Colombo, Sri Lanka – A two-day Senior Officials’ Meeting of the Colombo Process (CP) held in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 4-5 November 2015 has resulted in far reaching concrete decisions and recommendations aimed at advancing collective efforts for safe and skilled labour migration management by sending countries in Asia. These include the setting up of a Colombo Process Technical Support Unit (CP TSU) in Colombo, to provide support to all the CP countries in pursuing the goals and actions set in the current thematic priorities of the CP and any other areas that the CP would agree to in the future.
Hon. Ms. Thalatha Atukorale, Minister of Foreign Employment of Sri Lanka and Chair-in-Office of the Colombo Process delivering the key note address emphasized the importance of migrant workers’ contributions to economic development in both home and host countries. She reiterated Sri Lanka's commitment as CP Chair-in-Office to work towards the well being of all migrant workers of Asia, and to leverage the support of other Regional Migration Processes, as well as regional and international groups of nations and civil societies to achieve this goal.
Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha, has said the Colombo Process (CP) countries have shown that being competitors for the same markets and competing national interests has not stood in the way of collective action, and that contrary to conventional wisdom, cooperation in the field of migration must not necessarily be a ‘zero-sum-game’.
Ambassador Aryasinha, speaking in his capacity as the Chair of the Geneva-based CP Member States at the Senior Officials Meeting of the CP which opened in Colombo on 4 November 2015, noted the effective collaboration and action-oriented role of the CP to develop concrete actions and deliverables. Sri Lanka’s chairmanship of the CP over the past two years has focused on five thematic areas: Qualification and skills recognition processes, Fostering ethical recruitment, Effective pre-departure orientation and empowerment, Reducing the costs of remittance transfer, Enhancing capacities of the Colombo Process Member States to track labour market trends. He said during Sri Lanka’s chairmanship, beyond the tangible results from the identified areas for cooperation, the CP had also strengthened its operational modalities, worked towards self funding, and also enhanced cooperation with other groups, including with the ADD, the EU through the Asia-EU Dialogue and the GFMD.
Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha said that in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are incorporated into the Development Agenda, migration cuts across several aspects of development, including improving the quality of human mobility through well managed migration policies; displacement among issues related to peaceful and inclusive societies and Disaster Risk reduction; address trafficking in a comprehensive manner and action by Finance for Development Action Agenda which deals with remittances. Ambassador Aryasinha made this observation in his opening remarks while he moderated the Session on ‘Reflecting on the outcomes of the 2013 UN high level dialogue on international migration and development with a view to implementation of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development’ of the Fifth Global Meeting of Chairs and Secretariats of Regional Consultative Processes on Migration (RCPs) held on 21st October 2015 in Cairo, Egypt.
Ambassador Aryasinha commended the significant role played by the IOM in actively contributing to the process of formulating the Post-2015 Development Agenda by advocating for migration to be recognized as an essential component of any future development framework and of national development policies and plans.
Initiatives for migrants from the Asian region taken under Sri Lanka's Chairmanship of the Colombo Process (CP) was commended at the Fifth Global Meeting of Chairs and Secretaries of Regional Consultative Processes on Migration (RCPs), held in Cairo, Egypt, 21-22 October 2015.
Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha addressed the 55th Series of Meetings of the Assemblies of Member States of WIPO on 5 October 2015 in Geneva.
Director General of the National Intellectual Property Office of Sri Lanka, Mrs. Geethanjali Ranawaka and Second Secretary Ms. Dilini Gunasekera also participated in this session.
Sri Lanka participated in the general debate held under Item 3 regarding the Report of the Intergovernmental Working Group on Right to Development at the 30th Session of the Human Right Council in Geneva on 17 September 2015.
Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha today outlined Sri Lanka’s view on the current draft resolution being considered at the 30th Session of the Human Rights Council during the first informal held at the Palais des Nations.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mangala Samaraweera addressed the 30th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, in his capacity as the leader of the Sri Lanka delegation today (14th September 2015) in Geneva.
