Residential Workshop for Heads of Sri Lanka Missions/Post abroad 07-08 July 2012,Diyatalawa.

Mr. S.B.Divarathne, Secretary/Presidential Task Force for Resettlement, Development & Security Northern Province, made a presentation on “Resettlement and Rehabilitation-Northern Province” at the above workshop on 8th July 2012, in Diyatalawa.

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Statement By H.E. Major General Shavendra Silva,
Charge d' affaires a.i. of Sri Lanka to the United Nations at the
High Level Segment of the  Economic and Social Council  General Debate
Mr. President,
Distinguished Delegates,

My delegation associates itself with the statement made by the representative of Algeria on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.

The theme of this year’s High Level Segment is timely and important as it addresses critical issues related to the current financial and economic crises. We also recognize the importance of the thematic debates conducted by the UN General Assembly to address key global issues.

The renewed commitments of world leaders for a global sustainable development agenda under Rio+20, including the strengthening of the ECOSOC, were welcome outcomes. Our efforts at the national, regional and global levels, especially in collaboration with the UN system, can make a difference if we act consistently and in an inclusive and transparent manner.

Mr. President,

Sri Lanka, as a developing country, which has followed a citizen-centered socio-economic development strategy, can share many positive development experiences with the international community. Human development and developing a skilled human resource base have been key priorities in our national development agenda. We have placed great emphasis on improving the productive capacities and creating employment opportunities for those entering the labour force. Sustained investments in the health and education sectors have enhanced productivity in the country. We have achieved many socio-economic targets, including many of the Millennium Development Goals, during the course of the last two decades through our own efforts and in partnership with UN agencies.
Our nation has demonstrated remarkable success in achieving targets concerning poverty eradication, infrastructure development, public health, gender equality, and education. Achieving good human development indicators was due to the country having exploited synergistic interactions of health care with basic education, improved water and sanitation, and integrated rural development, including building rural roads. We believe that such investments are imperative if we are to build a productive and entrepreneurial human resource base.
Sri Lanka’s economy has maintained a growth rate of approximately 8% and has achieved a per capita income of US$ 2,400. Post-conflict GDP contribution of the Northern Province was 22%. The significant progress made by Sri Lanka is aptly summed up in the draft UNDP country Programme for Sri Lanka, 2013-2017, which states, “Sri Lanka is at a defining moment in its history. A three-decade war has been brought to an end, creating hope for peace and stability. Despite the war, the 2004 tsunami and the impact of the global recession, the country has achieved middle–income status.”

The statement made in Parliament by the Leader of the House and the  Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Management, Hon. Nimal Siripala de Silva in response to  the question posed by the Hon. Anura Dissanayake, MP., Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) on the position of the ‘Action Plan” for the implementation of LLRC recommendations.                

Hon. Speaker, 

At the outset, I wish to observe that the question submitted by the Hon. Anura Disssanayake, Member of Parliament, under Standing Order No. 23/2 has resulted from being completely misinformed.  

I would like to emphasize that the Government has consistently sought to ensure non-internationalization of domestic issues.  It is our steadfast position in this regard which provided the basis for Sri Lanka to categorically oppose any international initiatives which impinge on our national issues.  There were a number of overtures made in seeking Sri Lanka’s cooperation with regard to the US initiated Resolution at the 19th Session of the Human Rights Council.  However, it was decided that in the interest of keeping the self-respect of the people of Sri Lanka, it was prudent even to lose by opposing rather than accepting punitive measure from a part of the international community on solely domestic matters.  Considering the might of the opposition, Sri Lanka was faced with in Geneva, it must be acknowledged that the final result demonstrated a complete division of the UNHRC and that too in a favourable manner to Sri Lanka, as it was by a mere one vote and thereby upheld the self-esteem of the Sri Lankan people.  

