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Statement delivered by H.E. Mohan Pieris, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka at the Third Committee

Monday, 30 October 2023
H.E. Mr. Mohan Pieris
New York

Statement delivered by H.E. Mohan Pieris, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka
under the Item 69 of the 3rd Committee: Elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance

My delegation aligns itself with the statements made by Cuba on behalf of G77 and Azerbaijan on behalf of NAM and wish to state the following under the Item 69 of the 3rd Committee on “Elimination of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and related intolerance” in my national capacity.

It was Dr Martin Luther King who said ‘I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word”.

In this quote from his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Dr. King expresses his belief that people will one day leave racial injustice behind. He aligns racism with war, and peace with brotherhood. In line with his adherence to nonviolent protests and civil disobedience, he states that truth and love will ultimately win.

The elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance in all their forms and manifestations is a crucial goal for a just and inclusive society. It requires collective efforts from individuals, communities, governments, and institutions to address these deeply rooted issues.

Education and awareness play a vital role in combating racism and discrimination. Promoting tolerance, empathy, and understanding through education can help challenge stereotypes and prejudices. Schools, universities, and educational institutions can incorporate anti-racist curricula and create safe spaces for dialogue and reflection.

Legislation and policies are essential in ensuring equal rights and protections for all individuals. Governments should enact and enforce laws that prohibit discrimination and provide mechanisms for victims to seek justice. Efforts should be made to promote diversity and inclusion in all aspects of society, including employment, housing, and public services.

Media and communication platforms also have a responsibility to promote positive representations of diverse communities and challenge harmful stereotypes. Responsible journalism and media practices can contribute to shaping public opinion and fostering a more inclusive society.

Engaging in dialogue and fostering intercultural understanding is crucial for combating racism and discrimination. Encouraging respectful conversations, interfaith dialogues, and cultural exchanges can help break down barriers and promote empathy and acceptance.

Mr President, this year marks the 22nd Anniversary of the Durban Declaration and the Programme of Action. As my delegation believes that this area be given the utmost priority, we believe that reviewing the achievements made so far with regard to elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in their all forms and manifestations is highly important at this juncture. In this context, Durban declaration should be seen as a beginning and not as an end as it is a key to responding to the hopes and aspirations of those who continue to suffer discrimination across the globe.

It was Archbishop Desmond Tutu who reminded us that “If we are neutral in situations of injustice, we  have chosen the side of the oppressor ; how true and apt that thought is in todays context
Mr. Chair,
Sri Lanka reaffirms that all human-beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. The Fundamental Rights Chapter of Sri Lanka’s Constitution guarantees the non-discrimination of persons in Article 12(2), which states that “No citizen shall be discriminated against on the grounds of race, religion, language, caste, sex, political opinion, place of birth or any one of such grounds”. We believe that all persons have the right and the potential to contribute constructively to the development of their societies.
Sri Lanka, as a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and muti-religious society, has taken tangible, meaningful and results-oriented measures towards this endeavour. They consist of, inter-alia, the adoption of the Trilingual Policy in January 2012, a 10-year national plan for a trilingual Sri Lanka and recent efforts to ensure public sector workers speak both Sinhala and Tamil; and the adoption of the National Plan of Action for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.
Mr. Chair,
Sri Lanka understands that the internet platforms and digital technologies, including AI platforms are being used to advocate hatred to plan, fundraise and circulate information about public events aimed at promoting racism, xenophobia and related intolerance, such as rallies, demonstrations and acts of violence. While being mindful of the fact that internet can play a vital role in promoting equality, inclusion, and non-discrimination as part of strengthening democracy and respect for Human Rights, we are deeply concerned on the manifestations of all forms of terrorism and violence through the online platforms. We strongly believe that the nations should come together and take comprehensive steps towards strengthening their national legislative frameworks to curb such incidents.
Mr. Chair,
Sri Lanka remains deeply concerned about the alarming resurgence of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance across the world, despite efforts made to combat these scourges in the past half century. While reaffirming that all humans are equal in dignity and rights, as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Vienna Declaration and the Programme for Action, Sri Lanka would like to reiterate its strong opposition to all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Sri Lanka reiterates that all forms of racial idiscrimination constitute serious violations of human rights, that must be unequivocally rejected through all political and legal means while strongly rejecting any doctrine of racial superiority, along with theories which attempt to determine the existence of so-called distinct human races.
Mr Chair,

I wish to leave you with the thought as someone said that In worshipping their nationhood men worship themselves and scorn others, and that is no healthy thing.”and that Diversity is an aspect of human existence that cannot be eradicated by terrorism or war or self-consuming hatred. It can only be conquered by> recognizing and claiming the wealth of values it represents for all.”
In conclusion, the government of Sri Lanka remains committed to build a society where the rights of all communities are secured and their safety and security is ensured. Human dignity is valued and equal treatment to every person, notwithstanding religion, ethnicity or race is an accepted form of public life. With our strong belief and commitment to “preservation and promotion of tolerance, pluralism and respect for diversity” as rightly mentioned in the Durban declaration, we look forward to realize this endeavour by producing inclusive societies through forward-looking and holistic policy implementation.

My delegation believes that individuals have a role to play in addressing racism and discrimination. It is important to examine our own biases, challenge discriminatory attitudes and behaviors, and stand up against injustice. Supporting organizations and initiatives that promote equality and justice can also make a significant impact.

Eliminating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance requires a comprehensive and sustained effort across all levels of society. By working together, we can create a world that values diversity and treats all individuals with dignity and respect.

I thank you.
Link to the video : https://youtu.be/G00j0eFP3zw