Hon. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, Minister of Justice and Buddha Sasana, Hon. Austin Fernando, Governor - Eastern Province and Adviser to H.E. the President, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva and senior officials of the Government of Sri Lanka participated in the opening meeting.
The Group of Fifteen (G-15), a Summit level organisation of developing countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean, currently chaired by Sri Lanka has taken an initiative to expand the dialogue between developing countries and Geneva based International Organisations regarding the Post-2015 development Agenda. The year 2015 is considered as a milestone in human development with the United Nations scheduled to endorse the future global development framework that will succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) formulated in the year 2000.
Sri Lanka and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) have entered into an agreement to begin cooperation between CERN and the scientific community in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka‘s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha and the Director General of CERN, Mr. Rolf-Dieter Heurer, signed an “Expression of Interest’ (EOI) Agreement on Thursday, 25 June 2015 at the CERN Headquarters in Geneva to give effect to this process.
CERN is the most prominent particle physics research institute in the world and is best known for its flagship discovery of the ‘Higgs-Boson” in 2012, conferring the 2013 Nobel Prize for Physics to two theoretical physicists who had predicted this fundamental particle almost 50 years earlier. More than half of the world’s particle physicists - about 11,000 in number coming from over 600 universities in 80 countries - do research at CERN, and are engaged in complex scientific experiments.
The newly appointed Sri Lanka Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Mr. R.D.S. Kumararatne, formally Director General of Commerce of the Department of Commerce presented his credentials to the Director General of the World Trade Organization Mr. Roberto Azevêdo on 15th June 2015.
At the presentation of credentials, Ambassador Kumararatne had the opportunity of exchanging views with the Head of the WTO on wide range of subject matters of interest to Sri Lanka. While briefing on current economic and political developments taking place in Sri Lanka, he has emphasised on the possible technical assistance of the WTO to enhance the capacity of the relevant institutions. He also highlighted the progress that Sri Lanka has made in connection with the implementation of Trade Facilitation Agreement of the WTO and briefed on the initiatives taken by Sri Lanka to introduce single portal to facilitate import export trade. In this regard, he has sought technical and possible funding assistance for the launch of the single portal by the Sri Lanka.
Minister of Labour S.B. Navinne addressed the 104th Session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva on 05 June 2015 and highlighted the importance of formulating policies and strategies to achieve decent work for all employees to ensure social justice. In this regard, Minister Navinne stated that Sri Lanka has taken steps to establish a “National Minimum Wage” for all private sector workers.
Minister Navinne appreciated the assistance extended by ILO to Sri Lanka in number of areas including the formulation of National Human Resources and Employment Policy, National Road Map of Youth Employment, HIV & AIDS policy for the world of work, the National Strategy on Territory, Vocational Education & Provision for Vulnerable People in Sri Lanka, implementation of Labour Inspection System Application, and the elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour through the implementation of Child Labour Free Zones.
Dr. Margaret Chan, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) has said "“Pictorial warning is the most cost effective means of controlling tobacco related Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs), including cancer “, and that "countries can get return on their investment in multiple areas". Paying tribute to countries including Sri Lanka whom she said "had the courage to keep going despite heavy resistance by the tobacco industry", Dr. Chan said "without our joint effort, you know what effect tobacco would take. We should not allow an industry to intimidate governments, make money and leave you with all the health consequences". She urged that "the international community come together to fight the tobacco industry".
Dr. Chan made these observations when she inaugurated a session on the theme “Strategies to overcome resistance against pictorial warning messages in tobacco products”, hosted by Sri Lanka on the sidelines of the 68th World Health Assembly at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on Monday (25th May 2015).
Minister of Health and Indigenous Medicine Dr Rajitha Senartne today (19 May 2015) addressed the 68th World Health Assembly held in Geneva and highlighted the progress Sri Lanka has made in achieving the Millennium Development Goals and universal health coverage, particularly with respect to Maternal & Child Health and the control of communicable diseases.
Highlighting the health scenario in the country he said that under the guidance of President Maithripala Sirisena, the country is poised to enter a new phase of health development and pointed out that the health burden of the country is now moving more towards non communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular, respiratory neoplasm and diabetes, which account to over 70% of deaths.