President Maithripala Sirisena called upon the international community to look at Sri Lanka with a fresh perspective and consider the tremendous progress made by the government towards reconciliation, restoration of democratic freedoms, human rights and the rule of law and extend the fullest support to the build a progressive, democratic, free and equal society.
Addressing the 73rd Session of the United nations General Assembly in New York on September 25 (26th morning in SL time), he said Sri Lanka is taking action to consolidate peace and forge ahead to develop the economy, and such a nation deserves the support and understanding of the international community. “I urge the international community to allow Sri Lankan people to solve their problems on their own,” he said.
As an independent country we do not want any foreign power to exert influence on us. We want to appeal to the international community to give us the room to resolve the problems that we are facing so that the right of the Sri Lankan people to find solutions to their problems is respected, he said.
The President said that the government is working to eliminate fear and suspicion among different communities.
Quoting from the Buddha’s preaching in the Sallasutta of Samyuktha Nikaye in Thripitaka, he said if a man is pierced with a dart, he will suffer physical pain. When he worries about it, he suffers more pain. Hence, there are two kinds of pains suffered by the man. When it comes to Sri Lanka, it is the people who suffered pain due to war and they continue to feel pain when they think about it. Therefore, I take this opportunity to call upon your support and cooperation, he said.
The President pointed out that the exodus of refugees is a major issue in international politics and urged the United Nations to play a bigger role because of the paramount importance of the issue.
Sri Lanka is following a nonaligned policy. In fact, Sri Lanka hosted the Non-aligned Summit in 1976 and it was the most successful summit. Sri Lanka has a policy of friendship with all and the country does not have any enemy nation in the world, he said.
President Sirisena said that Sri Lanka’s Executive President had been vested with more powers than any other leader in the world, and he had curtailed those excessive powers of the Executive Presidency and transferred those powers to the Parliament.
President Sirisena emphasized the need to eradicate poverty. At present, the whole world is engaged in an attempt to free itself from poverty and he said the United Nations must play a bigger role in the endeavour.
“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 the future of the entire biosphere and humanity,” he said.
The President categorically stated that the government is committed to work tirelessly to achieving reconciliation by fostering understanding among all ethnic and linguistic groups, while eliminating mutual suspicion and hatred in order to create a society where all can live freely and harmoniously. “Further, we are dedicated to ensure that the country will accomplish economic prosperity. Specially, my government is committed to the creating a fair and just society by strengthening the rule of law”, he said.
He said that during the last three and a half years, the government has taken several important steps that are necessary to consolidate democracy, freedom, good governance, media freedom and independence of the judiciary. “Through such transformative steps, we have laid the foundation necessary to forge national reconciliation, communal harmony and ensure non-recurrence of conflict in our country,” he said.
“As a country that has suffered violent conflict for 30 years, we are drawing from experience and lessons learned to strengthen national reconciliation, and we are determined to prevent the recurrence of conflict. We have given priority in this context to consolidate freedom and democracy in our country, and through a strong foundation of national reconciliation forged through unity and friendship among communities,” the President said.
President Sirisena pointed out that the most ruthless terrorists were defeated by the armed forces and the nation honour the valiant soldiers who made many sacrifices to bring peace to the country and safeguarded then unity and sovereignty of th nation with utmost commitment.
He emphasized that the vision of the government is to ensure sustained economic development through the increase of domestic agriculture and industry under an environment friendly policies and programs. He emphasized the imperative need to adhere to the Paris Protocol on Climate Change for the sake of the future of the human beings as well as flora and fauna.
“Sir Lanka has always been a country that has respected its treaties and conventions, agreements and rules and regulations of the United Nations. 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 to achieve our targets in order to find sustainable solutions to the allegations leveled against us,” the President said.
President Sirisena called on the world leaders to take a collective action for eradication of narcotic drugs and illegal pharmaceuticals. He said he wanted to draw the attention of the respected General Assembly of the United Nations to the problem of drugs that poses a serious threat to human society and asked the world body to play a bigger role in eliminating drugs.
The President said that in the international politics, the issue of Palestine is very important and reiterated Sri Lanka’s support to the people of Palestine.
Address by H.E. Maithripala Sirisena, President of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka at the 73rd Session of UNGA on September 25th, 2018
His Excellency President,
His Excellency Secretary-General,
Excellencies, Honorable Delegates and friends,
I am very happy to participate in this 73rd Session of the United Nation’s General Assembly as the representative of Sri Lanka for the fourth time. Sri Lanka, as a member state of the United Nations, is a country that is wholly committed to uphold and practice the principles and conventions of the United Nations. We are very satisfied about the progress Sri Lanka has made during the period over three and half years under my Presidency. At the time when people voted to elect me as the head of state in January 2015, the position of the Executive Presidency that I hold today has been full of excessive powers that it could not be compared with those of a king but an emperor. I am very happy to state here that I, as a human being and an elected head of state, delivered on the highest call our time by letting go of that excessive power by curtailing them of the Executive Presidency and transferring them to the Parliament of Sri Lanka.
During the last three and half years, we have been able to consolidate the country’s record on democracy, human rights, freedom of the people, freedom of the press, and the independence of the judiciary. Therefore, today my country has moved ahead from what it was three and half years ago. Today, people in Sri Lanka live in a more humane and transformed society.
