In a highly productive discussion with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the UN (24th Sept 2010) President Mahinda Rajapaksa apprised the UNSG that the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), was fully transparent and was established on the principles of accountability in keeping with Sri Lanka’s own method of searching for the truth regarding a prolonged conflict, and identifying ways of preventing such conflicts in the future.
The meeting between President Rajapaksa and the UNSG took place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly Sessions now on in New York.
Mr. Ban Ki-Moon explained to the President that the Committee appointed by him relating to Sri Lanka was in no way empowered to investigate charges against Sri Lanka, but was solely to advice him with matters relating to Sri Lanka.
President Rajapaksa informed the UNSG that the LLRC had shown it was ready to reach out to the people affected by the conflict by holding sittings in the war torn areas; it was fully accessible, and was ready to give a hearing to anyone or any organization that had information of value to the process of reconciliation and restorative justice in Sri Lanka.
The UNSG was told that in keeping with this policy the Commission had already submitted an interim communication suggesting administrative measures that should be taken to ease the lives of the people in the affected areas, and create condition for more trust among communities, and better governance.
The discussions between President Rajapaksa and the Mr. Ban Ki-Moon covered a wide range of issues relating to post-conflict development in Sri Lanka, especially the ability of the Government to resettle more than 90 per cent of the Internally Displaced in the 16 months since the defeat of the LTTE.
The UNSG appreciated the speedy work done in resettlement of IDPs, and expressed interest in the Government’s policies to rehabilitate child soldiers and other youth who had been adversely affected by the terrorism of the LTTE for nearly decades.
The possibilities of the UN and its specialized agencies participating in more in the social and economic development of Sri Lanka was also discussed, as well as the new growth in the Sri Lankan economy and new opportunities for investment and infrastructure development, which would further strengthen peace and harmony in the country.
The discussions also brought out the fact that the reports of UN agencies such as the UNHCR and others working on the ground had underlined the speed of IDP resettlement, and that there no conditions prevailing anymore for Tamils from Sri Lanka to seek refugee status in groups.
The UNSG was highly appreciative of the progress made by Sri Lanka in achieving and working towards the early achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, especially the success achieved in primary education, maternal health and infant and child mortality.
In discussing other political trends in Sri Lanka Mr. Ban Ki-Moon congratulated President Rajapaksa on the success in the two elections to the Presidency and a new Parliament. It was his view that a strong parliament had emerged in Sri Lanka, and the process of reconciliation could be best achieved through such political stability. He also said that it was very rare for a national leader to obtain a majority of over 2/3rd in the country’s legislature, which showed the leadership qualities of the President.
Associated with President Rajapaksa were External Affairs Minister Prof. GL Peiris, Mr. Namal Rajapaksa MP, and Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary External Affairs Romesh Jayasinghe, Attorney General Mohan Peiris, and Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative at the UN Dr. Palitha Kohona.
Policy Research and Information Unit
25 September 2010