Speaker Karu Jayasuriya addresses the IPU Assembly in Geneva

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Leading a high-level Sri Lankan Parliamentary delegation to the 135th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) being held from 23-27 October 2016 in Geneva, Hon. Karu Jayasuriya, Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka addressed the General Debate this morning (25 October 2016). The theme of this year’s debate was ‘Human Rights abuses as precursors of conflict: Parliaments as early responders.’

Sri Lanka delegation included Hon. Nimal Siripala De Silva, M.P., Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, Hon. Vijitha Herath, M.P., Hon. (Mrs.) Rohini Kumari Wijeratne, M.P., Hon. Velu Kumar, M.P. and Mr. Dhammika Dasanayake, Secretary-General of Parliament.

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IOM to extend assistance to Sri Lanka in training and capacity building

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The International Organization on Migration (IOM) has expressed readiness to further enhance its assistance to Sri Lanka, by providing training and capacity building support for the Ministries of Foreign Employment and Foreign Affairs, and to the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau (SLBFE). It was agreed to extend cooperation in the areas of countering human trafficking and people smuggling operations, providing short-term internship opportunities with the IOM for the relevant officials as well as supporting the upgrading of the consular services of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The IOM also pledged to continue technical and secretarial support for the Colombo Process (CP) - the regional consultative forum of contractual labour originating countries in Asia, currently chaired by Sri Lanka. 

These assurances were given when Minister of Foreign Employment Thalatha Atukorale who was in Geneva last week to attend the 6th Global Meeting of Chairs and Secretaries of Regional Consultative Processes on Migration met with the Director General of IOM Ambassador William Lacy Swing, to discuss and follow up progress on Sri Lanka’s bilateral cooperation with the IOM. Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha, Deputy Permanent Representative Samantha Jayasuriya, Counsellor Shashika Somaratne, and Acting Deputy General Manager of the Foreign Employment Bureau D.G.G.S. Yapa, were associated with the Minister.

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Minister Thalatha Atukorale says “Colombo Process will seek to be a bridge between labour sending and receiving countries in Asia”

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The Minister of Foreign Employment Thalatha Atukorale, who is also the Chair in Office of the Colombo Process (CP), the regional consultative forum of contractual labour originating countries in Asia has said, Sri Lanka is providing leadership for the CP to be a bridge between labour sending and receiving countries fostering strong partnership for the Asian region. She said “the CP will soon agree on the role it can play in supporting the overall implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to migration with a specific focus on contractual labour migrants”, “benefitting from the experience of having worked on issues such as ethical labour recruitment, migrant health and remittances over the past 2 years.” The Minister said “in the forthcoming negotiations on developing the ‘Global Compact on Migration by 2018’ the CP should be ready to engage constructively, building on the SDGs framework.”

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UNHCR pledges to continue to work with Sri Lanka

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The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filipo Grandi, has said the UNHCR “will continue to work on, the return of those Sri Lankans that wants to return, solutions for internally displaced people and commendable work that the Government is doing for the statelessness”. The High Commissioner made this observation, in response to the national statement of Sri Lanka delivered by Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha, at the 67th Session of the Executive Committee of the UNHCR, held in Geneva this week.

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Sri Lanka accedes to the Marrakesh Treaty to increase access to books, magazines and other printed materials for persons with print disabilities

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Sri Lanka on Wednesday ( 5 October 2016) became the 24th country to accede to the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled. Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, handed over the instrument of accession to the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Dr. Francis Gurry, during the ongoing 56th Series of Meetings of Assemblies of the Member States of WIPO, 3-11 October 2016 in Geneva.

More than 75 WIPO member states have signed the Treaty, which entered into force on 30 September 2016, 3 months following the ratification of the 20th country. The Marrakesh Treaty is envisaged to facilitate the availability of published works in accessible formats for the people who are blind, visually impaired, and print disabled. – such as Braille - through limitations and exceptions to the rights of copyright right holders. The Treaty is also designed to provide assurances to authors and publishers that their published works will not be misused or distribution to anyone other than the intended beneficiaries.

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Director General of WHO commends President Sirisena for advancing the health sector in Sri Lanka

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Director General of the World Health Organsiation Dr. Margaret Chan commended the efforts made by the President Maithripala Sirisena in his capacity as the former Minister of Health in advancing the health sector in Sri Lanka. The Director General made these remarks at a side –event on Non – Communicable Diseases (NCDs) which was attended by President Sirisena on the side – lines of his visit to the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly on 22nd September 2016.

