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.
Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha has said, the international community, especially those countries that have faced the challenge of emerging from protracted conflict or continue to be embroiled in such conflict, would particularly appreciate the significance of Sri Lanka's achievements since the ending of terrorism a little over 3 years ago.
Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, addressing the Conference on Disarmament (CD) on Tuesday (31 July 2012), has expressed Sri Lanka's "profound disappointment that the Conference has not been enabledto undertake substantive work on its agenda". He said, "it is time to avoid the temptation of subjecting the work of this Conference to the vagaries of changing international strategic landscape, and instead, to harness its potential to contribute towards enhancing cooperative security". Emphasizing the importance of the CD "as the sole multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community", Ambassador Aryasinha said, "in order to continue to preserve the unique role of the Body, it is vital that all of us, the Member States, allow the Conference to begin its substantive work on the basis of a balanced and focussed Programme of Work, that takes into account security concerns of all its Members in an equitable manner, thereby ensuring its acceptance by consensus".
Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha presented credentials accrediting him as Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in Geneva to Ambassador Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Director-General, United Nations Office in Geneva on 19 July 2012.
Sri Lanka Participates in the 20th Session of the Human Rights Council
Apprises the Council of Progress with regard to Reconciliation
Sri Lanka briefed the Human Rights Council on progress with regard to reconciliation and on developments since the onset of peace, in a comprehensive statement delivered by the national delegation on the Opening Day of the Human Rights Council 20th Session on Monday 18th June in Geneva, in the presence of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay. The statement referred, among other issues, to the process of implementation of the recommendations of the domestic reconciliation mechanism, the LLRC, which is underway. The statement was delivered by the Head of Delegation Manisha Gunasekera, Charge d’ Affairs a.i. of the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva, under Agenda Item 2, following the update to the 20th Session of the Council provided by the High Commissioner.
Hon Minister Maithripala Sirisena addressesthe 65th World Health Assembly in Geneva
The Sri Lankan delegation headed by the Hon Minister Maithripala Sirisena participated at the 65th World Health Assembly which concluded in Geneva last week. The assembly which took place at the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva was attended by more than 190 Member States, UN bodies and Civil society representatives. Addressing the assembly on the second day, the hon. Minister outlined the achievements and developments taking place within the medical and health spheres in Sri Lanka and further elaborated on Sri Lanka’s future plans.
Only one week after her return from the 13th Session of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XIII) in Doha, where she was elected by acclamation as an Asian Vice-Chair of the Conference and member of the Bureau, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Tamara Kunanayakam, was unanimously re-elected, also by acclamation, and in the presence of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, for a second term as Chairperson/Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council Working Group on the Right to Development. The Working Group, which opened its 13th Session today in Geneva, is composed of all UN member States, including also Political Groups (NAM, OIC, EU, African Union) and Regional Groups (Africa, Asia, Latin America/Caribbean, Western Group, and Eastern Europe) represented in the United Nations.
The inventions of Dr S.J.B Lenadora and Mr Dinesh Katugampala took the forefront at the ‘Inventions Geneva’ Exhibition, winning prestigious Gold and Silver medals at the event. ‘Inventions Geneva’ which is the 40th International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva, is considered to be one of the most important in the world. With 46 countries, represented by 789 exhibitors showing 1’000 inventions, it was open to visitors from all across Europe.
Friday, 23 March 2012
At the end of the 19th Session of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Tamara Kunanayakam, taking the floor under the concluding general segment, affirmed that the US resolution against Sri Lanka constituted a negative precedent that challenged the core values of the Human Rights Council, and reflected a blatant case of politicization that ‘takes the Council hostage to the hidden agendas of the mighty’.
It is a matter of great satisfaction to us that 15 countries voted with Sri Lanka, despite the intensity of pressure, in a variety of forms, exerted on them all. We convey to them our warm thanks and deep appreciation.
My delegation recalls Resolution A/HRC/S-11/2 adopted at the 11th Special Session on Assistance to Sri Lanka in the promotion and protection of human rights which recognizes that the promotion and protection of human rights should be based on the principle of cooperation and genuine dialogue and aimed at strengthening the capacity of Member States to comply with their human rights obligations for the benefit of all human beings, and urges the international community to cooperate with the Government of Sri Lanka in its post-conflict reconstruction efforts.
Thank you for this opportunity, as the country concerned, to outline our position in respect of the draft resolution before the Council.
Many in this Council would agree that Sri Lanka has been a role model of, consistently and unambiguously, engaging with everyone in the Council; not just on this occasion but over the years. This engagement has been voluntary and was not restricted to a period in the aftermath of the conflict, but occurred even during the height of the long-drawn-out armed conflict, against one of the worst manifestations of terrorism.
Statement made by Mr Mohan Peiris under the thematic discussion on “Sharing of best practices and promoting technical cooperation: paving the way towards the second cycle of the universal periodic review”
We have been repeatedly reminded that the promotion and protection of human rights should be based on the principle of cooperation and genuine dialogue and aimed at strengthening the capacity of member states to comply with their human rights obligations for the benefit of all human kind. It urges States to cooperate with Governments in that process.
In an unanticipated and impromptu right of reply at the Human Rights Council, Professor Rajiva Wijesinha pointed out that Amnesty International was part of the ‘band wagon’, that is now being built up. Recalling that Sri Lanka does not usually reply within the Council to nongovernmental organizations, Professor Wijesinha, said that he believed that a special exception needed to be made for Amnesty.