July 04, Colombo: The Government of Sri Lanka says despite withdrawing from co-sponsorship of Resolution 30/1, it remains committed to achieve reconciliation, accountability and human rights, within the framework of the Sri Lankan Constitution, through a domestically designed and executed process in line with the Government’s policy framework.
Sri Lanka’s Acting Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Dayani Mendis, made these comments while delivering the statement by Sri Lanka at the Interactive Dialogue on the annual report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and her oral update on COVID-19, during the 44th Session of the Human Rights Council Thursday in Geneva.
Responding to the views expressed on 30 June by the core group on Resolution 30/1 on Sri Lanka (UK, Canada, Germany, North Macedonia and Montenegro, the envoy urged all parties to recognize the ground reality in Sri Lanka.
“We urge all parties once again to recognize the realities on the ground, and appreciate this approach of focusing on deliverable measures of reconciliation – which is backed by a people’s mandate and is in the interest of Sri Lanka and its people, instead of opting to continue with a framework driven externally that has failed to deliver genuine reconciliation for over four and half years,” she said.
The envoy assured that the Government will continue its engagement with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN Human Rights mechanisms and work in close cooperation with the international community through capacity building and technical assistance in mutually agreed areas, in keeping with domestic priorities and policies.
The statement is reproduced below in full:
44th Session of the Human Rights Council
Agenda Item 2: Interactive dialogue on the annual report of the High Commissioner
02 July 2020
Statement by Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka welcomes the presentation by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the
Annual Report of her Office for 2019.We appreciate the initiatives taken by the Office to
provide technical and financial assistance to States upon request, and highlight the need for
equitable geographical representation in the Office. In continuation of our commitment to
constructive engagement, Sri Lanka will be making a voluntary contribution of USD 5000 to
the Office of the High Commissioner in 2020.
Sri Lanka also notes the oral update provided to this Council by the High Commissioner for
Human Rights on Tuesday, on COVID-19 related human rights implications in the world. We
welcome the High Commissioner’s request for greater international solidarity in recovering
from the pandemic, especially her call to recognize a future COVID-19 vaccine as ‘a global
public good’, and the call for easing or suspension of sanctions that hinder pandemic-related
As a country that has guaranteed free universal healthcare to all its people since 1953,
through one of the highest per capita health expenditures in its region, Sri Lanka has been
able to successfully contain the spread of COVID-19 through a balanced, multi-sectoral
Swift preventive measures at the national level, a well-networked, multi-stakeholder contact
tracing mechanism, and a robust healthcare system geared towards screening / testing and
hospitalized care, have helped to ensure zero social transmission of COVID-19 in the
country since 1 May 2020. With only 11 deaths, the last being on 01 June 2020, the COVID19 fatality rate in Sri Lanka stands at 0.54%, which is significantly lower than the global
fatality rate of 4.85%, while the recovery rate in Sri Lanka stands at 83.59% higher than the
global recovery rate of 54.77%.
The approach adopted by the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) in containing the pandemic,
which has also been commended by the World Health Organisation, has been inclusive,
non-discriminatory and holistic, providing foremost importance to safeguarding the health
and safety of not only its people but foreign nationals in its territory.
The steps taken by the Government to curb the spread of the virus did not at any point
involve resort to emergency measures that would have required derogations from the exercise of fundamental freedoms, but were strictly limited to minimum temporary
restrictions on movement in the interest of public health, in accordance with the due process
of law, with the aim of protecting right across the country all sections of society during this
pandemic, which too were fully lifted on 28 June 2020.
These public health measures were accompanied by a series of policies aimed at advancing
the economic and social rights of particularly the vulnerable segments in society, such as
support for low income families, older persons, the differently-abled, day income earners,
farmers and industries, with a view to building their resilience to the effects of the pandemic.
In this regard, we recall the address by the President of Sri Lanka to the Summit of the Nonaligned Movement (NAM) on 4 May 2020, where the attention of world leaders was drawn to
the unprecedented economic and debt-related challenges arising from COVID-19, and the
consequent need for debt relief and financial stimulus for developing countries.
We appreciate that the High Commissioner has also highlighted this need in her update by
calling for debt relief and direct investments to fulfil the right to development in the post pandemic world.
At the regional level, Sri Lanka has contributed USD 5 million to the COVID-19 Emergency
Fund of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation to assist pandemic related
challenges in the region.
As the COVID-19 pandemic moves from one geographical region in the world to another, we
are increasingly reminded of the stark inequalities that exist in our global landscape, which
are often exacerbated by the effects of the pandemic. The United Nations system, including
this Council, has a pivotal role in addressing these inequalities and in ensuring that no one is
actually left behind in global efforts to overcome the COVID-19 crisis. Sri Lanka believes that
genuine dialogue and cooperation among the international community is important to
achieve this objective and we stand ready to share its experience and good practices with
fellow nations and work in solidarity with them towards this end.
With regard to views expressed on Tuesday (30 June) by the core group on Resolution 30/1
on Sri Lanka (UK, Canada, Germany, North Macedonia and Montenegro), the GoSL has
made clear that even as it withdraws from co-sponsorship of Resolution 30/1, it remains
committed to achieve reconciliation, accountability and human rights within the framework of
the Sri Lankan Constitution, through a domestically designed and executed process in line
with the Government’s policy framework.
We urge all parties once again to recognize the
realities on the ground, and appreciate this approach of focusing on deliverable measures of
reconciliation - which is backed by a people’s mandate and is in the interest of Sri Lanka and
its people, instead of opting to continue with a framework driven externally that has failed to
deliver genuine reconciliation for over four and half years.
In conclusion, the Government of Sri Lanka continues its engagement with the Office of the
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN Human Rights mechanisms and work in close
cooperation with the international community through capacity building and technical
assistance in mutually agreed areas, in keeping with domestic priorities and policies.