The event which was co –hosted by the Government of Russia and the World Health Organisation(WHO) launched the Friends of the United –Nations Inter – Agency Task Force on prevention and control of NCDs initiative and provided an overview of the current work of the Task Force, showcasing action at country level, discuss on supporting Member States to achieve the NCD-related Sustainable Development Goals, and outlining a number of global joint programmes that now require funding in order to become operational.

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Sri Lanka committed to see expedited transformation into sustainable development

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Sri Lanka as the current Chair of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development, is committed to see expedited transformation into sustainable development. In our own country, a National Sustainable Development Act in conformity with the SDGs is scheduled to be tabled in the Parliament soon. The objective of this new Act is to formulate a National Policy and Strategy on Sustainable Development and to provide the necessary legal and institutional framework for developing and implementing it.

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Sri Lanka’s Statement on the Report by the Working Group on Enforced Disappearances

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Please find attached the full statement of the Government of Sri Lanka delivered by Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva and the Leader of the Sri Lanka Delegation to the 33rd Session of the Human Rights Council.

This Statement was made during the Clustered Interactive Dialogue with the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) held today (15 September 2016) following, the statement by the Chair Rapporteur of the Working Group presenting the report on its visit to Sri Lanka from 9 – 18 November 2015.

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UN Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW) considers report of Sri Lanka

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Consideration of the Second Periodic Report of Sri Lanka under the Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW) took place at the 25th Session of the Committee on Migrant Workers, held at the Palais Wilson in Geneva, today (1 September 2016). Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva and Leader of the Sri Lanka delegation introduced the report.

The Sri Lanka delegation to the review included Mr. G.S. Witanage, Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Employment, Mr. C.A.H.M. Wijeratne, Senior Director General (Legal), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Samantha Jayasuriya, Deputy Permanent Representative Sri Lanka , Mr. W.M.V. Wanasekara, Additional General Manager, Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau, Mr. Gamini Rathnayake, Director, Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau, Ms. Dilini Gunasekera, Second Secretary, Ms. M.L.F. Mafusa, Second Secretary, Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka and Mrs. Sarasi De Silva, Attaché/Documentation & Research of the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka.

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Colombo Process Ministerial Declaration Sets New Goals for the Group

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The Fifth Ministerial Consultations of the Colombo Process (CP) has decided to explore cooperation in the operationalization of the migration related goals in the SDGs, work towards promoting the health of migrant workers throughout the migration cycle, to focus on consular support for migrant workers and to promote equality for women migrant workers. 
 
These new thematic priorities for the group were elaborated in the ‘Colombo Process Ministerial Declaration’ adopted in Colombo on 25th August 2016, under the Chairmanship of Hon. Thalatha Athukorale, Minister of Foreign Employment and Chair in Office of the Colombo Process. Mr. G.S. Withanage, Secretary/Ministry of Foreign Employment, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN, Mrs. Samantha Jayasuriya, Deputy Permanent Representative and Ambassador William Lacy Swing, Director General/IOM and Ms. Nicoletta Giordano, Head/International Partnership Division of the IOM  were associated with Minister Athukorale in the adoption . 
 

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Ambassador Aryasinha details tangible achievements of Sri Lanka's Chairmanship of the Colombo Process

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Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva and Chair of the Geneva-based Colombo Process Member States Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha presenting a report of the Fourth Senior Officials’ Meeting of the Colombo Process Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 24 August 2016 has detailed the tangible achievements of Sri Lanka's Chairmanship of the Colombo Process over the past 3 years. 

Ambassador Aryasinha said the group had defied the conventional wisdom that the Colombo Process countries, in most instances being competitors, many of the issues that they had to grapple with were beyond the capacity of leveraging as a Group and that it must necessarily be a zero-sum-game. Under the theme   "International Labour Migration for Prosperity: Adding Value by Working Together", Sri Lanka's 'road map' for its period of Chairmanship had taken on 5 of the toughest issues related to labour migration - qualification recognition, ethical recruitment, pre-departure orientation, Promoting Cheaper, Faster & Safer Transfer of Remittances, and enhancing the  capacities of the Colombo Process participating countries to track labour market trends. The Colombo Process Technical Support Unit (CPTSU) had also been set up in Colombo in 2015 to support CP goals. The CP had also sought to strengthen engagement between CP countries and countries of destination, particularly the GCC countries, and also the EU countries.
 

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Two Sri Lankan students participate for the first time in the CERN Summer Student Programme

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For the first time, two Sri Lankan undergraduate students participated in the 2016 Summer Student Programme at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, the most prominent particle physics research institute in the world. Mr. Gamage Gihan Lakmal, a graduate from the Faculty of Science of the University of Ruhuna and Mr. Malinda Shiram de Silva, a final year undergraduate from the Faculty of Science of the University of Colombo, completed their two month programme last week. The Sri Lankan students were selected on merit by CERN, following a funding arrangement negotiated by the Permanent Mission, where CERN provides financial assistance for one student and the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) funds the other student.

