The Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Ambassador William Lacy Swing has commended Sri Lanka on its dynamism and perseverance as the Chair of the Colombo Process (CP) which has led to numerous achievements, and steered the CP to a progressive path and to a very good future. Noting that due to its regular engagement, CP is among the strongest Global Regional Consultative Processes, Ambassador Swing commended Nepal for taking up the leadership of the process, adding that the IOM stood ready to continue supporting the Chair of the CP.
Ambassador Swing made these observations on the occasion of the transfer of the Chair of the CP, from the Government of Sri Lanka to the Government Nepal, during a meeting held at the IOM Headquarters in Geneva last week ( 29th March 2017).
Sri Lanka which assumed the CP Chair for a second time in October 2013, developed a 'road map’ which sought to strengthen engagement between CP Member States and countries of destination, under the overall theme "International Labour Migration for Prosperity: Adding Value by Working Together". Initially 5 thematic areas were identified and working groups comprising experts in each considered pragmatic ways and means on how to: promote skills qualification and recognition; foster ethical recruitment; promote pre-departure orientation and empowerment with an additional focus on migration and health; reduce the costs of remittances transfer; and track labour market trends. In August 2016 at the 5th Ministerial Meeting held in Colombo led by the CP Chair-in-Office Minister of Foreign Employment Talatha Atukorale, the CP expanded its scope by adding 4 more thematic areas, namely: enhancing consular support for migrant workers; promoting migrant health; operationalizing the migration-related goals in the SDGs; and promoting equality of women migrant workers.
The period also saw an expansion in the CP membership, and the strengthening of relations with other migration related Processes and Partners, including the Abu Dhabi Dialogue (ADD), the European Union (EU), the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) and the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants. During Sri Lanka’s stewardship the CP also strengthened the institution building process by operationalizing a self-funding mechanism and formalized the engagement among Geneva-based CP Member States to facilitate regular dialogue and work during inter-sessional periods between Senior Officials and Ministerial Meetings (SOMs).
Speaking on the occasion as the Chair of the Geneva-based CP operational platform, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinhasaid, “over the past 3 ½ years Sri Lanka had sought to build an overarching institutional architecture, to overcome the conventional wisdom, that the CP countries in most instances being competitors, were beyond the capacity of leveraging as a Group. Detailing the tangibles achieved in this period, the Ambassador said “Sri Lanka can look back with satisfaction to this period of stewardship, confident that it sought to tackle some of the most pressing issues faced by labour migrants of CP Member States ; put in place some of the best practices to mitigate and overcome their problems; developed some of the most vital linkages between the sources of supply and demand; and strengthened both the institutional and financial capacity for the CP to be better prepared for the future.” Thanking all parties that helped in ensuring the success of Sri Lanka’s period as Chair, in particular to the member states and IOM in headquarters and in the field and the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC), and assuring Nepal Sri Lanka’s support as the CP Chair, Ambassador Aryasinha noted, that Sri Lanka’s Minister of Foreign Employment Talatha Atukorale, recently assumed the Chair of the larger migration platform of Asia – the Abu Dhabi Dialogue (ADD) which brings together both migrant labour sending and receiving countries, “will no doubt be a matter of re-assurance to Member States of the CP, that Sri Lanka will continue to work for the welfare of the Asian migrant workforce with even greater vigour”.
Speaking as the incoming CP Chair, Ambassador Deepak Dhital, Nepal’s Permanent Representative in Geneva noted Nepal’s gratitude to Sri Lanka for its outstanding leadership, and said Nepal is honoured to have the opportunity to now serve as the CP Chair. Appreciating the progress and recent achievements of the CP, Ambassador Dhital also emphasized the importance of moving forward further action based on consensus of the CP member states.
The handing over ceremony was attended by Ambassadors and representatives from the Colombo Process Member States in Geneva, who thanked Sri Lanka for the meaningful achievements, made during its Chairmanship, and congratulated Nepal on assuming the leadership. The representatives of the IOM Headquarters, and Regional Office in Asia, and the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) as well as members of the Sri Lanka Mission in Geneva participated in this occasion.
The Colombo Process is a Regional Consultative Process on the management of overseas employment and contractual labour for countries of origin in Asia, which accounts for over 45 million migrants work force and the welfare of their family Members. It was initiated at the Ministerial Consultations for Asian Labour Sending Countries held in 2003 in Colombo, hence the name for this voluntary regional consultative process. The group of 12, now includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam, and has met in Manila (2004), Bali (2005), Dhaka (2011) and Colombo (2016) to review and monitor the implementation of previous recommendations and to identify areas for future actions.
Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka
31 March 2017