by Sugeeswara Senadhira
President Maithripala Sirisena called upon the international community support Sri Lanka’s slow, but steady journey to achieve the targets in order to find sustainable solutions to the allegations leveled against the country. He said this referring to the UNHRC resolution.
Addressing the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York he emphasized that this would be done while ‘we protect our independence and sovereignty’. He urged the international community to support ‘slow, but steady forward march to achieve our targets to find sustainable solutions to the allegations levelled against us’.
This was a very clear message to the West that we would not implement any of the clauses that could infringe on our sovereignty. “ Some extremist groups are expecting a high speed. Some extremist groups want radical solutions.
However, as a country that has faced a three decade long war, where deep divisions have been existed, I request the support of all of you to promote peace and fraternity, so that my beloved country and its people can rise from the current situation. That is why I emphasize that it is for a slow and a successful journey that we need the support,” he said.
At the same time, he pointed out that, “as a government, we are paying serious attention to the aforementioned allegations and to find solutions to them as a matter of priority. Mainly, my government has performed well in terms of strengthening democracy and protecting human rights. I must mention here that the government will continue to ensure their progress in the future.”
While very few moderate leaders displayed courage to openly criticize Donald Trump, President Sirisena stressed the need for the entire world to adhere to Paris Climate Agreement on environmental protection, from which the new US President has withdrawn.
Donald Trump, the leader of the world’s second largest greenhouse gas emitter, USA announced that his country remove itself from the Paris Climate Agreement, which was signed by his predecessor Barrack Obama. The Paris Agreement was hailed as the best international effort to address dangerous global warming. Apart from US, only Syria and Nicaragua refused to join the pact.
“In order to fulfill my solemn duty to the United States and its citizens, the US will withdraw from the Paris climate accord, but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accords or a really entirely new transaction, on terms that are fair to the United States,” the US president told press in the White House rose garden in June this year.
President Sirisena said, “my government emphasized the protection of our environment in our drive to achieve sustainability of our development. “I must mention that, today, the whole world is facing challenges posed by severe changes in climate. I would like to propose that the community of nations must focus on implementing the Paris Accord that the world reached in 2015, by further improving the unity that we reached by signing that accord. We must remember that the Paris Accord is critically important to future of the entire biosphere and humanity,” the Sri Lankan leader boldly declared.
Two other points President Sirisena raised at the UNGA – women and children – won him accolade from the international community. “Children all over the world, including in my country, are facing many challenges. We launched a National Programmes, ‘daruwan Surakimu’ for protecting the nation’s children.
They need to be saved from intoxicants, and from abuse. I would like to highlight the need to implement targeted programmes at national and international levels to ensure the safety of our children.
Pointing out that the world has recognized the need to ensure the rights of women, President Sirisena said, however, there are still countries and societies, where women are not treated equally.” In my country, more that 52% of the population are women. New changes in our Constitution protect the rights of women. New measures include the legislation that makes it mandatory that a minimum of 25% candidates at elections should be women.”
While it is important to work for the progress of women and children, it is also necessary to fight the menace of drugs and other intoxicants, he told the world leaders. Sri Lanka has launched a nation-wide campaign to fight drugs and other intoxicants.
However, while noting that the threat posed by drugs to the humanity, he said, “I underscore the need to implement a broader international response to the threat posed by drugs, and other intoxicants.
As I see it, drug prevention and mitigation oriented programmes with a broad acceptance and consensus are the need of the day.”
The President briefed the world community about Sri Lanka’s domestic issues and the imperative need for locally bred solutions for them. Pointing out that poverty is presently a serious challenge throughout the world, he said that year 2017 has been declared as the year of freedom from poverty in Sri Lanka and have prioritized economic development.
“We have initiated a ‘Grama Shakthi’ programme to empower villages and to give prominence to putting in place the necessary requirements for addressing all the problems faced by the people of the country.
President Sirisena reminded the world body that Sri Lanka has been a member of United Nations for 62 years. Sir Lanka has always been a country that has respected its treaties and conventions, agreements and rules and regulations while acting to improve such relations further.
After diving that home, he made his appeal to the world leaders. “As such, in our country’s journey where we protect our independence and sovereignty, we respectfully request the support of the international community for us to go on a moderate but steady path achieve our targets in order to find sustainable solutions to the allegations leveled against us.”