Sri Lanka accedes to the Marrakesh Treaty to increase access to books, magazines and other printed materials for persons with print disabilities

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Sri Lanka on Wednesday ( 5 October 2016) became the 24th country to accede to the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled. Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, handed over the instrument of accession to the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Dr. Francis Gurry, during the ongoing 56th Series of Meetings of Assemblies of the Member States of WIPO, 3-11 October 2016 in Geneva.

More than 75 WIPO member states have signed the Treaty, which entered into force on 30 September 2016, 3 months following the ratification of the 20th country. The Marrakesh Treaty is envisaged to facilitate the availability of published works in accessible formats for the people who are blind, visually impaired, and print disabled. – such as Braille - through limitations and exceptions to the rights of copyright right holders. The Treaty is also designed to provide assurances to authors and publishers that their published works will not be misused or distribution to anyone other than the intended beneficiaries.

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Director General of WHO commends President Sirisena for advancing the health sector in Sri Lanka

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Director General of the World Health Organsiation Dr. Margaret Chan commended the efforts made by the President Maithripala Sirisena in his capacity as the former Minister of Health in advancing the health sector in Sri Lanka. The Director General made these remarks at a side –event on Non – Communicable Diseases (NCDs) which was attended by President Sirisena on the side – lines of his visit to the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly on 22nd September 2016.

The event which was co –hosted by the Government of Russia and the World Health Organisation(WHO) launched the Friends of the United –Nations Inter – Agency Task Force on prevention and control of NCDs initiative and provided an overview of the current work of the Task Force, showcasing action at country level, discuss on supporting Member States to achieve the NCD-related Sustainable Development Goals, and outlining a number of global joint programmes that now require funding in order to become operational.

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Sri Lanka committed to see expedited transformation into sustainable development

16 sep 2016 right to develp

Sri Lanka as the current Chair of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development, is committed to see expedited transformation into sustainable development. In our own country, a National Sustainable Development Act in conformity with the SDGs is scheduled to be tabled in the Parliament soon. The objective of this new Act is to formulate a National Policy and Strategy on Sustainable Development and to provide the necessary legal and institutional framework for developing and implementing it.

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Sri Lanka’s Statement on the Report by the Working Group on Enforced Disappearances

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Please find attached the full statement of the Government of Sri Lanka delivered by Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva and the Leader of the Sri Lanka Delegation to the 33rd Session of the Human Rights Council.

This Statement was made during the Clustered Interactive Dialogue with the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) held today (15 September 2016) following, the statement by the Chair Rapporteur of the Working Group presenting the report on its visit to Sri Lanka from 9 – 18 November 2015.

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UN Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW) considers report of Sri Lanka

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Consideration of the Second Periodic Report of Sri Lanka under the Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW) took place at the 25th Session of the Committee on Migrant Workers, held at the Palais Wilson in Geneva, today (1 September 2016). Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva and Leader of the Sri Lanka delegation introduced the report.

The Sri Lanka delegation to the review included Mr. G.S. Witanage, Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Employment, Mr. C.A.H.M. Wijeratne, Senior Director General (Legal), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Samantha Jayasuriya, Deputy Permanent Representative Sri Lanka , Mr. W.M.V. Wanasekara, Additional General Manager, Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau, Mr. Gamini Rathnayake, Director, Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau, Ms. Dilini Gunasekera, Second Secretary, Ms. M.L.F. Mafusa, Second Secretary, Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka and Mrs. Sarasi De Silva, Attaché/Documentation & Research of the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka.

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Colombo Process Ministerial Declaration Sets New Goals for the Group

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The Fifth Ministerial Consultations of the Colombo Process (CP) has decided to explore cooperation in the operationalization of the migration related goals in the SDGs, work towards promoting the health of migrant workers throughout the migration cycle, to focus on consular support for migrant workers and to promote equality for women migrant workers. 
 
These new thematic priorities for the group were elaborated in the ‘Colombo Process Ministerial Declaration’ adopted in Colombo on 25th August 2016, under the Chairmanship of Hon. Thalatha Athukorale, Minister of Foreign Employment and Chair in Office of the Colombo Process. Mr. G.S. Withanage, Secretary/Ministry of Foreign Employment, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN, Mrs. Samantha Jayasuriya, Deputy Permanent Representative and Ambassador William Lacy Swing, Director General/IOM and Ms. Nicoletta Giordano, Head/International Partnership Division of the IOM  were associated with Minister Athukorale in the adoption . 
 