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Foreign Minister inaugurates Colombo Process Ministerial Meeting

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Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera on Thursday (25 August 2016) inaugurated the 5th Ministerial Meeting of the Colombo Process (CP) at the Galle Face Hotel.  Sri Lanka is the current chair of the CP and accordingly Foreign Employment Minister Thalatha Athukorale chaired the ministerial meeting as the incumbent chairperson. Director General of the Geneva based International Organization for Migration (IOM) Ambassador William Swing also officiated in the ceremony.

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Work on first Sri Lanka Innovation Index begins

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Work on Sri Lanka’s national Innovation Index set to measure the Lankan innovation portfolio, began in Colombo Tuesday.
 
“In view of the rapidly expanding knowledge-driven global trade and economic activities, Intellectual Property (IP) has acquired a very important status,” Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen said addressing the inauguration of the National Level Innovation and Intellectual Property Policy Conference.
 

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Sri Lanka supports convening conference in 2017 to negotiate a legally – binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons

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Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha expressing concern on the slow progress made over the decades on international multilateral nuclear disarmament efforts, has affirmed Sri Lanka’s support for the convening of a conference in 2017, to negotiate a legally – binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination. Sri Lanka further noted that the agreement on such a negotiation would ensure the fulfillment of the wish of the UN membership at large.


He made these observations during an intervention by Sri Lanka at the third and final session of the General Assembly mandated Open – Ended Working Group (OEWG) on Taking Forward Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations, held in Geneva last week. During its final plenary meeting held on 19th August 2016, the Group adopted the report by vote, and recommend to the General Assembly to convene a Conference in 2017, to negotiate a legally – binding instrument, to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination. The recommendation, which will be assessed by the General Assembly, is seen as a significant step towards nuclear disarmament.

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Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination considers report of Sri Lanka

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Consideration of the 10th-17th Periodic Reports of Sri Lanka under the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) was held on 15th  -16th August 2016 at the Palais Wilson. Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva introduced the report.

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UNITAR and the Group of Fifteen in Geneva sign a Framework for Cooperation

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4 July 2016, Geneva, Switzerland - A Framework of Cooperation between the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the Group of Fifteen (G-15), a grouping of developing countries focused on South-South cooperation, was signed on 4th July, 2016 in Geneva.

Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, Chairman of the Personal Representatives of the Heads of State and Government of the G-15 and the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in Geneva signed the Agreement on behalf of the G-15 while Mr. Nikhil Seth, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director, signed on behalf of UNITAR.

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Statement by Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera to the 32nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council

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Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mangala Samaraweera, leader of the Sri Lanka delegation, addressed the 32nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council at the presentation of the Oral Update on the Implementation of the HRC Resolution A/HRC/RES/30/1 by the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, today (29 June 2016).

Hon. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, Minister of Justice and Buddha Sasana, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva,Mr. Mano Tittawella, Secretary General, Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms (SCRM) and other senior officials of the Government of Sri Lanka were associated with the Minister.

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Foreign Minister Meets High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein

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Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mangala Samaraweera, met UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein at the Palais Wilson in Geneva on 29 June 2016.

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Briefing on “Recent Developments in Sri Lanka” held on the sidelines of HRC 32

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Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, Minister of Justice and Buddha Sasana, Mr. Mano Tittawella, Secretary General Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms (SCRM) and other government officials briefed members of civil society and Permanent Missions at a side event on ‘Recent Developments in Sri Lanka’ on the sidelines of the 32nd Session of the Human Rights Council held at the Palais des Nations on 28 June 2016.

H.E. Mr. Ravinatha Aryasinha, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva moderated the event.

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Spicing up Development Assistance to Sri Lanka

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Delivering the keynote address at a Briefing Session organized by the Standard and Trade Development Facility (STDF) Division of WTO held on 21st June 2016 to share Sri Lanka’s experience on the Cinnamon Development Project Assistance, R.D.S. Kumararatne, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the World Trade Organization highlighted on how technical and funding assistance from international agencies such as WTO, UNIDO, ITC and WIPO are important for small economies such as Sri Lanka in sustaining performance in the spices sector in the country. 
 
In his keynote speech, Ambassador Kumararatne highlighted the uniqueness of Ceylon Cinnamon, known as true cinnamon or queen of spices is the oldest planting crop in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka supplies over 80% of world Ceylon Cinnamon requirements. Mexico accounts for over 60% of the market while the rest consists of markets such as USA, EU, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala, etc. Sri Lanka supplies its cinnamon products to over 70 countries in the world. He further elaborated on multi-faceted sector development that requires interventions at various levels to achieve targeted social and economic outcomes. Driven by a common vision, "making cinnamon a one billion dollar industry", The Spice Council (TSC) and the Government of Sri Lanka received support from the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) of WTO and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to analyse the cinnamon value chain and identify the necessary interventions to translate this vision into reality.
 

