Statement by Her Excellency Himalee Arunatilaka, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in Geneva at the 56th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council

21.06.2024 11.46.52 REC

Interactive Dialogue 56 hrc

 GoSL Statement

56th Session of the Human Rights Council:

Interactive Dialogue on the Annual Report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

 19 June 2024

Mr. President,

The statement by the High Commissioner refers to challenging human rights situations throughout the world. We share the serious concerns expressed by many delegations at the immense loss of life and suffering we continue to witness in the Gaza.


Sri Lanka continues to address and strengthen ongoing efforts to promote post conflict reconciliation and human rights through domestic processes established within the constitutional framework.

Consultations on the draft Truth, Unity, and Reconciliation Commission bill continues, allowing ample time for public input before it is tabled in Parliament. Several consultations have taken place with stakeholders including Members of Parliament representing all political parties including the Northern and the Eastern Provinces and civil society.

Demonstrating significant public trust in the Office on Missing Persons (OMP), 5,556 out of 6,025 complainants appeared before the OMP. By April 2024, the OMP traced 16 missing persons, confirming 11 alive, 1 deceased, with 4 cases pending before the Court. Further, 1,709 families received Certificates of Absence (CoA), with the validity extended until 2028. The OMP collaborates with the ICRC to obtain technical assistance in data collection, protection and management and legal and forensic expertise.

The Office for Reparations (OR) has granted approximately 2.1 billion LKR to 7,347 families from 2023 to end of May 2024 and continues to implement several projects to provide psychosocial support for aggrieved communities.

The Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR) has been further strengthened by an Act of Parliament whereby it now functions as an independent institution.

The Interim Secretariat on the Truth and Reconciliation Mechanism (ISTRM) has held 65 consultations and conducted visits to the Northern and Eastern Provinces in December 2023 and January 2024 respectively, to engage stakeholders regarding the draft bill.

A draft bill will be presented for the establishment of the Office for Overseas Sri Lankan Affairs (OOSLA), which has made progress in facilitating mutually beneficial engagement between the Sri Lankan government and overseas Sri Lankans.

Launched on 5 February 2024, the Urumaya Programme focuses on empowering over 2 million people from all communities and regions by granting land ownership. Over 1000 freehold deeds were distributed in Jaffna, Kilinochchi and Vavuniya districts in May 2024.

Mr. President,

The challenging human rights situations throughout the world must be assessed with impartiality, non-selectivity, objectivity and avoiding double standards in keeping with the founding principles of this Council. Sri Lanka strongly opposes arbitrary and unilateral action which is contrary to these principles. Exceeding the mandate given by Member States to the OHCHR and politicization could lead to erosion of confidence in the work of the OHCHR.

Sri Lanka rejects the external evidence-gathering mechanism established by HRC resolution 46/1 and extended by resolution 51/1 and re-iterates that it has wide-ranging legal and political implications for all countries. It is unhelpful and only serves to divide and further polarize communities in Sri Lanka, with no tangible benefit. It also prejudges the commitment of domestic legal processes. It is a drain on scarce resources of Member States.

An important aspect of the Government´s economic recovery is the targeted measures towards the poor and vulnerable communities in order to ensure their wellbeing through the provision of essential supplies. This is reflected in the social safety nets initiatives including the Aswesuma cash transfer programme and through several other social welfare measures.

Sri Lanka welcomes the progress reported by China at the recent 4th cycle of its UPR review. We note the enormous progress made by China in uplifting the lives of the Chinese people which enhances the meaningful realization of their economic, social, civil and political rights.  

Sri Lanka remains an active participant in the multilateral framework and will continue to work with international partners to enhance the quality of life of all its peoples.

I thank you, Mr. President.

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