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Ambassador Aryasinha details tangible achievements of Sri Lanka's Chairmanship of the Colombo Process

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Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva and Chair of the Geneva-based Colombo Process Member States Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha presenting a report of the Fourth Senior Officials’ Meeting of the Colombo Process Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 24 August 2016 has detailed the tangible achievements of Sri Lanka's Chairmanship of the Colombo Process over the past 3 years. 

Ambassador Aryasinha said the group had defied the conventional wisdom that the Colombo Process countries, in most instances being competitors, many of the issues that they had to grapple with were beyond the capacity of leveraging as a Group and that it must necessarily be a zero-sum-game. Under the theme   "International Labour Migration for Prosperity: Adding Value by Working Together", Sri Lanka's 'road map' for its period of Chairmanship had taken on 5 of the toughest issues related to labour migration - qualification recognition, ethical recruitment, pre-departure orientation, Promoting Cheaper, Faster & Safer Transfer of Remittances, and enhancing the  capacities of the Colombo Process participating countries to track labour market trends. The Colombo Process Technical Support Unit (CPTSU) had also been set up in Colombo in 2015 to support CP goals. The CP had also sought to strengthen engagement between CP countries and countries of destination, particularly the GCC countries, and also the EU countries.
 

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Two Sri Lankan students participate for the first time in the CERN Summer Student Programme

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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.

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Foreign Minister inaugurates Colombo Process Ministerial Meeting

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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.

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Work on first Sri Lanka Innovation Index begins

17 june 2016 IP hub

Work on Sri Lanka’s national Innovation Index set to measure the Lankan innovation portfolio, began in Colombo Tuesday.
 
“In view of the rapidly expanding knowledge-driven global trade and economic activities, Intellectual Property (IP) has acquired a very important status,” Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen said addressing the inauguration of the National Level Innovation and Intellectual Property Policy Conference.
 

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Sri Lanka supports convening conference in 2017 to negotiate a legally – binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons

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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.

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Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination considers report of Sri Lanka

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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.

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UNITAR and the Group of Fifteen in Geneva sign a Framework for Cooperation

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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.

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Statement by Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera to the 32nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council

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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.

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Foreign Minister Meets High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein

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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.

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Briefing on “Recent Developments in Sri Lanka” held on the sidelines of HRC 32

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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.

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Spicing up Development Assistance to Sri Lanka

21 june 2016 cinnamon developemnt project assistance

Delivering the keynote address at a Briefing Session organized by the Standard and Trade Development Facility (STDF) Division of WTO held on 21st June 2016 to share Sri Lanka’s experience on the Cinnamon Development Project Assistance, R.D.S. Kumararatne, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the World Trade Organization highlighted on how technical and funding assistance from international agencies such as WTO, UNIDO, ITC and WIPO are important for small economies such as Sri Lanka in sustaining performance in the spices sector in the country. 
 
In his keynote speech, Ambassador Kumararatne highlighted the uniqueness of Ceylon Cinnamon, known as true cinnamon or queen of spices is the oldest planting crop in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka supplies over 80% of world Ceylon Cinnamon requirements. Mexico accounts for over 60% of the market while the rest consists of markets such as USA, EU, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala, etc. Sri Lanka supplies its cinnamon products to over 70 countries in the world. He further elaborated on multi-faceted sector development that requires interventions at various levels to achieve targeted social and economic outcomes. Driven by a common vision, "making cinnamon a one billion dollar industry", The Spice Council (TSC) and the Government of Sri Lanka received support from the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) of WTO and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to analyse the cinnamon value chain and identify the necessary interventions to translate this vision into reality.
 

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Sri Lanka remains committed to ensure the Right to Development through its national development policies

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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.

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South Centre and Group of Fifteen (G-15) Secretariats strengthen cooperation

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Martin Khor, Executive Director of the South Centre, and H.E. Ravinatha Aryasinha, Chairman of the Personal Representatives of the Heads of State and Government of the Group of Fifteen (G-15), witness the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the South Centre, represented by Mr. Vicente Yu, Head of Administration, and the Group of Fifteen, represented by Mr. Gihan Indraguptha, Head of Office, in Geneva, 16 June 2016.
 
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the South Centre and the Group of 15 Secretariats in Geneva on 16 June 2016.
 
The signing of the MoU of cooperation between the South Centre and the G-15 Secretariats is intended to promote the work of both institutions in the strengthening of the capacity of developing countries to better articulate their interests and perspectives in multilateral, regional and national forums.

