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Statement by H.E. Dr. Rohan Perera at the General Assembly Plenary Joint Debate on the Report of the Peacebuilding Commission, Peacebuilding and sustaining peace, and Report of the Secretary General on the Peacebuilding Fund

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Statement by H.E. Dr. Rohan Perera, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations at the General Assembly Plenary Joint Debate on the Report of the Peacebuilding Commission [29]; Peacebuilding and sustaining peace [61]: Report of the Secretary-General on the Peacebuilding Fund [110]

20 April 2017


Mr. President,

Thank you for convening this Joint Debate of the Plenary on the very important topic of Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace, as well as on the Reports of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund.

I also thank the Secretary-General for his Report on the Peacebuilding Fund, of which Sri Lanka is a close partner and a beneficiary. It is heartening to see in the Report that despite concerns over funding levels, the Peacebuilding Fund has registered remarkable achievements during the past year.

Mr. President,

We believe that the concept of ‘Sustaining Peace’ should be at the core of our efforts at the United Nations to prevent conflicts and bring peace to the world. It encompasses all dimensions of prevention and peace, namely, conflict prevention, effective peacebuilding, addressing the root causes of conflict as well as ensuring non-recurrence.

If we are to apply this concept in our efforts, it has the potential to help in saving precious human lives from the horrors of conflict and war in these challenging times. In short, Sustaining Peace is essentially about prevention.

Mr. President,

Secretary-General António Guterres has said that “prevention is not merely a priority, but the priority”. We fully subscribe to this view. If prevention is the priority, it is imperative that we commit ourselves to Sustaining Peace wholeheartedly.

In this regard, we welcome the “High-level Dialogue on Building Sustainable Peace for All”, convened by the President of the General Assembly (you) in January this year. The Dialogue gave useful insights into the synergies between the Sustainable Development Agenda and Sustaining Peace.

As was stressed by many speakers at that event, Sustaining Peace is not an alien concept imposed upon States, but an inclusive, people-centered, nationally driven and owned process. We too, subscribe to this view.

Mr. President,  

As a country emerging from conflict, Sri Lanka is well poised to reflect on the enormous suffering that conflict brought about. This awareness has spurred us to commit ourselves to post-conflict peacebuilding and sustaining peace with utmost dedication.

This is indeed the underlying rationale for our unrelenting support to the agenda for Sustaining Peace and joining the Group of Friends of Sustaining Peace, a growing group of countries that is committed to promoting that agenda.

Mr. President,

Implementation of the concept of Sustaining Peace worldwide, in our view, will require a concerted and coordinated effort from the entire United Nations system, all Member States and other stakeholders. In short, the task of sustaining peace needs sustained international attention and assistance.

In this regard, I am pleased to inform that Sri Lanka has just pledged a contribution to the PBSO / UNOPS joint project, which aims at better communicating the concept of Sustaining Peace among various stakeholders.

We strongly believe that measures to prevent the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict need coherent, integrated and coordinated approach. It must be an approach that must be adopted by the entire United Nations system, Member States and other stakeholders.

As was expounded during the High-Level Dialogue on Sustainable Peace in January, Sustaining peace is also linked to development. Sustainable peace and sustainable development are inextricably linked and interdependent. We have recognized this and Sri Lanka’s post-conflict reconciliation and peacebuilding efforts are consonant with our path to sustainable development.

Mr. President,

The Government of Sri Lanka is very much committed to sustaining peace. Our efforts in post-conflict reconciliation are essentially aimed towards conflict prevention and building sustaining peace.

We remain committed to prevent relapse into conflict and build sustaining peace, notwithstanding certain challenges, which arise in the milieu of democratic politics.

The measures that we have identified to bring about  post-conflict reconciliation consist of truth seeking,   justice, reparation and measures for guaranteeing  non-recurrence. In this process we are addressing the grievances of all victims, which remain at the core of these efforts.

Some of the key milestones in our efforts to usher in sustaining peace in Sri Lanka consists of an inclusive process to draw up a new Constitution that would guarantee the rights of all Sri Lankans, drawing up of a national human rights action plan as well as passage of legislation to set up a   Permanent Office for Missing Persons, to bring about a sense of closure to those affected by the conflict. 

The report of the Consultation Task Force which sought the views of the public on transitional justice mechanisms is presently being studied to determine the appropriate mechanisms for truth seeking, reparations, justice and non-recurrence.

The Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR), is working on a National Policy on Reconciliation. The Office is also working on educational sector reform with a view to inculcating in our children the importance of pluralism, thus contributing to national reconciliation. ONUR is also providing training to leaders of inter-faith groups and clergy in peacebuilding, in order to use them as early-warning mechanisms to defuse conflict situations. 

Mr. President,

In these efforts, we are closely engaging with the UN Peacebuilding Support Office. It is imperative that the Peacebuilding Support Office be further strengthened to carry out the agenda for Sustaining Peace.

I also appreciate the assistance extended by the Peacebuilding Fund to Sri Lanka’s initial peacebuilding projects and for the Peacebuilding Priority Plan.

Since the declaration by the Secretary-General of Sri Lanka’s eligibility to receive funds from the UN Peacebuilding Fund in 2015, the Fund’s total commitment to us amounts to US$ 12.3 million.  Of this, 7 million being earmarked for the Peacebuilding Priority Plan.

Last year’s General Assembly Resolution on the Review of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture rightfully identified the dire need for adequate, predictable and sustained financing for the UN peacebuilding efforts. We worked closely with the Peacebuilding Support Office to address the issue of the Peacebuilding Fund being hampered with decreasing contributions and co-hosted with several other States a Donor Pledging Conference to refinance the Fund during the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly in September 2016.

Mr. President,

Report of the Secretary-General on the Peacebuilding Fund reiterates that the agenda for Sustaining Peace compels a redoubling of effort on the part not only of the Fund, so as to ensure that its resources are used to greatest effect, but also of Member States, to ensure that they match their clear-cut political support for the Fund with adequate and sustainable financing. 

In this context, we stand fully behind the agenda for Sustaining Peace and would support all efforts of the United Nations to promote it.

Thank you.