Mar 14, Geneva: Sri Lanka joining the general debate of the Social Forum 2019 at the 40th Session of United Nations Human Rights Council assured its unwavering commitment to resorting to sport and the Olympic ideal to promote human rights for all and to strengthen universal respect for them, as well as to promote development, peace and reconciliation.
Addressing the UNHRC assembly as the Chair of the 2018 HRC Social Forum on Wednesday Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative in Geneva Ambassador A.L.A. Azeez stressed that the Forum provided a platform for a vibrant multi-stakeholder dialogue.
He said it brought together governments, intergovernmental organizations, sports bodies, academia and the private sector, to address how best sports could be promoted as a means of empowering people while bridging divides among different segments of society.
"Sports, like diplomacy, has the potential to bring all actors beyond the immediate theatre of competition. They both encourage camaraderie and solidarity, to achieve shared objectives' stated Ambassador Azeez, stressing further 'win-win' in sports, as in diplomacy, is to remain engaged, to build and maintain momentum and to reach the finish-line of pursuit." He added "this pursuit should continue unfazed in the face of expressions of hate by any fringe elements and misinformation targeting professionals in both disciplines."
The report of the 2018 HRC Social Forum on 'Sports and Human Rights' chaired by Sri Lanka placed emphasis on bilateral and other forms of cooperation as well as inclusive approach to physical education, physical activities and sports, based on human rights values. It further stated that sports and new technologies should embed human rights by design.
"Decision-making bodies in sports and other critical areas of human activity should ensure diversity, including by promoting gender equality," Ambassador Azeez added.
Ambassador Azeez as the chair, presented the report of the 2018 Social Forum of the Human Rights Council which took place from 1st to 3rd October 2018.
Speaking in its national capacity at the General Debate, following the presentation of the Report on Social Forum by Ambassador Azeez, the delegation of Sri Lanka highlighted the power of sports and that of sports idols, in creating attitudinal changes not only among fans but within the society as a whole.
Ms. Shashika Somaratne, Minister Counsellor of the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka delivering remarks under Agenda Item 5 on 'Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms, said dividing factors such as religion and ethnicity become irrelevant in sports.
"In Sri Lanka, we bear witness to the fact that when it comes to sports other factors such as religion, ethnicity or any other field becomes irrelevant, and sports idols are considered iconic heroes by the people of Sri Lanka, as they represent the spirit of unity, reconciliation and ability to change the attitudes of their fans and the society as a whole," Ms. Somaratne said.
"We believe that sports remains a catalyst as it touches upon many human values and fundamental rights. We must make every endeavor to underpin sports, and human rights in our collective and individual efforts to realize the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development including right to development. It is a possibility within our reach in this digital era," Sri Lanka representative concluded.