Sri Lanka’s proposal to establish a “World Youth Skills Day” adopted by the UN

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Yesterday, the United Nations General Assembly adopted by consensus, a resolution, spearheaded by Sri Lanka, declaring 15th July as the World Youth Skills Day. Sri Lanka initiated this resolution, with the assistance of the G77 & China, to highlight at a global level, the importance of youth skills development. The goal is to achieve better socio-economic conditions for today’s youth, including as a means of addressing the challenges of unemployment and under employment. This is the only resolution promoted by Sri Lanka at the UN in New York since 1999.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa mooted the idea of a UN Youth Skills Day in his address to the 68th Session of the UNGA in 2013. The proposal to designate a day for youth skills development was endorsed by both the youth and the policymakers, including Ministers, at the World Conference on Youth held in Colombo in May 2014. The ‘Colombo Declaration’ which was adopted by consensus, after detailed debate, called upon the United Nations to designate a day to highlight youth skills development to draw attention to the critical need for marketable skills. The successful adoption of this resolution by the UN General Assembly is a fulfillment of a commitment that was made by Sri Lanka to all youth around the world.

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Sri Lanka vehemently condemns terror attack in Pakistan

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The government of Sri Lanka vehemently condemned the terrorist attack yesterday at a school in Peshawar, Pakistan killing over 125 people including 84 children and injuring more than 100 others.

"This dastardly attack reflects the brutality of the perpetrators particularly targeting school children. The brazen and inhumane manner in which this heinous attack was carried out at a seat of learning is particularly shocking," the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.
 

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Another international expert appointed to Missing Persons Commission

President Mahinda Rajapaksa had appointed another international expert to advise the Presidential Commission to Investigate into Complaints Regarding Missing Persons.

The Japanese expert, a former international judge Motoo Noguchi has been appointed as the sixth foreign adviser to the Commission, Chairman of the Commission retired High Court Judge Maxwel Paranagama said.

Noguchi is a former International Judge of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Trust Fund for Victims of the International Criminal Court.

Six experts from Western and Asian countries have been appointed to the Commission at several stages. They are Sir Desmond de Silva of UK (Chairman), Sir Geoffrey Nice (UK), Prof. David Crane (USA), Mr. Avdhash Kaushal (India) and Mr. Ahmer Bilal Soofi (Paksitan) and Judge Motoo Noguchi (Japan).

The Advisory Council was appointed in July 2014 to advise the Commission on matters pertaining to its work, including legal aspects.

The Missing Persons Commission has conducted eight public sittings up to now and 19,761 complaints had been received including more than 5,000 from the families of the Security Forces.

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President expresses concern over Sydney hostage situation

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President Mahinda Rajapaksa today expressed concerns over the hostage situation in Sydney and said Sri Lanka stands united with Australia in fighting terrorism.
 
In a Tweet this morning, President Rajapaksa said that he was deeply disturbed about the hostage situation in Sydney.
 

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Sri Lanka welcomes EU appeal on lifting of LTTE sanctions

Sri Lanka welcomes the decision of the Council of the European Union to appeal the judgement of the General Court of the European Union of 16 October 2014, which annulled measures taken by the Council to designate the LTTE as a terrorist organization and the freezing of LTTE funds.
  
The action taken by the Council of the European Union demonstrates commitment for the fight against terrorism at a time when this threat is increasingly posing a significant challenge to global peace and stability, necessitating a collective and vigorous international effort to counter.  
 

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Time for SAARC to move towards result-oriented action plans - President Rajapaksa

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President Mahinda Rajapaksa emphasized the imperative need for SAARC to move towards implementing result-oriented, actionable plans, which impact directly on the lives of the people.
 
 
He said that having evolved in structure, form and content, through almost three decades, SAARC is at a crucial juncture and now there is a need to shift from the present traditional approach and move towards implementing result-oriented, actionable plans, which impact directly on the lives of our peoples.
 

