a comprehensive process of reconciliation involving all communities based on the National Action Plan on the implementation of the recommendations of the LLRC”.
Sri Lanka has re-emphasized that the promotion and protection of human rights as enshrined in the Vienna Declaration & Programme of Action (VDPA) should be carried out in conformity with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and norms governing international relations.
Intervening during a high level panel on VDPA on the opening day of the Human Rights Council's 22nd Session, Sri Lanka’s Deputy Permanent Representative Manisha Gunasekera said, “Sri Lanka recalls that the promotion and protection of human rights as enshrined in the VDPA should be carried out in a spirit of cooperation, mutual respect and dialogue, and in conformity with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and norms governing international relations.” “Sri Lanka therefore believes that the VDPA with its emphasis on cooperation and dialogue, continues to maintain its relevance, now more than ever, and we look forward to working with the Council to further enhance its effective implementation in the forthcoming years”, she added.
Sri lanka has lodged a formal protest against the screening of the latest Channel 4 documentary film “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka” organized by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and FIFDH at the Palais de Nations in Geneva on 1st March 2013. In a letter addressed to Ambassador Remigiusz Achilles Henczel, President of the Human Rights Council, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ravinatha Aryasinha said “Sri Lanka views this film, as well as the timing of its broadcast as part of a cynical, concerted and orchestrated campaign that is strategically driven, and clearly motivated by collateral political considerations”.
The newly appointed Sri Lankan Ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO), Mr. Nimal Karunatilake presented his credentials to Director General of the WTO, Mr. Pascal Lamy on 13th February 2013.
Having welcomed the new Ambassador, Mr. Lamy provided him with a brief update on the state of play in the Doha Round of Trade Negotiations, which is commonly known as the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), with special emphasis on areas where the WTO Members have been able to achieve considerable progress in consensus building.
Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha has called on Sri Lankans living abroad "to contribute towards moderating the negative narratives propagated against Sri Lanka – by clarifying genuine concerns and debunking the falsehoods".
The Ambassador made these observations when he addressed the 65th Independence Day celebrations attended by Sri Lankans living in Geneva and surrounding cities, held last week at the ‘ILO Headquarters in Geneva'. The event organized by the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka in Geneva, and attended by around 250 members of the Sri Lankan community, showcased Sri Lanka's religious & cultural diversity.
Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha, who is concurrently accredited to the Holy See, presented his credentials to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on the 13thof December 2012 at a ceremony held at the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican.
Addressing the 101st Council Session of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Geneva on Friday (30 November),Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha has observed that emphasis by the international community that Sri Lanka is now free from the dangers that constrained it during the time of the conflict, has been an important factor for those who left the country as refugees during the time of the conflict to return, with the joint assistance of the host countries, and organizations such as the IOM. However, at the same time illegal people-smuggling rings continue to rob families not only of their hard earned savings, but some times even their loved ones. Noting that the IOM, as well as a number of foreign governments, have in recent months acknowledged that the many Sri Lankans who continue to arrive on foreign soil illegally, are in fact economic migrants and not refugees, Ambassador Aryasinha said Sri Lanka remains committed to work with international partners toward raising awareness as to the dangers relating to illegal migration, with a view to end such practices. Full text of statement is attached.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay chaired a meeting on 29th November 2012 at the Palais des Nationsin Geneva to commemorate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
Sri Lanka's renowned tourist attractions and its finest teas were in focus at the United Nations Women’s Guild Bazaar held on 21 November 2012 at the Palais des Nations, organized by the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka accredited to the United Nations in Geneva with assistance from representatives of Sri Lankan Airlines from around Europe. The Sri Lanka national stall also offered tea for sale, while the Guild’s second prize this year included 2 return air tickets to Sri Lanka from Ethihad Airways with a 6 day stay at the luxurious Sidhaleppa health spa. Proceeds from the Permanent Mission’s national stall were donated to the United Nations Women’s Guild’s charity account which assists in raising funds for disadvantaged children around the world. Over the years, the Bazaar has become a premier event with the international community, attracting close upon 6 000 visitors.
WELCOME ADDRESS BY AMBASSADOR RAVINATHA ARYASINHA, CHAIRMAN OF THE PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVES OF THE GROUP OF FIFTEEN IN GENEVA
G-15 Workshop on Best Practices in Renewable Energies,
Dakar, 5-7 November 2012
Distinguished Participants, honourable guests from the Government of Senegal, esteemed colleagues from G-15 Missions in Dakar and faculty members of the University of Dakar. It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the first Workshop on Renewable Energies in Senegal organized by the Group of Fifteen.
You may be aware that the G-15 is a Summit Level Group of Developing Countries headquartered in Geneva. The Group presently has 17 member countries, including Senegal, from Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean regions of the world. Established in 1989 the G-15 has organized 14 Summits in which our Presidents and Prime Ministers have met in a demonstration of solidarity to discuss a wide range of global economic, social and political issues, particularly those affecting the welfare of the people inhabiting the developing world. As a founding member of the Group, Senegal was the gracious host of the Third G-15 Summit held in Dakar in 1992.
Welcoming the participants of the G15 Workshop on Best Practices in Renewable Energies held in Dakar, Senegal from 5-7 November 2012 Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva and Chairman of the Personal Representatives of the Group of Fifteen, recalled the establishment of the Group of Fifteen (G15) and its Summits as a demonstration of solidarity to discuss a wide range of global economic, social and political issues, particularly those affecting the welfare of the people inhabiting the developing world. He also highlighted that an important endeavour of the Group of Fifteen has been to implement South-South cooperation projects in member countries which could bring direct benefits to the people. He believed that the Workshop on Renewable Energies, as a part of G-15 technical cooperation projects which have been implemented by the Group, will also achieve its objective of enhancing the skills, knowledge and technical capabilities of all the participants.