I must also mention here that, in our duties and responsibilities as member states of the United Nations, we have to broadly understand and take actions regarding emerging political trends, economic dipartites, and challenges to humanity. With regard to contemporary international political trends, we know that the issue of refugees has become a major concern today. As such, I believe that the response to this issue, as the United Nations and member states, and other organizations need to be broadened and further strengthened.
Sri Lanka has adopted a middle-path foreign policy. It is one of the senior-most members of the Non-Aligned Movement. In 1976, Sri Lanka hosted a very successful summit of the Non-Aligned Movement. In our Non-aligned foreign policy, we consider all nations as our friendly nations and states. I am happy that today, Sri Lanka has no enemy nations or states.
In terms of global international political trends, I would like to mention that the United Nations as well as the powerful countries in the world should act with a boarder understanding about the problem of the Palestinian people. I would like to emphasize that Sri Lanka has always supported the struggle of the people of Palestine. Therefore, I believe that the United Nations and other states should stand up for the rights and act more humanely towards the people of Palestine, taking some of the unfortunate incidents there into consideration.
Among the basic problems of the contemporary world, we know that poverty is one of them. When we look at the situation of poverty, I believe the United Nations should take a larger stake on behalf of the world community. When talking about poverty, we know that billions of people go hungry today. Climatic changes and adverse weather, disparity of income, and lack of sensitivity towards the general public by those in power have become serious concerns. The effects of climatic change and economic failures around the world have become causes of increased poverty. It is important, therefore, to provide help to countries that are vulnerable to adverse effects of climate change and extreme weather conditions so that their everyday life is restored.
I must mention here that, other than poverty, there are other serious issues that continue to fetter us at a global scale. Racketeering of illegal arms, drugs, and penetration of illegal substances have today become great challenges to humanity. In this context, I am very happy that yesterday, a new global programme was initiated with the leadership of US President His Excellency Donald Trump and the United Nations to fight the epidemic of drugs. I believe that all countries should come together with the United Nations to implement a concerted action to fight the menace of drugs.
Given the broad mandate of the United Nations to work for the betterment of the member states, the international community, humanity and the natural world including its plant and animal life, rivers and sunlight, it is my belief that all member states of the United Nations should commit themselves to implement the Paris agreement on Climate Change, that was launched under the leadership of the former Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon. In that, Sri Lanka as a member state, considers it a high priority to implement the Paris Agreement.
Talking about the internal situations of my beloved motherland, as I mentioned before, Sri Lanka has greatly improved democracy, human rights, fundamental rights, freedom of the press. It is worth comparing where Sri Lanka stood forty years before and where we are today. We fought thirty year-long terrorism and it is now nearly ten years since the LTTE terrorism is over. We have achieved a lot during those ten years. Especially, during the last three and half years, my government has done well what needs to be done in a post-conflict period. We have worked hard and continue to work hard, as we intended,to ensure peace, national reconciliation and non-recurrence of the past. As such, when it comes to the issue of the human rights, as a country that stands firmly in its commitment, I request more support of the member states of the United Nations.
It was one of the world’s strongest terrorism groups that the Armed Forced of Sri Lanka eradicated. It is thanks to that achievement that Sri Lanka remains an unbroken, non-divided country with permanent peace. Our armed forces have contributed immensely to build lasting peace in Sri Lanka by defeating a strong terrorism organization. I mention this achievement with respect and thank the Sri Lanka’s armed forces for their dedication to bring lasting peace and protect the unitary state of Sri Lanka.
As ten years have gone by since the end of the armed conflict, I request from the international community to look at Sri Lanka in a new perspective and with new ideas. I appeal to all of you to adopt such new ideas and perspectives to help the economic development and prosperity of my beloved country Sri Lanka, that has experienced a distressing armed conflict, and where now peace and national reconciliation are fostered, where human rights are strongly protected, where everything is done to ensure non-recurrence of an armed conflict. With respect, I my request here is to let us solve our problems. Independence of a country is very important. I request to assistance and cooperation of all of you to carry out our humane mission to strengthen our democracy and achieve our noble mission while protecting our national independence.
The commitments we have made and the new programme we have launched are very important to solve our problems. As a sovereign state, we need no foreign influence or threats. As such, I reiterate my request too all, as a strong nation, that allow us to sort out our problems as a sovereign nation, that moves forward while protecting our rights. I respectfully request the support of everybody as we will solve the problems that need to be solved as Sri Lankans. We also need your cooperation in my government’s mission to erase doubt, fear and mistrust among communities living in my beloved motherland, while nurturing lasting peace among all communities.
It is important that we prioritize the problems of the poor people living in Sri Lanka as well as around the world. Today’s youth who have new ideas and expectations, also have problems that require solutions. Considering all these, I would like to quote an example from Buddhist Literature: in Salla Sutta in the Tripitaka, Samyukta Nikaya, 36.6, the Buddha preaches thus: If a man were pierced by a dart and, following the first piercing, when touched by a painful feeling, he worries and grieves, then it’s like a second dart to pierce him. First, it’s the pain of the piercing, and then it’s the pain of remembering the pain of such piercing. When it comes to Sri Lanka, it is the people of Sri Lanka who suffered pain due to war and they continue to feel pain when they think about it. It is important therefore that we heal the pain of our own people who suffer the pain, not others. Therefore, I take this opportunity to call upon your support and cooperation to make Sri Lanka a prosperous nation with just, democratic society upholding humanism.
Thank You Very Much
May the Noble Triple Gem Bless You