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Sri Lanka's impressive socio-economic achievements placed before UN Summit

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Ambassador Palitha T.B. Kohona, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, addressing a conference on "Approaching the Negotiations on the Sustainable Development Goals" held in China on 15 November, has said detailed Sri Lanka's performance in meeting the MDG's and said " Absolute poverty in Sri Lanka declined to 6.7% in 2013 from 15.2% in 2007, surpassing the MDG mid-term target". 
 

Minister Peiris voices concerns of GOSL over OHCHR Investigation

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The Minister of External Affairs, Prof. G.L. Peiris met the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations, Mr. Subinay Nandy today and conveyed to him, the Government’s extreme discontent regarding the unprofessional manner in which the investigation on Sri Lanka is being conducted by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The Minister’s protest to the UN Resident Coordinator focused on the unacceptable way in which the deadline for submission of evidence to the investigation, 30 October, that had been originally set by the OHCHR had been changed unofficially and re-set once again.

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Minister Peiris expresses strong displeasure at the selective and biased approach of OISL

The Minister of External Affairs, Professor G. L. Peiris on Tuesday, 4th November, met the Heads of Mission and Representatives of the main proponents of the Investigation on Sri Lanka by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the High Commissioner of Australia. The Deputy Country Director of the UNDP also participated representing the UN system.
 
Minister Peiris explained to these representatives, the details regarding the recent arrest of Sinnathamby Krishnarasa, a non-rehabilitated LTTE cadre.  This action led to the discovery in his possession of blank forms containing signatures of persons affected by the conflict. The Minister revealed how questioning Krishnarasa had led to the disclosure that he had been employed by Alva Pulle Vijendrakumar alias Sun Master, a close associate of the TNA, to obtain signatures of those affected by the conflict on blank forms on the assurance that this exercise was for obtaining monetary compensation from the UN. He had also received instructions from Sun Master to collect death certificates and National Identity Card details of persons who had lost their lives during the last phase of the conflict and personal data of war widows and photographs of disabled persons. Minister Peiris explained that Krishnarasa had revealed that the forms with signatures were to be completed with fabricated “eye witness” reports to be submitted to the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL). He observed that these revelations point to several others having been employed and tasked with the collection of similar information to be presented to the OISL, particularly as Krishnarasa was in possession of a diary containing details of 400 persons who were missing, had died or been injured.
 

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Several countries and organizations on standby to support Sri Lanka after landslides

An aerial view of Meeriyabedde where Wednesday’s landslide occurred.
Several organizations and countries expressed their solidarity and offered assistance for the people affected by landslides in Haldemulla.
 
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the agency's humanitarian wings were on standby to help Sri Lanka said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric on Wednesday.
 
"OCHA is in close contact with the National Disaster Management Center and stands ready to support as requested," the spokesman added.
 

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President instructs to ensure care & security for orphaned children in Haldummula

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The President during the visit to the landslide affected Meeriyabedda area yesterday (Oct. 30) made inquiries into the persons impacted by the disaster and issued instructions to the officials concerned to ensure the security and care for the children who had lost their parents.
 
President Rajapaksa visited the Miriyabedda area in Haldummulla which was devastated by a massive landslide. The President arrived at the Sri Ganesha Tamil Vidyalaya in Koslanda where the landslide victims are being housed and made inquiries into their wellbeing.
 

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Commonwealth Secretary-General calls on President

Mahinda Rajapaksa, the current Commonwealth Chair-in-Office, welcomes Commonwealth Secretary-General Mr. Kamalesh Sharma at Temple Trees, Oct. 27, 2014. (Photo by : Nalin Hewapathirana)
 
Commonwealth Secretary-General Mr. Kamalesh Sharma called on President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees this morning to brief the current Commonwealth Chair-in-Office on the ongoing work and progress of objectives agreed upon at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2013 that took place in Colombo last November.
 
