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's Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha has asked that greater attention be paid in Global Counter Terrorism Strategy, to the role of terrorist support networks that take the form of front organizations, the challenge posed by the abuse of Information Communication Technology (ICT) and the propriety of the use or display of terrorist group emblems, insignia and symbols.
Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, has called for "a balanced approach" in addressing the objectives of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Noting that "Sri Lanka remains fully committed to the nuclear non-proliferation commitments of the NPT and have steadfastly and consistently supported the global initiatives on non-proliferation", Ambassador Aryasinha noted that "nuclear non-proliferation however remains one of three pillars of the NPT, which requires equal attention along with the other two - promotion of safe and secure use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and nuclear disarmament". He said "such an approach which includes the implementation of the 13 practical steps agreed on to meet the disarmament commitments during the 2000 Review Conference to advance progressively towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons, is a necessary step on the road map to achieving the ultimate goal of a world free of nuclear weapons."
Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, addressing the Conference on Disarmament (CD) on Tuesday (05 March 2013), expressed the disappointment of Sri Lanka over the failure of the CD to reach consensus on its Programme of Work. He urged Member States to make concerted efforts to reach an early agreement on the Programme of Work. Ambassador Aryasinha highlighted that Nuclear Disarmament remains the highest priority of Sri Lanka in the work of the CD and that its international treaty obligations undertaken in the field of Disarmament are an indication of the country’s commitment to the elimination of the threat posed by nuclear weapons. Emphasizing the need to reach an early agreement on a universal, unconditional and legally binding instrument to assure non-nuclear weapon states against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, Ambassador Aryasinha said it is imperative to start negotiations for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons with a specific time frame.
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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".
I call to order the 1061st plenary meeting of the Conference on Disarmament.
I have the honour to convey the following message of good wishes addressed to the Conference by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, Hon. Rohitha Bogollagama.
‘I have great pleasure in addressing this special message on the occasion of Sri Lanka’s assumption of the Presidency of the Conference on Disarmament. As a small, yet always engaged member State of the United Nations, Sri Lanka’s assumption of the Presidency of this Conference is yet another manifestation of its commitment to and belief in multilateral diplomacy as the indispensable means to address major global challenges and enhance the prospects of a stable, just and peaceful world. The Conference on Disarmament, as the sole multilateral negotiating body on disarmament matters has a proud history of codification and remains relevant in our constant endeavour to free the world from all weapons of mass destruction.
On behalf of the observer delegation of Sri Lanka, I would like to congratulate you on your election as President of this meeting. The delegation of Sri Lanka would like to take the floor under this agenda item to provide a brief account of its position with regard to the Ottawa Convention as well as the on-going humanitarian de-mining activities in the country.
Since this is the first time my delegation is taking the floor under your Presidency, may I extend our sincere felicitations and commend the serious manner in which your Presidency has been prepared, with wide consultations and also for your initiative of organising the seminar by UNIDIR on negative security assurances, an important topic which continues to engage our attention. You quite rightly reminded us in your opening statement that the issue of negative security assurances has figured from earliest times on the agenda of the Committee on Disarmament since its creation in 1979 and subsequently in the renamed Conference on Disarmament due to their continued significance as a confidence building measure. We also appreciate the impressive compilation of the documents on NSA’s put together by the Secretariat and distributed in the Conference.
Since this is the first time my delegation is taking the floor under your Presidency of the Conference, I take this opportunity to extend our sincere congratulations and also to compliment the serious, careful manner in which your Presidency has been prepared. You may, of course, count on the full support of my delegation and myself personally as a Friend of the President to contribute to the successful conclusion of your task. We appreciate the impressive compilation of the basic documents on PAROS put together by the Secretariat and distributed today.
Since this is the first time I am speaking under your Presidency, may I extend our greetings and convey sincere good wishes for every success. Although you did mention on 23rd March that your opening remarks had lost much of their traditional value due to the unprecedented P6 initiative, it could also be said that within this collective engagement, each President has his own important responsibility; during your tenure of office, this will include preparing and conducting the structured debate on FMCT. You also rightly reminded us that the debate takes place in the background of extensive early FMCT related consultations in the CD.
Since this is my first intervention under your Presidency, let me take this opportunity to extend our sincere congratulations on your assumption of this important responsibility. We also join other delegations to request you to convey sincere condolences on behalf of Sri Lanka to the families of those who lost their lives in the tragic accident in Katowice.
Your Presidency offers a unique opportunity since your country Poland has experience and understanding of the aspirations and sensitivities across the regional groups. Moreover, the Polish Presidency comes at a crucial time. As you mentioned in your opening statement our current situation is one of serious frustration and quests for alternative approaches to get the CD back to work. We must also be mindful of the management reforms currently being processed in New York, which will bring new pressures to further reduce the resources allocated to the CD for reasons of the impasse in this body. During this year, considering what is at stake, all of us in the CD bear a special responsibility to engage, each other and our capitals, using all the creativity, flexibility and political will evoked by many delegations, to assure a healthy continuity of this unique body.