Statement by Sri Lanka during the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to development at the 45th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

16 sep 2020 right to dev
45th Session of the Human Rights Council

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to development

16 September 2020

Statement by Sri Lanka

Madam President, 

Sri Lanka thanks the Special Rapporteur (SR) on the Right to Development for his thematic report (A/HRC/45/15) on “financing for development”. We appreciate the activities undertaken by him during the past year in furtherance of the mandate.

The current report of the SR is being presented to this Council at a time when the world continues to grapple with an unprecedented global crisis in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic, which, in addition to challenging the health and safety of millions, has threatened to stymie if not reverse many hard-earned gains of developing countries in delivering on the 2030 sustainable development agenda. In this regard, we welcome the SR’s call to governments and international financial institutions, in April 2020, to remain true to their commitment under the 2030 agenda and to the promise “to leave no one behind” in their response to the COVID crisis. We echo the SR’s grave concerns regarding the profound impact that the pandemic will have on financing for development, and look forward to his report to the General Assembly which would examine the effects of the pandemic from the perspective the right to development.

Madam President,

We agree that, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, States faced significant challenges in mobilizing resources to finance development and implementing the right to development. While there have been several UN led processes resulting in a broad international framework, comprising inter alia the 1986 Declaration on the Right to Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris Agreement as well as the adoption of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the realization of the goals set out in these policy frameworks needs comprehensive national efforts backed by genuine international cooperation. 

As mentioned in the report, official development assistance (ODA) remains critical in financing for development, and it is rather unfortunate that despite many commitments made to supporting developing nations, contributions in this regard have declined over the past few years, and are likely to further dwindle in the aftermath of COVID-19.

Madam President,

Sri Lanka remains committed to ensuring the Right to Development through its national development policies and programs. With its long history of consistent investments in health, education and poverty alleviation, Sri Lanka has been successful in achieving high socio-economic standards through free and universal health care, free education, access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities, near universal electrification, and an increased share of population living in permanent houses. 

Sri Lanka continues to achieve commendable progress with regard to human development and the country is ranked the highest in South Asia according to the UN Human Development Report 2019. Our life expectancy and education indices have risen in the past year, and in a remarkable achievement, Sri Lanka was declared free of measles and rubella by the World Health Organisation recently, even as measles continues to be on the rise globally.

Sri Lanka is committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. Towards this end, a people-centric national policy and a programme of action to achieve Sustainable Development have been prepared with the intention of making Sri Lanka one of the world’s leading nations in achieving the SDGs. As stated by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in his policy statement at the opening session of the new Parliament on 20 August the vision of the Government will be based on achieving the “four-fold outcome of a productive citizenry; a contented family, a disciplined, a just society and a prosperous nation”.

Within a short period of 9 months, a number of measures have been initiated in this direction, even as the country was battling COVID-19 to emerge as one of the few success stories in tackling the pandemic. These measures initiated by the Government include: building a production economy by supporting the agricultural sector and the farmers, incentivising local industries and entrepreneurs, providing lands to the landless, further improving access to safe drinking water, enhancing access to quality education by creating more opportunities as well as improving physical and human resources at schools, enhancing facilities and staff in rural hospitals and access to medicine by manufacturing medicines locally, short and long term solutions to youth unemployment, development of urban and rural infrastructure facilities finding solutions to the issue of housing for the people, and promoting renewable energy sources.

Madam President,

We appreciate and call for further strengthening of efforts to this effect within this Council, particularly in the context of the right to development being an all-encompassing corner stone of all key human rights instruments. We also take this opportunity to welcome the ongoing work of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Right to Development and the SR’s continuing engagement with the Working Group. 

In conclusion, Madam President, we wish the SR success in his work and look forward to continuing our constructive engagement with him in the future.

Thank you.

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