Introductory Remarks by Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera to Address by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
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Introductory Remarks by
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, MP.,
to Address by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
organized by the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute
Colombo, 1 September 2016
His Excellency Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations
Madam Ban Soon-taek
Ladies and Gentlemen
The first Prime Minister of Sri Lanka to address the UN General Assembly since Sri Lanka was granted membership in the United Nations in 1955, Hon. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, articulated our intentions as a member of the UN, as follows:
“This is an Organisation which expresses itself most effectively by bringing to bear a certain moral force – the collective moral force and decency of human beings. That is a task in which the weak as well as the strong can render a useful service, and I give the assembly the assurance, on behalf of my country, that as far as we are concerned, every endeavour that we can make in all sincerity to assist in the achievements of those noble ideas for which this Organisation stands, will always be forthcoming in the fullest measure.”
Since joining the United Nations, Sri Lanka has contributed in numerous ways to the UN system including its norm setting process. Just five years since becoming a Member, Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, was elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Many distinguished Sri Lankans have served with distinction at the United Nations and have held important positions in the UN and its agencies. Our diplomats have chaired important conferences such as the Law of the Sea Conference and presided over the General Assembly, and the Security Council, as well as numerous other UN Ministerial level Meetings.
However, the long years of conflict that plagued our country saw us veer away at times, from the path of giving effect to that moral voice. Following the end of conflict in 2009, Sri Lanka tread a path that was unfamiliar to many of us; even quarrelling with the United Nations Organisation itself. But the winds of change began to sweep across our nation on the 8th of January 2015, when the people of our country, staying true to their legacy of being Asia’s oldest democracy, took charge of their destiny and voted decisively to steer us back on course.
Today, under the leadership of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Sri Lanka stands firmly on the path of engagement and friendship with all nations; engagement and friendship with the world community; and engagement and friendship with the United Nations and its agencies, which have stood by our people and travelled with us in our journey, since Independence, both in good times and in bad.