Thank you for convening this high-level Dialogue, which provides deep insights into the linkages between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustaining Peace. The Dialogue gives us the opportunity to share some of our experiences in dealing with the 2030 Agenda and building peace in Sri Lanka.
Peace and sustainable development are interdependent. Existence of one without the other is impossible. These close linkages between sustaining peace and sustainable development have acquired a particular significance since the adoption of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.
We in Sri Lanka are deeply cognizant of the importance of building synergies between the 2030 Agenda and sustaining peace. As a country emerging from conflict and successfully endeavouring to build peace and sustain it, we are in a distinctive position to share our experience in this regard.
We have now reached the implementation stage of the Sustainable Development Goals. Sri Lanka is committed to implement them with determination. To this end, the Government has declared the year 2017 as the Year of Poverty Alleviation, and on 02nd January 2017, the President launched Government’s “Vision for a Sustainable Era”, the national programme for building a sustainable country, aligning it with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
As the first country in the Asia-Pacific Region to establish a separate Ministry for Sustainable Development, Sri Lanka is uniquely placed to implement the Sustainable Development Goals at national level, and contribute to the universal efforts to transform the world. It was only a few days ago that draft legislation entitled “Sri Lanka Sustainable Development Bill” was tabled in Parliament to provide a broad legislative framework for the implementation of our national policy on sustainable development.
We have recognized that the success of all those efforts is contingent upon building peace and sustaining it. Sri Lanka’s post-conflict reconciliation and peacebuilding efforts are consonant with our path to development.
The set of measures that the Government of Sri Lanka has identified to deal with the past in a comprehensive manner, addressing the grievances of all victims, include truth seeking, justice, reparation and measures for guaranteeing non-recurrence. As important milestones of this process, we have enacted legislation to set up a permanent Office for Missing Persons, and the Consultation Task Force established to seek the views of the public on these measures handed over its report to the Government early this month. Much of preparatory work for a new Constitution is now completed and a draft National Human Rights Action Plan has also been drafted.
Sri Lanka is grateful for the support received from the UN Peacebuilding Support Office and look forward to furthering our collaboration. We have also supported on-going efforts to strengthen the UN Peacebuilding Fund.
An array of symbolic activities are also carried out throughout the country to build peace, which will pave the way for sustainable development.
A National Integration and Reconciliation Week was observed from 08th -14th January 2017, which will be celebrated annually henceforth. As one of the main features of this year’s observance, a Pledge for National Integration and Reconciliation was read out in schools and state institutions including in Parliament, resolving to work together towards a new Sri Lanka united in its diversity.
These are some of our efforts to prevent relapse into conflict and build sustaining peace, notwithstanding some challenges which yet remain after thirty years of conflict.
We have learnt in the bitter way that the root causes of the conflict lie in the economic, ethnic and social exclusion of groups. In order to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies and ultimately to achieve all SDGs, it would be imperative to include in our development efforts women, youth, children, people with disabilities, and in particular minorities and groups in vulnerable situations. We in Sri Lanka, are keeping this uppermost in mind when we proceed to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.