|Hon. Mahinda Samarasinghe’s message on the Commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the UDHR|
|Wednesday, 10 December 2008|
Message from Hon. Mahinda Samarasinghe, MP, Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights on the occasion of the commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Adoption and Proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – 10 December 2008
Human rights are critical to the achievement of lasting peace and securing the fruits of equitable and sustainable development in Sri Lanka. As the nation faces many challenges in the present era, we must, in keeping with the noble aspirations enunciated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), come together and forge a common Sri Lankan identity which will enable us to meet these challenges in unison and ensure a better tomorrow for future generations.
The philosophical basis for human rights is respect for inherent human dignity. It is only when we respect each other’s rights that we can build a strong, united society that celebrates and nurtures diversity and fosters growth and advancement. All persons, whatever their ethnic background, their language, their religion or culture, must have the same guarantee that their dignity will be respected by their fellow citizens, the State and its institutions. It is only then that a durable peace and a more prosperous future can be attained.
Human rights gained greater prominence in the aftermath of the Second World War as the drafters of the Declaration hoped for a world free from fear and want, in which social progress and better standards of life for all peoples would be assured. On 10 December 1948, 60 years ago, several nations of the world came together at the UN General Assembly and declared in the UDHR, an expression of basic inalienable rights of all human beings. This exposition has become the basis for much of what we understand as human rights today.
The Government of His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa is working to ensure that human rights of all Sri Lankans, without distinction, are safeguarded, advanced and promoted. Our main contemporary challenge is to ensure that the people in the North and East, as well as Sri Lankans living in all other parts of the country are able to go about their lives in security and without fear, are treated equally without discrimination, are able to freely elect their representatives, are able to seek economic and educational advancement, are healthy and are able to enjoy the richness of their religious and cultural heritage without hindrance. All of the foregoing goals are directly referable to the enjoyment of human rights enshrined in the UDHR. Just like the people of the East who have embarked on the journey to a better and more prosperous future over the past 18 months, it is our hope that people in the North will soon be set free from the scourge of terrorism and violence.
Sri Lanka has long recognized that our people are entitled to basic rights and freedoms. We have enshrined the fundamental rights and freedoms that our people are entitled to in our supreme law – the Constitution. However, we need to proactively promote the full realization of all rights, economic, social and cultural, in addition to civil and political rights, recognizing and upholding the principles of indivisibility, universality and interdependence of rights. We need to analyze our protection and promotion system to identify gaps and weaknesses, highlight and sustain our strengths and creatively address the various aspects of the right to development. To this end my Ministry is leading the national effort to prepare a National Plan of Action on the promotion and protection of human rights in keeping with the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (1993); the outcome of the World Conference on Human Rights.
The National Action Plan will also focus on implementation of the several pledges, voluntary commitments and recommendations accepted by Sri Lanka during its engagement with the Human Rights Council earlier this year during the Universal Periodic Review Process.
To commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the UDHR my Ministry has conducted a competition for grassroots-level government agencies through the District and Divisional Secretariats all over Sri Lanka. Focusing on the areas of food security, education, health and security of the person, these grassroots agencies were invited to devise projects that will help in the realization of human rights amongst the people that they serve. We received a very encouraging response and are now rewarding the outstanding proposals from several locations with cash grants to enable the implementation of these projects during the year 2009. The winning agencies will be given training in human rights based approaches to development and supported to implement their projects.
It is my wish that, inspired by the noble aspirations of the UDHR, we can, as a nation, join together and create a Sri Lanka in which all may live in peace, amity and brotherhood.
|Last Updated ( Thursday, 23 July 2009 )|
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