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Monday December 11th, 2023

UNHRC resolutions: Dinesh announces withdrawal from cosponsorship in Geneva

FILE PHOTO: Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunewardena / MFA handout photo

ECONOMYNEXT – Promising “homegrown solutions to contemporary challenges”, the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) formerly declared its decision today to withdraw from cosponsorship of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution 40/1 and the preceding resolutions 30/1 and 34/1.

Foreign Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena who addressed the high-level segment of the 43rd UNHRC session in Geneva a short while ago said that Sri Lanka will work toward the closure of the resolution in conjunction with all members of the UN.

“I wish to place on record Sri Lanka’s decision to withdraw from the cosponsorship of the resolution 40/1 on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka, which also incorporates and builds on preceding resolutions 30/1 of October 2015 and 34/1 of March 2017,” he said.

Gunawardena declared the government’s commitment to “sustainable peace and reconciliation” through an inclusive, domestically designed and executed reconciliation and accountability process. This will include a commission of inquiry (CoI) headed by a justice of the supreme court.

The foreign relations minister said the end of the war in 2009 advanced, secured and protected one of the fundamental human rights: the right to life, for all Sri Lankans – Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and others.

“Since 2009, not a bullet has been fired in the name of separatism in Sri Lanka,” he added.

Gunawardena said a “group of the UNHRC” had failed to appreciate GoSL endeavours in defeating terrorism and bringing about stability, humanitarian relief and lasting peace through a “carefully balanced reconciliation process”.

He accused the previous government of jettisoning the homegrown reconciliation process of the Mahinda Rajapaksa government that he claimed was bearing fruit. The Yahapalana administration, he said, “violated all democratic principles of governance” when it “unconstitutionally” agreed to cosponsor the 30/1 resolution binding the country to deliver the dictates of an international body.

“More seriously, it is seen that the dictated changes in the country pursuant to 30/1 undermined the national interest, compromised national security including weakening national intelligence operations and related safeguards which are deemed to have contributed to the lapses that resulted in the Easter Sunday attacks in April 2019,” said Gunawardena.

Resolution 30/1, he went on to say, had sought to cast on Sri Lanka obligations that could not be carried out within the country’s constitutional framework and had infringed on the sovereignty of the people. This, he said, was another factor that had prompted the present government to reconsider the cosponsorship.

Part of the delegation supporting Foreign Relations Minister Dinesh Gunewardena during the sessions. From Left to Right Additional Secretary to the President Admiral (Retd) Jayanath Colombage, State Minister of Public Administration and Home Affairs Mahinda Samarasinghe, Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Relations Ravinatha Aryasinha and seated behind Samarasinghe the Acting Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka in Geneva Dayani Mendis

Pointing to what he called the inherent illegality of the exercise, Gunawardena said the provisions in the resolution had forced the country to “carry out this experiment” that was impractical, unconstitutional and undeliverable.

The foreign relations minister also lamented the impact the resolutions had allegedly had on long nurtured regional relationships as well as relations with non-aligned nations, and on South Asian solidarity.

With President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resounding victory in November last year, Gunawardena further said, the people of Sri Lanka have given a signal for their wish for a different path forward.

“Sri Lanka remains committed to sustainable peace and reconciliation,” he said, adding that no one is more committed to this endeavour than the GoSL.

He declared the government’s commitment to a sustainable peace through a domestically designed process in line with the current administration’s stated policy framework and institutional reform consistent with Sri Lanka’s commitments.

Sri Lanka will continue to remain engaged with UN agencies and will seek their assistance where necessary including the regular human rights mandates, bodies and mechanisms in keeping with domestic priorities and policies, he stressed. (Colombo/Feb26/2020)


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Sri Lanka’s ousted utilities regulatory chief convinced he’ll be president

ECONOMYNEXT — Sri Lanka’s former public utilities regulatory chief Janaka Ratnayake, who was removed in May following a parliamentary vote, has confirmed that he intends to run for president.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday December 10 in the wake of an hours-long island-wide power outage the previous evening, Ratanayake said he will be the definite winner at a future presidential poll.

“I announced [my intention to run] officially on December 07, my birthday. I’m definitely coming as a presidential candidate. That’s not all, I’m the definite president at a future presidential election,” he said.

Ratnayake, in his first media appearance in months, was responding to questions about newspaper advertisements published on December 07 announcing his future candidacy.

Sri Lanka’s parliament on May 24 opted to remove the former chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL), with 123 members voting in favour. This marked the first time a head of an independent government commission was sacked by Sri Lanka’s parliament.

Power & Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara, who had been at loggerheads with the regulatory chief, said at the time that the official had acted obstinately without the concurrence of fellow commission members.

The minister levelled five charges against Ratnayake, the first twoof  which were based on a February 10 verdict by the Court of Appeal rejecting an application filed by the offiical against an electricity tariff hike. Opposition legislators slammed the decision saying it undermined independent commissions.

Ratnayake’s presidential ambitions have been known for some time. A day before parliament voted to remove him, he told reporters: “If I can change the country, I will definitely join politics, because my intention is to serve the people and what is right.”

Ratnayake had blocked delayed a tariff hike in early 2023, resulting in losses to the state-run Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), Minister Wijesekara claimed at the time. The PUCSL had als onot enabled tariff hikes for nine years, requiring its governing law to be changed, Wijesekera said.

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Sri Lanka wants university research to lead to commercially viable products

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s ministry of industries wants to ensure commercially-ready products and services are produced by university research, by facilitating partnerships with factories and entrepreneurs.

After a currency crisis, Sri Lanka’s government is in a drive to boost its trade balance by increasing exports.

“Our export basket hasn’t changed recently, partly because our small and medium entrepreneurs don’t have sufficient research and development facilities (like the multinationals) to innovate their products for the export market,” Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Industries, Chaminda Pathiraja said.

“At the same time, state universities and research institutes produce a large amount of research findings yearly, which end up sitting in those institutions; they don’t reach the industry,” Pathiraja said at a press briefing to announce a program on commercialization of new products and research, to be held tomorrow at the Waters Edge.

The networking forum will bring innovators and manufacturers together to focus on the commercialization of research for the value added tea, coir, spice, dairy products, gem and jewellery and packaging products industries.

“We want to encourage collaboration, through programs like our University Business League etc, so that the research output can be commercialized, and what is produced by our factories can increase in quantity and quality. We must focus on the export market.”

The objective of this program, he said, was to reduce the gap in acquiring innovators’ ideas and skills by the investors, and ultimately boost the manufacturing sector’s efficiency in alignment with the export market.

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Sri Lanka rupee opens at 327.00/50 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee opened at 327.00/50 to the US dollar on Monday, from 327.00/30 Friday, dealers said.

On the Colombo Stock Exchange, both indices opened up: The All Share Price Index 0.28 percent at 10,823, and the S&P SL20 0.35 percent at 3,113.85.

Bond yields were up.

A bond maturing on 01.08.2026 was quoted at 14.05/20 percent from 14.05/15 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.01.2027 was quoted at 14.05/20 percent from 14.10/25 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 was quoted at 14.20/50 percent from 14.20/35 percent.

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