Calling it a routine “health check” of work resulting from a CHOGM, Mr. Sharma reported to President Rajapaksa that the check “is successful.”
 

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2015 Budget: Abundance of relief to all sectors

budget 2015All segments of society will receive reliefs in the form of salary increases, tax concessions, price reduction of consumer items, interest hike for savings, pension benefits and diverse subsidies and concessions.
 
Presenting the Budget for 2015 in his capacity as Finance Minister, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said the country is rapidly advancing towards its desired objectives as a economic foundation has been laid during the last 10 years. This is the 68th budget of Sri Lanka since Independence and 10th budget presented by the President.
 

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Deepavali fosters understanding among communities, increase harmony - President

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The festive day of Deepavali, which underlines the great spiritual values of Hinduism, is filled with the spirit of love and devotion, and is an occasion for Hindus to strive for greater spirituality, foster understanding among communities, and increase harmony among people, said President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The President, in his message issued for Deepavali festival states that the religious practices and festivities that go with this festival will also add to the spirit of reconciliation that prevails in the country, for which, one looks forward to the eager and active participation of the Hindu community.

 

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Sri Lanka will continue to assist EU Countries in sustaining ban on LTTE

The Ministry of External Affairs is surprised at some of the recent statements on the outcome of the case filed by the LTTE in 2011 at the General Court of the European Union in which the Council of the European Union was the defendant supported by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the European Commission as interveners. These statements by interested parties are based on an inaccurate premise.
 
The Ministry of External Affairs wishes to state that from the outset of the case being filed, legal advice and expert opinion were sought from within the European Union system and specialist European lawyers. Accordingly, the Government of Sri Lanka took action in the most effective manner available, by providing material of a substantive nature to the defendant and the interveners on a regular basis. This was in accordance with Sri Lanka being a non-member state of the European Union and having therefore to meet special conditions, contrary to the national interest of Sri Lanka, in order to be allowed to intervene itself in cases before the General Court of the European Union.
 

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Sri Lanka expresses concern on decision of the ECJ

The Government of Sri Lanka has noted with concern the decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on 16th October, to annul the EU regulations proscribing the LTTE. The defendants of this case have been the Council and Commission of the European Union, together with two member states, the Netherlands and the UK.

Expectedly, the ECJ judgment requires in-depth study by all the defendant parties. It is noteworthy that the Court has stressed the annulments to be “on fundamentally procedural grounds” and “do not imply any substantive assessment of the question of the classification of the LTTE as a terrorist group.” Further it is observed from the decision of the ECJ that “the effects of the annulled measures are maintained temporarily in order to ensure the effectiveness of any possible future freezing of funds”.

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Yal Devi again after 24 years

President -Yal Devi express train arrived in Jaffna 13oct2014

The famous north-bound Yal Devi train resumed carrying passengers to Jaffna today (Oct. 13), after a 24-year lapse, when President Mahinda Rajapaksa declared open the Northern Railway Line up to Jaffna joining the inaugural drive as a special passenger.
 
In line with this, the Jaffna Railway Station also was opened by the President. The Jaffna railway station is now featured many modern facilities including novel communication electronic signal system.
 

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President handed over land deeds to 20000 people in Jaffna

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President Mahinda Rajapaksa handed over land deeds to 20,000 people in Northern Province today (12 October 2014).

President Rajapaksa arrived in Kilinochchi today commencing his 3-day visit to North.

The people of the North who lost their lands due to the terrorist activities were given their lands again under a programme to implement the recommendations made by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).

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Sri Lanka Signs the Minamata Convention on Mercury

Sri Lanka signed the global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. Dr. Palitha Kohona, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations, signed the Minamata convention on Mercury on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka on 8th October 2014 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The Minamata Convention is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. It was concluded at the fifth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee in Geneva, Switzerland. One hundred and twenty five countries have signed this agreement, while six countries have so far ratified it.