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Sri Lanka remains committed to ensure the Right to Development through its national development policies

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Sri Lanka said that it remains committed to ensure the Right to Development through its national development policies. Owing to Sri Lanka’s long history of consistent investments in health, education and poverty alleviation programmes, the country has succeeded in achieving some targets in relation to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), ahead of schedule.

Sri Lanka made these observations during the Panel discussion on the promotion and protection of the Right to Development Commemoration of the 30th Anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development in the sidelines of the 32nd Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva from 13 June – 1 July 2016.

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South Centre and Group of Fifteen (G-15) Secretariats strengthen cooperation

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Martin Khor, Executive Director of the South Centre, and H.E. Ravinatha Aryasinha, Chairman of the Personal Representatives of the Heads of State and Government of the Group of Fifteen (G-15), witness the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the South Centre, represented by Mr. Vicente Yu, Head of Administration, and the Group of Fifteen, represented by Mr. Gihan Indraguptha, Head of Office, in Geneva, 16 June 2016.
 
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the South Centre and the Group of 15 Secretariats in Geneva on 16 June 2016.
 
The signing of the MoU of cooperation between the South Centre and the G-15 Secretariats is intended to promote the work of both institutions in the strengthening of the capacity of developing countries to better articulate their interests and perspectives in multilateral, regional and national forums.

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Minister Seneviratne briefs the International Labour Conference on Sri Lanka’s efforts towards Decent Work Programme

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Addressing the 105th Session of the International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva on 09th June 2016, Minister of Labour and Trade Union Relations W.D.J. Seneviratne has elaborated on the initiatives made by Sri Lanka on the ‘Decent Work Programme’, including the “historical initiative of ‘National Minimum Wages Act No. 3 of 2016’ by which for the first time in the country a mandatory national monthly minimum wage was fixed payable to all workers by all employers in the country”.
 
While commending the initiatives taken by the ILO and its constituents towards the implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Minister Seneviratne appreciated the assistance extended by the  ILO country office to Sri Lanka in a number of areas including the formulation of a National Labour Migration Policy for Sri Lanka; National Road Map for Youth Employment; Livelihood recovery and employment creation in conflict and disaster affected areas; automation of Labour Administration System;  promoting fundamental principles and Rights at Work in Export Processing Zones (EPZ); translation of International Labour Standards in to Domestic Courts through Labour Tribunal and Affiliate  Jurisdiction.
 

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Sri Lanka ratifies the Trade Facilitation Agreement with the World Trade Organization (WTO)

Sri Lanka ratify trade facilitation agreement


Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the WTO in Geneva Ambassador R.D.S. Kumararatne has presented to Mr. Roberto Azevêdo, Director-General of WTO the Instrument of Acceptance of the Protocol on Trade Facilitation on 31st May 2016. Sri Lanka is the 81st Member to deposit its Instrument of Acceptance with the WTO on the ratification of Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of the WTO. Once the two-third (108) of the current membership deposits its Instrument of Acceptance, the Agreement will come into effect.

The Trade Facilitation Agreement is expected to significantly benefit global trade while delivering support particularly to developing and least developed countries. The full implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement will achieve trade cost reduction and global economic growth. The developing and least developed countries of the WTO will enjoy implementation flexibilities and assistance.

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Minister Senaratne draws attention of the World Health Assembly to the recent floods in Sri Lanka

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Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Dr Rajitha Senaratne on Tuesday (24 May 2016) drew the attention of the 69th World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting in Geneva to the recent floods and landslides in Sri Lanka that affected nearly half a million people and appreciated the expression of solidarity and support by countries, partners and the World Health Organization (WHO), to strengthen the timely health response to the affected people.

Addressing the Assembly under this years’ theme, “Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development “, Minister Senaratne stated that “the Government of Sri Lanka is fully committed to the Sustainable Development Agenda and has already set up a multi sectoral Sustainable Development Secretariat to achieve this goal”. Drawing attention to the increasing influx of migration, Minister highlighted the need to pay attention to the health of migrants, irrespective of their status of migration. In this context, he recalled the offer made by the President of Sri Lanka to host the second Global Consultation on Health of Migrants in Sri Lanka October this year, and stated that Sri Lanka is envisaging a political declaration as the outcome of the Global Consultation to demonstrate the commitment to this important issue.

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