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Minister Seneviratne briefs the International Labour Conference on Sri Lanka’s efforts towards Decent Work Programme

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Addressing the 105th Session of the International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva on 09th June 2016, Minister of Labour and Trade Union Relations W.D.J. Seneviratne has elaborated on the initiatives made by Sri Lanka on the ‘Decent Work Programme’, including the “historical initiative of ‘National Minimum Wages Act No. 3 of 2016’ by which for the first time in the country a mandatory national monthly minimum wage was fixed payable to all workers by all employers in the country”.
 
While commending the initiatives taken by the ILO and its constituents towards the implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Minister Seneviratne appreciated the assistance extended by the  ILO country office to Sri Lanka in a number of areas including the formulation of a National Labour Migration Policy for Sri Lanka; National Road Map for Youth Employment; Livelihood recovery and employment creation in conflict and disaster affected areas; automation of Labour Administration System;  promoting fundamental principles and Rights at Work in Export Processing Zones (EPZ); translation of International Labour Standards in to Domestic Courts through Labour Tribunal and Affiliate  Jurisdiction.
 

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Sri Lanka ratifies the Trade Facilitation Agreement with the World Trade Organization (WTO)

Sri Lanka ratify trade facilitation agreement


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.

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Minister Senaratne draws attention of the World Health Assembly to the recent floods in Sri Lanka

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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.

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Appeal for Donations for Flood Relief

20 may 2016 floods


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.

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Adopt a Village Market

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Policy Development Office (PDO) of the Prime Minister’s Office is hosting a website about rural “polas”/village fairs. The “pola” or “santhai” is a weekly village market that plays an important role in rural life in Sri Lanka. It is a meeting place for the community and also serves as the backbone of rural economies. A sizeable amount of retail trade takes place at village fairs, sales by primary producers and purchases of non-local products brought in by distributors. By helping to modernize and build capacity in village markets, it is intended to boost rural economics throughout the island. This website can be accessed by http://villagefair.pmoffice.gov.lk/ and provides a mechanism to link those who want to help develop Sri Lanka directly with village markets in need of essential infrastructure, especially in rural communities around the island. This initiative is about making it easy for donors to fund micro-projects in Sri Lanka, projects that will make a big impact in the lives of many. The needs of individual village markets are listed. Village markets that receive funds are obligated to follow up on the progress of each micro-project. Photographs of the completed micro-project will be uploaded on to the website to maximize transparency. So far, details of Matale and Colombo polas can be viewed. Down the line, we will keep the public updated on the progress of the website. For feedbacks and innovative concepts, write to us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Prospects for Sri Lankan scientific community to engage in research carried out by CERN

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Minister of Science, Technology & Research, Susil Premajayantha who visited the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) 10 May 2016, has agreed to enhance collaboration between CERN and Sri Lanka, through the development of a network of scientific community of Sri Lankan scientists and researchers, who could remain engaged with the research activity carried out by CERN  - the most prominent particle physics research institute in the world which is best known for its flagship discovery of the ‘Higgs-Boson” in 2012. It has been suggested that a ‘network’ of scientists with an organizational structure could be formed within Sri Lanka, with one institute serving as the nucleus in collaborations with CERN. It was suggested that the suitable scientists to be members of such a ‘network’ can be identified with the help of CERN, through national science institutions such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Arthur C. Clarke Institute, 7 science faculties in Universities etc.
 
The cooperation between Sri Lanka and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) was formally initiated on 25 June 2015, following the signing of an ‘Expression of Interest’ (EOI) Agreement between Sri Lanka‘s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha and the then Director General of CERN, Prof. Rolf-Dieter Heuer at the CERN Headquarters in Geneva. Following this formalization of relations, 2 Sri Lankan undergraduate students will for the first time join the CERN Summer Student Programme in June 2016, while it has also enabled Sri Lankan teachers to apply to participate in the CERN High School Physics Teachers Programme. Also, Sri Lanka and CERN will explore possibilities for Masters and PhD students to participate in the research activities of CERN in the fields of Physics, Engineering or Computing.
 

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SRI LANKA TO CHAIR ‘ABU DHABI DIALOGUE’ AMONG ASIAN COUNTRIES OF LABOUR ORIGIN AND DESTINATION

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Sri Lanka has been unanimously elected to be the next Chair-in-Office of the 17 member ‘Abu Dhabi Dialogue’ (ADD) among Asian Countries of Labour Origin and Destination. 

Senior Officials representing member governments of the ADD at a meeting on 11- 12 May 2016 in Dubai, agreed to Sri Lanka’s proposal to host a meeting of Senior officials and the 4th Ministerial consultation in Colombo in January 2017. The Ministers responsible for Foreign Employment of the ADD countries will attend the Colombo Meeting. Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, the Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Vietnam are members of the ADD.

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