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Celebrations in New York to mark the 60th Anniversary of Sri Lanka-UN Relations

Monday, 14 December 2015

The Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka in New York celebrated today, December 14, 2015, the 60th anniversary of the admission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations with an archival photographic exhibition, which was followed by a breakfast reception.

Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) was admitted to the United Nations on 14th December 1955 along with AlbaniaAustriaBulgariaCambodiaFinland,HungaryIrelandItalyJordanLaosLibyaNepalPortugalRomania, and Spain, following its application to join the Organization in 1948.

H.E. Dr. Rohan Perera, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN, delivering welcome remarks

The archival photographic exhibition that illustrated the key milestones of Sri Lanka-UN relations since 1955, were held at the Permanent Mission premises with the participation of the Permanent Representatives of the fifteen countries that were admitted to the United Nations along with Sri Lanka sixty years ago, as well as senior UN officials.

Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Dr. Rohan Perera in conversation with Hungarian Permanent Representative Katalin Bogyay and UN Secretary General's Special Advisor on Myanmar Vijay Nambiar

Making his welcome remarks at the event, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Rohan Perera gave a brief account of the excellent relations that Sri Lanka has been maintaining with the United Nations as an active member of the Organization.  He elaborated on the significant role that Sri Lanka has been playing since its admission to the United Nations, including as a member of the Security Council and a leading contributor of troops to UN peacekeeping operations, and how the Organization has, in turn, contributed to the socio-economic development in Sri Lanka.

Ambassador Perera also gave an account of the prominent Sri Lankan diplomats who have held many a high position in the United Nations including that of the Presidency of the General Assembly, the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, as well as the important resolutions that Sri Lanka has successfully proposed and piloted through the General Assembly including on the Indian Ocean Peace Zone, International Year for Shelter for Homeless, the international recognition of the Day of Vesak , and the World Youth Skills Day.

 Two United Nations senior officials who attended the event are viewing the photographic exhibition

Ambassador Rohan Perera further observed that like in relations among states, the relations between Sri Lanka and the United Nations have also undergone ups and downs over the years, in particular during the past few years. However, with the changes in the Sri Lankan political landscape, Sri Lanka has resolved to positively engage with the United Nations with a renewed vigour to further the existing relations and to resume its position as a responsible member of the international community. He added “we are committed to the ideal of decency and mutual respect in dealings among nations, to the protection and promotion of human rights and preserving the dignity of all people, irrespective of race, gender, colour or creed”.


Ambassador Rohan Perera and Jordanian Permanent Representative Dina Kawar viewing the photographic exhibition

Ambassador Rohan Perera later participated in a luncheon jointly hosted by the Permanent Representatives of the said sixteen countries in honour of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, to mark the 60th anniversary of their joint admission to the United Nations.

A short video documentary on “Sri Lanka's sixty years in the United Nations” produced by the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation, was also screened on this occasion.

Event to mark the 60th Anniversary of Sri Lanka’s Admission

to the United Nations- Welcome Remarks by H.E. Dr. Rohan Perera,

Ambassador and Permanent Representative

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to extend a very warm welcome to you all, who have joined us today at this simple event to mark the adoption of the Landmark Resolution of the General Assembly, admitting Sri Lanka with 15 other States as Member States of the United Nations. 

The  archival Photographic Exhibition that is on display this morning tells a unique story of Sri Lanka’s active involvement since its admission as a responsible Member State of the Organization and in turn, the way in which the United Nations has contributed to the economic, social and cultural progress of Sri Lanka and its people.  It is a part of this story that Sri Lanka was a non-permanent member of the Security Council during 1960-1961 and chaired the session on the Congo crisis, the critical issue confronting the Organization at the time.  Many Sri Lankan Diplomats have held responsible positions in the United Nations system, including the Presidency of the historic Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea which formulated a new constitution for the oceans and the Conference on the Review/Extension of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, among many others.

We are proud to have successfully proposed the Indian Ocean Peace Zone Concept in 1971, a Committee which we continue to chair to-date as well as the Special Committee to investigate Israel Practices, since its establishment in 1968. Sri Lanka was proud to propose, in 1987, the Declaration on the International Year of Shelter for the homeless and the 1999 resolution on the recognition of Vesak, a day of special significance to Buddhists all over the world, as a UN day of observance.  Just last year, Sri Lanka’s proposal to designate the world youth skills day, received overwhelming support of the General Assembly.

Sri Lanka has been contributing significantly to the United Nations Peacekeeping operations.  Our highly professional and well-disciplined troops have been part of many an endeavour of the United Nations to maintain peace and security around the world.  We will continue to engage in these operations, as the very nature of contemporary peacekeeping operations continue to evolve, amidst new challenges, protection of the Civilian being at the core of these challenges.

As Sri Lanka emerges from a long drawn-out conflict, post conflict peace building is a priority area in which, close engagement with the Peace Building Support Office has resulted in the Secretary-General declaring Sri Lanka, as a State, eligible to receive financial support from the UN Peace Building Fund. We are looking forward for closer engagement in this area, and for wider support, including from the Peace Building Commission Member States. 

As in other relationships, the relationship between Sri Lanka and the United Nations has, at times, undergone stresses and strains.  This was particularly so during the conflict and in its immediate aftermath.

With the assumption of office of the new administration, however, Sri Lanka is committed, once again, to building bridges and engaging positively with all Member States and the United Nations.  We are committed to the ideal of decency and mutual respect in dealing among nations, to the protection and promotion of human rights and preserving the dignity of all people, irrespective of race, gender, colour or creed.

I thank you once again for having accepted our invitation and for being part of this celebration.