Minister of Plantation Industries and Special Envoy of the President on Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe addressing the concluding session of Sri Lanka's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group in Geneva on Monday (5 November 2012), appreciated the interest shown by the 98 countries that made interventions during the Review on 1 November 2012. Referring to the outcome document adopted which summarized the comments made by the participating countries (attached below), Minister Samarasinghe said most speakers had commended the progress made by Sri Lanka in the short time since the end of the separatist conflict, while others who registered concerns, had also acknowledged the positive developments in the country.
A photographic exhibition titled “Sri Lanka; Facets of Post Conflict Development” was held in the entrance hall to the Human Rights Council Chamber at the Palais des Nations in Geneva from 1 – 5 November 2012. It portrays the rapid political, economic and socio-cultural developments that have taken place in the Northern and the Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka since the ending of the terrorist conflict in May 2009.
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Sri Lanka took place this afternoon at the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva , amidst Member States and Observers of the Human Rights Council. The country’s opening Statement was delivered to the Council by Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, Minister of Plantation Industries, Special Envoy of the President on Human Rights and Leader of the Sri Lanka Delegation.
Having gained the reputation of a hot-spot holiday destination, Sri Lanka has had the honour of now being ranked as the number one country to visit in 2013 by Lonely Planet. With the island returning to normalcy, after the end of its three decade conflict, it seems fitting that Lonely Planet should title the piece on Sri Lanka as ‘Serenity returns to Serendib’.
The Sri Lankan delegation, headed by Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, participated in the 50th series of meetings of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Member States held 1-9 October 2012 at the WIPO in Geneva, with the participation of more than 180 countries. The comprehensive agenda and meeting schedule was accompanied by informal meetings that took place on the sidelines of the Assemblies. Sri Lanka was nominated as Asian Group Coordinator of the WIPO, at the commencement of the Assemblies. The Asian Group nomination comes at a significant moment with Sri Lanka playing a more visible role in the multilateral sphere after the ending of its 30 year long terrorist conflict.
Addressing the 63rd Session of the Executive Committee of the UNHCR on Tuesday (2 October) Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha said, "those who downplay the significance of Sri Lanka's post-conflict achievements and constantly keep shifting goal posts, show disrespect not only to Sri Lanka and its international partners whose steadfast commitment to this task has made these achievements possible, but also to those who have at last emerged from the suffering caused by 30 years of terrorist conflict".
Professor Peiris chaired the thirty fifth meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Group of 15 (G-15) in New York on 27 September 2012. Observing that the meeting is taking place at a critical juncture when the strength of the world economy is shifting towards the developing world and an increasing number of these countries are turning to South-South cooperation to overcome their difficulties and challenges, the Minister expressed the belief that engagement among member states would advance the common cause of the G-15 as well as the wider community of developing countries. Minister Peiris welcomed the fact that the Group is well on the path to regeneration and revival, a process that was given direction and momentum at the meeting of the High Level Task Force for the Review and Revitalization of the Group, held in Colombo.
The Sri Lanka delegation to the 21st Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva is continuing to engage with the relevant Interactive Dialogues with Special Procedures Mandate Holders and Working Groups.
Participating in the Session on 'Human Rights Situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories', Sri Lanka expressed its deep concern about the hardships faced by the Palestinian people. Noting that it had long advocated the recognition of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, Sri Lanka said it remains steadfast in its unequivocal support to the people and the Government of Palestine for their just struggle to achieve the right of statehood, coexisting peacefully alongside Israel. Sri Lanka urged the Government of Israel to lift the blockade placed on Gaza, within the framework of Security Council Resolution 1860, which has a devastating impact on the lives of the ordinary people of Palestine, especially the young. Sri Lanka also voiced its belief that the State of Palestine would soon be able to assume its rightful place among the community of states at the United Nations.
On behalf of the G-15 member States, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha emphasized that developing countries and the LDc’s need UNCTAD’s assistance now more than ever in designing policies for dealing with persistent and emerging challenges for development in the aftermath of the recent economic and financial crisis which has slowed the global economic growth.
Mr Amal Senalankadhikara, Chairman of the Bureau of Foreign Employment and Mr Devseth Fernando, Additional General Manager of the Bureau of Foreign Employment took to the main podium at the opening session of the intercessional workshop, titled ‘Protecting migrants during times of crisis : immediate responses and sustainable strategies’, organized by the international Organization for Migration. The event was organized in line with the international dialogue on migration (IDM) for 2012, which aims to focus on managing migration in crisis situations.
The Sri Lanka Delegation to the 21st Session of the Human Rights Council, intervening in the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on 'Extreme Poverty', has emphasized that States and economic actors must take concerted efforts to address extreme poverty and create an enabling environment for sustainable economic development, which is accessible to all. Noting that Sri Lanka considers the Draft Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights as a tool, which can lead to developing and shaping measures and activities needed to eradicate extreme poverty across the world, the delegation called for strong political will and a multi-pronged and multi-dimensional approach at all levels to make the eradication of extreme poverty a reality.
The Sri Lanka Delegation to the 21st Session of the Human Rights Council which opened in Geneva earlier this week is continuing to engage with the relevant Interactive Dialogues with Special Procedures Mandate Holders and Working Groups.