77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)
Interactive dialogue on Agenda Item 65 (a and b) – Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Children
Intervention by Mr. Chathura Weerasekara, First Secretary ,
of the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations
I thank you for giving me the floor.
It was great Neslon Mandela who said that “there can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children”. The greatest instrument that Sri Lanka has are its children, each day in the lives of the people, our fathers and mothers make deposits in the memory banks of our children.
Being an early signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Sri Lanka possess many positive developments related to the implementation of the Convention,
particularly with the enactment of several laws to protect the rights of children. Sri Lanka has also ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. One year after the ratification of the convention, Sri Lanka adopted an important policy document known as the ‘Children's Charter’, with a view to ensuring that standards of the Convention would guide law reform and enforcement, policy formulation and resource allocation.
Sri Lanka strongly condemns all forms of violence against children. Maintaining a zero-tolerance policy, Sri Lanka has established child and women bureaus in police stations in addition to attaching child protection officers to all Divisional secretariats across the country. The two key institutions involved in child protection and welfare in Sri Lanka are the National Child Protection Authority and the Department of Probation and Childcare Services (DPCS). At the provincial level, the DPCCS has its provincial departments in the nine Provinces headed by a Provincial Commissioner. At the district level, District Child-development Committees have been set up to facilitate the monitoring of all aspects relating to the advancement of child rights in each district. These committees consist of specified government officials drawn from different sectors as well as representatives from NGOs and religious leaders involved in children's affairs.
At this juncture, we are of the view that adequate nutrition is a sine qua non and vital to ensure that children of all socio-economic backgrounds can enjoy good health. The provision of quality education and health care for all, is at the core of Sri Lanka’s social protection policies and provided the foundation upon which Sri Lanka was able to mitigate the effects of the ‘global learning crisis’ during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rapid conversions to digital systems of delivery of education threatened universal access, participation, and survival in the education system especially in children of low-income households. Sri Lanka aims to bridge the digital divide and ensure that no child will be left behind on the face of the educational gap triggered by the pandemic.
While giving due recognition to the children affected by the conflict, and children without parents and children with single parents, we have taken concrete steps towards rehabilitating all children forcibly recruited by the non-state actors during the conflict. Upon completion of rehabilitation, they were released to their families. The rehabilitation programme ensured that these children received their
formal education and underwent vocation training programmes that allowed them to integrate into the society.
Sri Lanka remains steadfast with forward-looking, holistic and gender-responsive policies to fully realize the 2030 agenda and equipping our younger generation towards taking up the future challenges with confidence.
We believe that the greatest legacy we can pass onto one’s children is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life but rather a legacy of character and faith. We adults therefore have a duty to be models to our children.
I thank you