The Hon. Dissanayake may note that the communication to visit Washington was delivered to the Hon. Minister of External Affairs at the end of January, 2012 and not as he said, following the adoption of the Human Rights Council Resolution which was in the 3rd week of March, 2012.  We do not understand that basis of the Hon. MP’s observation that it was more an order than an invitation to visit Washington that was communicated to the Hon. Minister.  In this context, quote from the letter of the US Secretary of State where she says.  

          “to help guide our thoughts on further action, I would like to invite you to Washington in March to discuss your plans to move ahead on reconciliation, accountability and Provincial Council elections in the North. The visit also would provide a favourable opportunity for you to meet with think tanks and our Congress to brief them…” 

Statement by Ambassador H.E. Palitha T.B. Kohona

Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations 

UN Security Council Open Debate 

Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

25th June, 2012 

“Ad-hoc approaches, that we have seen far too frequently, will not achieve the noble underlying goals of these principles. Global principles, if they are to be respected, must be applied consistently and non-selectively. Furthermore the protection task cannot be the hostage of solely theoretical analyses”. 

Mr. President,

Let me join the previous speakers in thanking the Permanent Mission of China for convening this open debate. I would also like to thank the Secretary-General, the Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, the Assistant Secretary -General for Human Rights and the ICRC representative for their presentation.  We are thankful to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala for his presence here and his presentation. 

Mr. President,

The Secretary- General’s ninth report on civilians in armed conflict in 2012 states that the five core challenges for the protection of civilians continue to “remain urgent.” It states that despite some progress, the ground reality has not qualitatively improved. Particularly worrying is that gender based violence, including sexual violence, attacks against children, schools, health facilities, humanitarian access to affected populations etc., continue unabated. 

We welcome the clarification of the principles and the misconceptions and misinterpretations relating to the protection of civilians and the responsibility to protect. “The protection of civilians is a legal concept based on international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law, while the responsibility to protect is a political concept, set out in the 2005 World Summit outcome…”  “There are important differences in their scope. The protection of civilians refers to violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in situations of armed conflict.   The responsibility to protect is limited to violations that constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity or that could be considered genocide or ethnic cleansing.” Further, the Report states that “sparing civilians from the effects of hostilities requires compliance by parties to conflict with international humanitarian law and, in particular, the principles of distinction and proportionality. It requires parties to take all feasible precautions both in attacking and in defending. The law is also clear that under no circumstances do violations of these rules by one party justify violations by any other party.” We hope that the clarifications provided in the Secretary-General’s report will contribute to the application of those principles in a considered and non-political manner without the ever too present overlay of emotion and propaganda. We also welcome the recommendations in the report, especially the focus on displacements and increased attacks against health facilities.  

Opening remarks by H.E. Dr. Palitha Kohona as the moderator of the event organized by the Government of Sri Lanka
United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20),

21st June 2012
RioCentro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

“Strengthening national apex bodies for achieving Agenda 21 and Rio+20 outcomes in Asia-Pacific countries through the accelerated implementation of national sustainable development strategies” 

Hon. Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Minister of Environment of Sri Lanka,
Distinguished Panelists,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Good evening! 

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome the Ministers and the experts of Bangladesh, the Philippines, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Fiji and Sri Lanka, the UN and other international agencies, academia and the civil society organizations to this evening's event at the Rio+20 conference.

I am happy to moderate the discussion along with Dr. Surendra Sreshthra, from UNDESA. 

Today we are assembled in our thousands in this city where the Rio process began twenty years ago to define the future we all want. 

With its own successes in achieving many of the millennium development goals, Sri Lanka is honoured to be the principle partner of this event during the historic Rio+20 conference.  

We believe that the periodic review of sustainable development strategies is highly important considering the unprecedented developments that we have witnessed, locally, regionally and globally. We are also confronted with the challenges of managing exponential population growth, ever changing demands of citizens, surfacing resource constraints (including land and energy), and finance and technologies. The world we knew in 1992 has undergone tremendous change, in particular, in the remarkable shift of economic might from the North to the South. This requires substantive changes to our own assessments and thinking. The solutions to our development problems today have to address contemporary realities.

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