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Special Bureau for Reconciliation to be established

The government has taken measures to establish a special Bureau for Reconciliation to facilitate the implementation of Recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation.

A Committee headed by the Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga is engaged in monitoring the implementation of 144 recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) contained in the National Plan of Action.

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President extends invitation to Pope Francis

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President Mahinda Rajapaksa who was received at an audience by His Holiness Pope Francis I this morning extended an invitation for His Holiness to visit Sri Lanka in January next year.

President Rajapaksa and First Lady Shiranthi Wickremasinghe Rajapaksa who arrived at the Vatican this morning were received with honor by Head of Vatican Protocol Office, Msgr. Jose Avelino Bettencourt. The traditional Swiss Guards of the Vatican formed a Guard of Honor to the President. Later the President, First Lady and members of the Sri Lanka delegation were escorted to Apostolic Palace where President Rajapaksa had his audience with His Holiness at the special audience hall of the Palace.

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SL participates at UN Intl’ Conference on Small Island Developing States

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Sri Lanka is participating at the Third UN International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) which is being held in Apia, Samoa.
 
The Summit was inaugurated by Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa and Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General. 
 
Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe, the High Commissioner is representing Sri Lanka at the above Summit from 1st to 4th September 2014. 
 

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President and UN Sec-Gen meet in New York

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President Mahinda Rajapaksa and United Nations Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon met for talks at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City this afternoon.
 
Congratulating President Rajapaksa on his leadership, Mr. Ban acknowledged the progress that has been made in Sri Lanka in the years after the war and expressed his optimism that the remaining challenges would also be overcome with this type of political leadership.
 

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Depoliticise UN system and mechanism to enhance credibility – President Rajapaksa calls on member nations

“As Buddha said all human endeavour must be to construct order out of chaos and harmony out of strife”
 
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Although the role of the UN in advancing international peace, security and prosperity is crucial in the contemporary world, in order to gain the confidence and goodwill of the international community as a whole, one of the essential requirements is consistency of standards across the board without any perception of selectivity or discrimination, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said. “It is in this context that the current functioning of the system needs fresh examination in order to enhance its credibility. To be successful, this process must involve de-politicisation of the UN systems and mechanisms and they must stop being hostage to different forms of funding,” he elaborated.

Addressing the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York last evening, he pointed out that human rights are used as a tool to implement motivated agendas with no understanding or appreciation of the complexity of issues in the countries concerned. “Human rights should be recognised by all as a moral and ethical concept rather than as a political tool. External intervention without adequate consideration of the structures in a society and cultural traditions of the countries where such intervention takes place, inevitably results in destabilisation, which is very much in evidence today, in most parts of the world.”
 

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Sri Lanka urges consensus building as key to multilateral outcomes

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Ambassador A.L. Abdul Azeez, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka in Vienna, Austria, has been elected by acclamation as President of the 58th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today, (23rd September 2014). He took over the office of President from South Africa's XolisaMabhongo who held the post last year.  
 
Accepting the honour conferred on Sri Lanka by the IAEA General Conference which consists of 162 Member States, Ambassador Azeez emphasized the continued relevance of the IAEA in the area of international peace and security as the world was faced with myriad challenges today. The peaceful use of nuclear energy and technology through technical cooperation and verification of nuclear safeguards makes an important contribution to the economic advancement of many countries, he added.
 

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At ICAPP General Assembly: President Rajapaksa cautions of dangerous trends to Asian Community

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The emerging trends in the world, including in parts of Asia give signals that are dangerous to the Asian Community, President Mahinda Rajapaksa cautioned the Asian political parties. 
 
“We see how external forces under the guise of democracy and other enticing slogans seek to interfere in the domestic affairs of other countries. They show little concern about destabilizing nations. They encourage domestic disharmony and we now see how the media including social media being used by the forces that are continuing the cause of division, separation and terror,” he said addressing the 8th General Assembly of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP).
 

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