Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mangala Samaraweera addressing the High Level segment on the opening day of the 28th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, on 2nd March 2015 in Geneva briefed the Council on developments in Sri Lanka following the presidential election on 8th January and the new Government taking office. The Minister noted the Government was committed to engage and work in cooperation with a range of international organisations and countries and seek solutions to issues through dialogue, cooperation, understanding and learning.
Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha has said the special 'Declaration of Peace' pledge made at this year’s Independence Day celebration in Sri Lanka was an important reminder of the concerted efforts being made in the country to seek reconciliation and to ensure that we do not repeat mistakes of the past. He said the challenge before expatriate Sri Lankans, was to consider ways and means of making the 'Declaration of Peace' pledge a reality abroad in practical ways. He particularly urged Sri Lanka related organizations abroad, to play a catalytic role in furthering the objectives of unity, amity and reconciliation contained in the 'Declaration of Peace' in all their work.
Mr. Jayantha Dhanapala, Senior Advisor on Foreign Affairs to the President of Sri Lanka visited Geneva from 27th – 29th January 2015.
He met the High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, President of the Human Rights Council Joachim Rücker, as well as all members of the Human Rights Council in Groups.
The ceremonial opening of the Buddhist Centre in the “House of Religion” in Bern , Switzerland was held on 14th December 2014, following the opening of the “House of Religion”, which is an intercultural and interreligious centre accommodating places of worships for number of other religions including Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, etc.
The Buddhist Centre will provide an opportunity to the followers as well as the community interested in Buddhism to exchange their views on Buddhism, engage in Dhamma discourse and to practise meditation.
Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha has said, in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Global South must continue to reflect on 'how' development is done, not just 'what' is done.
He made this observation, when in his capacity as and Chairman of the Personal Representatives of G-15 , together with Executive Director of the South Centre Dr. Martin Khor, he initiated a joint consultation by the South Centre and the Group of Fifteen (G-15) on 'The state of play of the Post-2015 Development Agenda and potential opportunities for the Global South'.
Sri Lanka said “while there needs to be commitment at both national and international levels to achieve full realization of the right to development, effective international cooperation is essential to create a conducive environment to the realization of the right to development.”
Intervening during a panel discussion on “Realizing a Vision for Transformative Development: Challenges and Paths to Progress” at the commemorative event “'Sustainable Development with Dignity and Justice for All' organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the occasion of the 28th anniversary of the 1986 United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development, held on 2nd December 2014 at Palais des Nations in Geneva, Sri Lanka highlighted that concerted and sustained efforts are needed to eliminate obstacles to the realization of the right to development, such as unequal trade relations; unsustainable debt burdens; restrictions on technology transfer, labour flow and aid; and the democratic deficit in global governance; all of which exclude developing countries from full participation within the international decision making process.
A series of initiatives aimed at boosting protection and improving conditions of employment for millions of foreign workers in the Gulf have been agreed upon at the Third Ministerial Consultative Meeting of the Abu Dhabi Dialogue (ADD) comprising Asian countries sending and receiving labour, which concluded in Kuwait last week. The 'Kuwait Declaration' noted that "recognizing that individual government's efforts may fall short, we resolve to work together to prevent and sanction exploitative recruitment practices that place workers at great risk and undermine fundamental rights".
Ministers and Heads of Delegations from Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, the Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Vietnam attended this meeting, held on 26-27 November 2014 under the chairmanship of Kuwait. Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha led the Sri Lanka delegation.
On 26 November 2014, during the 105th Session of the Council of the International Organization for Migration in Geneva, Ms. Samantha Jayasuriya, Chargé d’Affaires of the Sri Lanka Mission in Geneva delivered the Group of Fifteen’s (G-15) Joint Statement on behalf of Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva and Chairman of the Personal Representatives of the G-15. In the statement, she drew attention to the positive impact of international migration flows in the development of countries of origin, transit and destination. In addition, she highlighted international migration should be incorporated to the global economic discourse and development paradigm, given its cross-cutting and multidimensional reality involving all areas of human rights, labor, health, economy and education.
Sri Lanka’s renowned tourist attractions and its finest teas were in focus at the National Stall set by the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations, Geneva at the United Nations Women’s Guild Bazaar held on Tuesday, 18 November 2014 at the Palais des Nations.
Sri Lanka has been designated by acclamation to Chair the 2015 Meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva, succeeds Ambassador Remigiusz A. Henczel, the Permanent Representative of Poland to the UN in Geneva.
Accepting the honor conferred on Sri Lanka by the 118 High Contracting Parties to the convention at the conclusion of the week long CCW sessions in Geneva on 14 November 2014, Ambassador Aryasinha expressed appreciation to the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) for proposing Sri Lanka on behalf of the Group. He said, "I am deeply humbled by the confidence placed in Sri Lanka, and the recognition of Sri Lanka's contribution to the field of disarmament over many decades - through the the Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace initiative, the Conference on Disarmament (CD), the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA), the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and particularly since the ending of the terrorist conflict by its comprehensive demining programme, a key focus area of the CCW".
Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha has said Sri Lanka stands ready to share its experience in comprehensive demining as a 'best practice' with countries which are facing similar challenges. Noting that "Sri Lanka’s continuing progress in demining has been achieved by telescoping what according to some estimates was to take 15 – 20 years, into one of 5 – 7 years duration, he said this was not only a rewarding experience for our people as they now move about freely across the country, but also a positive lesson for other conflict affected countries, where nationally owned and nationally driven programmes could achieve their intended purposes, if the necessary political commitment, resolve and pragmatic vision is put in place".
Ambassador Aryasinha made these observations when he addressed the 16th Annual Conference of the High Contracting Parties to Amended Protocol II on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the use of Mines, Booby-Traps and other Devices of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) on Wednesday (12 November 2014) at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons came as a result of an increased international realization that the effects caused by certain conventional weapons may be excessively injurious and indiscriminate. The Convention and its Protocols together manifest a clear intention and commitment of the Contracting Parties to address this challenge effectively, through the adoption of national programmes and measures.
Sri Lanka reiterates its supports the adoption of a Declaration which would demonstrate the commitment and efforts of the international community for the promotion and protection of the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas.
Sri Lanka made this intervention at the First Informal Consultation of the Open-ended Working Group on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas at the Human Rights Council on 12 November 2014 in Geneva.
Following the News Release yesterday (7 November 2014) by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights condemning disinformation designed to discredit the UN investigation on Sri Lanka, the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva has sent the attached communication to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in this regard.
Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha, has said Sri Lanka which took over the chair of the Colombo Process (CP) one year ago was of the view that if it were to make a difference and ensure that some real benefits would accrue to the people of the member countries, it was important that they address the tough issues, including 'Ethical Labour Recruitment Practices'. He noted that in ongoing deliberations the CP is seeking to harmonize existing national regulatory frameworks, promote Standard Employment Contracts (including addressing issue of contract substitution and create a registration mechanism for contracts), consider common minimum wage levels, and conditions that promote health and well-being and insurance protection, and to develop a common position on ethical recruitment practices.
Ambassador Aryasinha made these observations and reviewed the progress made by the CP under Sri Lanka's leadership, when he addressed an Expert Consultation on Recruitment Practices and their Impact on Human Rights of Migrants, held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on 31 October 2014. The consultation was convened by Mr. Francois Crepeau, Special Repporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants and was attended by diplomats, academics, representatives of the ILO and IOM, Recruitment specialists, as well as NGOs involved in the field.
Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva and Leader of the Sri Lanka delegation to the Human Rights Committee Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha asked the Human Rights Committee to “judge Sri Lanka in proportion to the challenges Sri Lanka has continued to face as a country emerging from a 30 year terrorist conflict".
The Ambassador made this observation in responding to comments made during the consideration of Sri Lanka's 5th Periodic Report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) by the Human Rights Committee, which was held on 7-8 October 2014 in Geneva. The Human Rights Committee comprises a body of independent experts from 18 countries that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by its State parties.
Responding to a question raised by the Committee as to why the PTA is still in existence in Sri Lanka, Ambassador Aryasinha said Sri Lanka does not shy away from making considered choices and is adept at differentiating, in the best interest of its people. He recalled that notwithstanding security concerns, the government had speedily resettled almost all internally displaced persons, that out of approximately 12,000 LTTE ex-combatants who have been reintegrated into society, all but 114 are undergoing rehabilitation, and 84 are under legal proceedings, and that in 2011 the government had allowed emergency to lapse, which at the time many felt was too hasty. In spite of concerns raised, the Government of Sri Lanka had taken these calculated risks. He said, the government had to keep the PTA in effect, albeit reluctantly, due to recent incidents pointing to attempts at the resurgence of terrorism in Sri Lanka with involvement of external networks. He pointed out that such caution was also taken by many governments who have had to face the threat of terrorism.
Sri Lanka has called on refugee receiving countries to expedite the processes of finalizing resettlement claims and to also assist UNHCR to enhance its resource capacity, in order to overcome present difficulties being experienced in Sri Lanka on account of rapid influx of refugees/asylum seekers.
Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva and CDA a.i. Mrs. Samantha Jayasuriya in a statement to the 65th Session of the Executive Committee of the UNHCR on Thursday in Geneva (2 October 2014), said despite not being a signatory to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, Sri Lanka has been accommodating refugees/ asylum seekers in the country. However, during the last two years Sri Lanka witnessed an almost 700% increase in the arrival of asylum seekers/refugees, resulting in serious law & order, security, as well as health related issues for Sri Lanka. While being sensitive to the humanitarian aspects of asylum seekers/refugees, the Government has sought UNHCR’s assistance in addressing related issues including establishment of a safe house/welfare centre for identified refugees until they are resettlement, regularization of the return of asylum seekers whose claims have been rejected, expediting the resettlement process; and ensuring adequate facilities and monetary assistance provided to Asylum seekers until their claims are processed or resettlement is found. However these issues remain largely unresolved and Sri Lanka urges UNHCR to work closely with the Government to resolve these issues.