Sri Lanka: Statement by Mr. O.L. Ameer Ajwad, Counsellor of the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka under agenda item 10 at the 6th Session of the Human Rights Council on 27 September 2007

Mr. President,

Preamble Paragraph 10 of the founding UNGA resolution 60/251 recognizes that the promotion and protection of human rights should be based on the principles of cooperation and genuine dialogue and aimed at strengthening the capacity of Member States to comply with their human rights obligations for the benefit of all human beings. Operative Paragraph 5(a) of the same resolution mandates the Council to promote human rights education and learning as well as advisory services, and to provide technical assistance and capacity-building in consultation with and with the consent of Member States concerned.

The Human Rights Council, therefore, Mr. President, has a clear mandate to start afresh to think on technical cooperation in order to avoid reverting to the past practice of the Commission which had previously linked technical cooperation to the imposing of resolutions mostly against developing countries under item 19 of the agenda.

It is in this backdrop, Mr. President, my delegation is of the view that there is a solid platform to bring a new development dimension into OHCHR’s technical cooperation, which is the primary mission of the OHCHR and to stimulate dialogue for cooperation in the new Council. Such technical cooperation should be demand-driven, based on beneficiaries’ needs. It should be provided in consultation with and with the consent of the member States concerned as noted in operative para 5(a) of the founding resolution.

The overall objective of the strategy on technical cooperation should aim at enhancing the endogenous capacity of the receiving state to identify and address critical human rights problems. In this regard, OHCHR should particularly emphasize the development of human and institutional capacities of all beneficiary countries. Activities should be supportive of poverty reduction policies and the implementation of the international development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration, and the relevant recommendations of global conferences.

OHCHR’s capacity building should focus on enhancing developing countries’ own capacity to formulate, implement and evaluate home grown policies for the following:

Firstly, for the development of their national protection system
Secondly, for the design and implementation of promotion policies and
strategies; and
Thirdly, for the development of human rights strategies within the
framework of their development goals.

Mr. President,

My delegation is also of the view that OHCHR should also build synergies with other UN organizations such as UNDP, UNICEF, ILO which already have valuable field experience and at the local level dispose of large operational budgets, since human rights is clearly now well integrated into the UN system.

OHCHR, in fact, has a good base with valuable experience in technical cooperation built over the last 50 years.

Sri Lanka has benefited from various technical cooperation programmes of the OHCHR. The newly established separate Ministry for human rights in Sri Lanka has been closely working with the OHCHR. The functions of the Ministry include the promotion and protection of human rights, coordination with the UN High Commissioner for human rights and other international and regional human rights bodies. The Ministry has initiated a number of projects in consultation with the OHCHR such as

Treaty Body Reporting including writing of a common core document setting up of a tracking system for monitoring implementation of treaty body recommendations;

Public Access to Human Rights Materials and Resources in all Three Languages;

Capacity building through human rights training for Ministry and other key government officials;

Specialized Inputs into Priority Initiatives of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Human Rights (IMCHR)

The Ministry requires technical and capacity building assistance in order to fulfill its broad mandate. The Government of Sri Lanka intends initiating a dialogue with the OHCHR with regard to seeking technical assistance and training in establishing a national monitoring process led by the Ministry of Human Rights, which will assist in ensuring consistency of practice with policy and legal standards relating to human rights, especially Sri Lanka’s international obligations undertaken under international human rights instruments.

Finally, Mr. President, My delegation wishes emphasize that since the founding resolution 60/251 identifies that the promotion and protection of human rights should be based on the principles of cooperation and genuine dialogue and aimed at strengthening the capacity of Member States upon their request, efforts should focus on national institutional capacity building and on building national ownership when providing technical cooperation. OHCHR should enhance and make full use of national expertise and institutions, so as to ensure that national stakeholders are active partners in the design and implementation of activities in the form of priority setting, skills and resources.

I thank you Mr. President.

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