Statement by Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana at 37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, 21 March 2018

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Statement by

Hon. Tilak Marapana, PC., MP

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka



Agenda item 2
37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council
Geneva, 21 March 2018
Mr. President,
Madam Deputy High Commissioner,
Distinguished Delegates,
It is an honour for me to be here today at the 37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council representing the Government of Sri Lanka.

I am joined today by my Cabinet colleagues, the Minister of Special Assignments, Hon. (Dr) Sarath Amunugama, and the Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government, Hon. Faiszer Musthapha. My colleagues and I represent the two main political parties that form the coalition government. We are here before this Council together in unison, to speak with one voice, demonstrating the Government’s firm commitment to the advancement of reconciliation, the rule of law, good governance, human rights, justice, equality, and dignity for all our citizens, based on the 100 Day Programme on which President Maithripala Sirisena was elected in January 2015.

Mr. President,

We would like to express our sincere appreciation to the High Commissioner, the Deputy High Commissioner and the staff of the OHCHR for their consistent and constructive engagement with Sri Lanka, the invaluable technical support extended to us, and for their support and encouragement at all times.

Mr. President,

We do not consider the reconciliation process in our country as a box-ticking exercise. We are deeply committed to uphold the rule of law and to ensure the equal protection of the law to all individuals without discrimination as guaranteed under the Constitution of Sri Lanka. We also recognize that we owe our citizens equitable socio-economic development, which can only become possible through the establishment of durable peace and reconciliation. We are making every effort, therefore, Mr. President, despite the socio-political and economic constraints and challenges that we face, to realize our vision of a reconciled, peaceful, stable and prosperous Sri Lanka for all our citizens. In this context, and in response to the High Commissioner’s observations on progress made by Sri Lanka thus far, we wish to place on record our most important achievements since Sri Lanka last addressed this Council at the 34th Session on 28th February 2017. Much progress has been made throughout the course of last year as well as previously, demonstrating Sri Lanka’s firm commitment, willingness and ability to advancing truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence of conflict.

We are mindful, Mr. President, that the reconciliation, judicial and reparation processes are for all affected communities irrespective of race, religion, and gender, including the families of missing security forces personnel.

On Sri Lanka’s Independence Day in February 2015, just a few weeks after President Maithripala Sirisena was elected, the Government made a formal Declaration of Peace, which said Terrorism and violence have ended. The time and space required for healing and building sustainable peace and security for all is upon us. It is now for us to seize this opportunity to ensure that the fruits of democracy and citizenship can be equitably enjoyed by all. Mr. President, this continues to be our vision – of all our citizens united, irrespective of ethnicity and religion, working together, overcoming the legacy of tragic conflict and guiding our nation towards durable peace and prosperity.

Mr. President,

As you are aware, the action by the Sri Lankan security forces during the conflict was against a group designated as a terrorist group by many countries, and not against any community in our country. The operations of the terrorist group, which for the first time in recent history have deliberately targeted innocent civilians have now been adopted by terrorist groups all over the world. All communities in Sri Lanka were united against terrorism in my country, and now that terrorism has been defeated, all communities today work in unison towards reconciliation and economic progress of the country.

Mr. President,

A comprehensive list that demonstrates the progress Sri Lanka has made in the advancement and protection of human rights, reconciliation, and good governance since January 2015 to-date has been distributed to all members of the Council. I will therefore set out some of the most important steps we have taken.


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