73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Item 28: Social development
Statement by Satya Rodrigo
Deputy Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN
03 October 2018
I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate you Mr. Chairman and the members of the Bureau on your election. Please be ensured of my delegation’s full cooperation and support for the entire duration of this Session.
Sri Lanka aligns itself with the statement made by the distinguished representative of Egypt on behalf of the G77 and China. We thank the Secretary-General for his detailed report that highlights the trends in inequality within and among countries.
We are three years into the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, or the Sustainable Development Goals, which are centered around the fundamental principle of “leaving no-one behind” or bringing those most marginalized into the spotlight. Sri Lanka clearly believes that ‘no one should be left behind’ as we move along our development agenda, and the concept of ‘inclusive development’ lying at the heart of our collective efforts, without which it would be impossible to achieve the SDGs.
As such, the Government of Sri Lanka has taken many initiatives to give special focus to youth, those with disabilities, ageing populations and other vulnerable groups.
As you would agree, a main challenge related to youth is to impart skills needed by young people for productive employment. Sri Lanka has formulated and implemented several policies and programmes to promote youth skills development at the national level. This includes the development and implementation of a National Vocational Qualification Framework and imparting employable skills through Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) as a key component in the economic and social development strategy.
Since 2017, all Technical Vocational Education and Training courses are free of charge keeping in line with the universal free education system in the country. Steps have also been taken to establish a National Career Guidance and Counseling Centre linked with the District Career Guidance and Counseling Centers in order to create awareness among youth of the importance and the benefits of TVET for productive job opportunities.
Given the national and international importance of skills for youth, four years ago, Sri Lanka together with Portugal and other co-sponsoring Member States, spearheaded the General Assembly resolution for establishing July 15th as the “World Youth Skills Day”, acknowledging the imperative need for bridging the youth skills gap and tackling the issue of youth unemployment and underemployment. Since the adoption of this resolution in 2014, we have celebrated the World Youth Skills Day as an annual event.
The Secretary-General’s Report on “Inclusive development for persons with disabilities” recognizes the importance of mainstreaming the rights, needs and perspectives of persons with disabilities at the national, regional and global levels.
Sri Lanka signed the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 30th March 2007 and ratified it on 8th February 2016. At the national level, since as far back as 1996, Sri Lanka took a number of concrete measures to address and resolve issues faced by the disabled, when a legal framework covering rehabilitation, education, employment and health rights for disabled persons came into effect.
In the same year (1996), Sri Lanka established a National Council for Persons with Disabilities and a National Secretariat for Persons with Disabilities; to ensure the promotion, welfare and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities and to provide a platform for their voice to be heard. In addition, many policies are in place relating to the socio-economic needs of disabled persons with a number of ‘National Action Plans’ covering employment, accessibility, provisions for self-employment, vocational training, and community based rehabilitation programmes. We also have a number of special programmes that benefit disabled women and children in Sri Lanka.
Last year, the Government of Sri Lanka officially launched its National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP) for the years 2017 to 2021. This document comprehensively extends the efforts that have already been taken with regard to persons with disabilities. The NHRAP further outlines areas for improvement in terms of infrastructural accessibility, raising greater awareness, upholding of the rights of, and other matters in relation to persons with disabilities.
In conclusion, Sri Lanka reiterates the fundamental importance of social development as an important pillar in achieving the SDGs and remains committed to working closely with friends and international partners towards the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.