Statement by H.E. Dr. Palitha Kohona
Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nation General Debate of the Second Committee of the 65th United Nations General Assembly, New York, 6 October 2010

Madame Chair,

Allow me to congratulate you on behalf of my government on your election. 

My delegation associates itself with the statement made by the distinguished representative of Yemen on behalf of the G-77 & China.

Our leaders, in their deliberations last month, have agreed on the need to achieve the MDGs in their entirety by 2015. Developing countries have dedicated scarce resources to fully achieve the eight MDGs that we together and solemnly pledged to realize a decade ago. This was a pledge on behalf of humanity. There are considerable advancements achieved by many developing countries despite multiple and, sometimes, crippling challenges. In the case of Sri Lanka, these achievements are significant in the areas of health, education and gender. According to the UNICEF, Sri Lanka’s “experience is among the most compelling” in achieving, “the best indicators for child and maternal health and access to primary health care in South Asia”. Sri Lanka achieved these indicators, despite a long drawn and debilitating conflict now decisively ended, the global financial crises and other challenges. Sri Lanka’s achievements are a credit to its political institutions, its caring cultural attitudes and the impact of its mature democracy.

Middle and lower middle income developing countries, including Sri Lanka, have been particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of the multiple global crises. Official Development Assistance (ODA) and other forms of traditional development assistance to the middle income countries demonstrate a depressingly downward trend, and as a result, those countries have been compelled to depend mainly on multilateral trade and the global financial system to generate funds to achieve the MDGs. Our dependency on the Bretton Woods Institutions and the WTO has therefore become an inevitable reality, which is increasingly frustrating, due to the stagnation of the WTO Doha Development Round and the absence of coherence, representative-governance, and transparency in the global financial architecture. The aspirations echoed in the Monterrey Consensus to strengthen the UN leadership in promoting development and enhance coordination, collaboration, coherence and effectiveness among the UN System and the multilateral trade and financial institutions therefore need to be reemphasized.  We welcome the IMF’s recent general SDR allocation of US $ 250 billion to emerging market and developing countries that has helped to boost their reserve assets. However, the IMF, as a quota-based institution, must consider a permanent expansion of its resources through a general quota increase reflecting the current global realities. We propose doubling of the overall quotas by the end of the next review in 2011. Institutions determining the world’s financial infrastructure need to be conscious of this sentiment.

The unfair trading system, trade barriers and agricultural subsidies have hindered the economic development of developing countries, particularly small and vulnerable economies. It is important to implement a Global Trading System which is universal, rule-based, open, non-discriminatory, fair and equitable, in order to contribute to growth, sustainable development and employment generation. We are still optimistic of reaching a development oriented early outcome to the Doha Development Round.

Madame Chair,

Global climate change calls for the widest possible cooperation by all countries and their participation in an effective and appropriate international response, in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities and their social and economic conditions. Sri Lanka is fully supportive of the aspirations of developing countries to achieve development, while minimizing carbon emissions in a rapidly diminishing atmospheric carbon space. Development is a right that cannot be denied to the vast majority of humanity. We are optimistic of the work of the 14th Session of the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) and the 12th session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) hosted by China in Tianjin.  We are confident of the initial draft tabled by the drafting groups of the AWG-LCA at its previous session in Bonn with a view to reaching an outcome document at the UNFCCC/COP-16. Though the document has been extensively bracketed, we see forward looking and practical elements in the text, including the core issues such as shaping a globally shared vision for long-term cooperative action, as well as enhanced action on adaptation, mitigation, finance, technology transfer and capacity-building.

As a developing country we see technology transfer and financing as the core to enabling developing countries to realize their goals, while preserving the environment for future generations. This is a reality that the world must recognize. Sri Lanka would support REDD-Plus activities, which are country driven and voluntary. These activities must be subject to adequate, predictable and sustainable financing and technological support. Indigenous people and local communities should be involved in the implementation of REDD-Plus activities. 

Sri Lanka, as a Party to the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Cartegena Protocol on Bio-safety, encourages bio-prospecting, research against the background of a strong legal framework with mechanisms to access genetic resources and equitable benefit sharing. We have initiated action to formulate a domestic legal framework and a survey of biotechnology and bio-safety in the process of launching the National Bio-safety Framework in accordance with the Cartagena Protocol. My government looks forward to supporting the deliberations of the COP-10 of the CBD in Nagoya this month, coinciding with the International Year of Biodiversity.
Madame Chair,

We recognize the importance of innovative approaches adopted by developing countries to share mutual advantages through South-South cooperation. The important role played by the UN Specialized Agencies, particularly the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), in linking sustainable industrial development and South-South Cooperation should be encouraged. In this regard the UNIDO initiative towards the establishment of UNIDO centres for South-South Industrial Cooperation in China and India and other developing countries is welcome in the spirit of cooperation among developing countries. We also encourage the expansion of mechanisms such as the national cleaner production centers (NCPCs) to adopt effective strategies to streamline sustainable consumption and production (SCP) patterns. My country has introduced a National Cleaner Production Policy and Strategy (NCPPS). The NCPPS requires developing sectoral Cleaner Production (CP) policies based on the National Policy. Accordingly, National Cleaner Production Policies have been developed for the health, fisheries and tourism sectors. Sri Lanka hosted the Ninth Asia Pacific Roundtable for Sustainable Consumption and Production (APRSCP) in Colombo in June this year.

Madame Chair,

Our home-grown development strategies have proven successful in moving closer to achieving the MDGs. The government has clearly identified the digital divide within the country. We have taken computer literacy and Information Technology to the villages in Sri Lanka, where the majority of our people live. According to recent surveys, 11.4% households in Sri Lanka own desktop or laptop computers. Currently 20.3% of country’s population is computer literate. Our goal is to reach 50% in the next five years.  The usage of mobile phones in the country is over 70%. There are plans to establish rural ICT centres under the theme “e- Life” and connect rural youth to the cyberspace. We have in the past five years established 600 plus “Wisdom Outlets” or rural tele-centres which are important rural business and knowledge sharing outlets. This number will exceed one thousand by 2011. We take note of the contribution of the Internet Governance Forum held in Vilnius.  There are also nearly 270 Science and Technology Centres in the country. We have been able to set up computer centres in three thousand five hundred schools across the country, which is one third of our school system.

Madame Chair,

The deliberations here have emphasized the need for further collaboration in international efforts and above all, the implementation of our common agenda as agreed at all multilateral fora.  

I thank you, Madame Chair.


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