Sri Lankan delegation holds candid talks with UN rights chief

Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana and the Sri Lankan delegation met with Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Under- Secretary General in charge of the UN Office in Geneva Michael Moller, on the side-lines of the 40th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.  

High Commissioner Bachelet having received the delegation warmly, appreciated the progress made by Sri Lanka in some of the key human rights commitments arising from HRC resolution 30/1, and reaffirmed her readiness and willingness to continue to work with Sri Lanka closely in further strengthening implementation and achieving progress through technical assistance and support in areas where such assistance was required by Sri Lanka, the Foreign Ministry said today.

The delegation comprising Hon. Dr. Sarath Amunugama, M.P., Dr. Suren Raghavan, Governor of the Northern Province, and Ravinatha Aryasinha, Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva Ambassador A.L.A. Azeez had a frank and candid discussion with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, during which perspectives on different aspects of OHCHR’s engagement with Sri Lanka were shared by the delegation.

Regarding certain information contained in the Office of the High Commissioner’s Report such as the “mass graves” in Mannar, the release of lands held by the military in the North and East and other matters, the Sri Lanka delegation emphasized the importance in compiling these reports by engaging closely with the relevant local institutions and independent bodies,including the National Human Rights Commission, in verifying facts on the ground.

At the meeting with the  UN Under- Secretary General the Foreign Minister briefed Moller on progress achieved by Sri Lanka in reconciliation, peacebuilding and development and emphasized the importance of continuing assistance by UN agencies in ongoing reconstruction, reintegration and sustainable development efforts. The Foreign Secretary and the Permanent Representative were associated with the Minister.

Appreciating Sri Lanka’s leadership in some of the key areas of UN work, Moller indicated that his office would facilitate contacts between Sri Lanka and other development partners based in Geneva to help explore joint projects to complement Sri Lanka’s national efforts at advancing socio-economic development, noting further that “Sri Lanka being a country with reasonably higher social indicators than many developing states, it could better share best practices and lessons learnt in its national development efforts with the SDG Lab maintained by the United Nations Office (UNOG) and benefit from the experiences of other countries as well.”

Responding to Sri Lanka initiative on the National Thripitake Week and the importance of Thripitake as a UNESCO heritageUnder-secretary General Moller assured the delegation that the UN Office in Geneva would extend support for holding specific activities such as library talks on traditions and cultures highlighting their significance as common heritage.

Heads and deputy heads of UN and other International Organizations based in Geneva, Ambassadors to the Human Rights Council and other representatives also had an opportunity to meet Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana and other members of his delegation at a reception organized by the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva at a venue provided courtesy the World Intellectual Property Organization. (Colombo Gazette)


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