Politics Have Over-ridden Most Basic Issues
- President Mahinda Rajapaksa At The 68th United Nations General Assembly
Attending the 68th United Nations General Assembly held at the UN Headquarters in New York last week, President Mahinda Rajapaksa noted that it was ‘disturbing’ to observe the growing trend in the international arena of interference by some in the internal matters of developing countries in the guise of security and guardians of human rights.
“Therefore, we continue to witness agitations the world over, leading to violence and forcing political change accompanied by turmoil,” Rajapaksa said.
“It is timely to contemplate whether such movements have led to better stability in these countries, or produced different results, due to inappropriate external factors. In fact, the positive outcomes envisaged by those responsible have not come to pass, but indeed contributed to making those countries unstable. Does this not erode the authority of the Security Council because of unilateral or group actions?
“This trend needs to be arrested as it has now extended into areas detrimental to the well-being of populations. This turmoil results from attempts to impose a type of democracy upon countries with significantly different cultures, values and history. The world needs no policing by a few States, particularly when the UN is mandated to ensure international security through multi-lateral engagement. This engagement, to be complete in our time, must ensure protection of the human race against the flagrant abuse of modern science in such forms as nuclear and chemical weapons,” he added.
The President also noted that “unilateral measures such as embargoes and economic sanctions, imposed on countries are disturbing … Such initiatives bring suffering not only to those specifically targeted but also to a wide range of humanity without any justification. Yet again, I stand in support of the people of Cuba in overcoming economic hardships and full access to economic opportunity.”
Speaking on the post-conflict developments in the country, following the eradication of separatist terrorism, he said Sri Lanka was in the process of addressing the issues of development and reconciliation. “Sri Lanka’s government, at all times responsive to the priorities reflected in public opinion, is engaged in all measures required for meaningful progress in these fields.
“A significant event in this regard is the opportunity which the people of the Northern Province enjoyed at the elections held three days ago to elect their representatives in the Provincial Council. It is a matter of legitimate satisfaction to me that this was made possible after the lapse of almost a quarter of a century.
There can be no doubt regarding the crucial importance of this measure in the context of political empowerment and reconciliation. It is clearly the responsibility of the international community to assist with these efforts and to ensure their success for the benefit of all the people of Sri Lanka”, he said.
He expressed concern that “in spite of the visible progress made, and consistent engagement with UN mechanisms, many countries are surprised at the disproportionate emphasis on Sri Lanka, and the unequal treatment through the multi-lateral framework.
The basis for this relentless pursuit is also questioned. It is my conviction that the UN system should be astute to ensure the consistency of standards applied so that there is no room for suspicion of manipulation of the UN System by interested parties to fulfil their agendas.”
Supporting his statement on Sri Lanka’s progression, he said that despite the calamities during last few decades “Sri Lanka was ranked 92nd out of 187 countries in the Human Development Index in 2012.
Absolute poverty in Sri Lanka declined to 6.5% in 2012 from 15.2%, over a period of five years, surpassing the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) mid-term target.”
He also said that when reflecting on the work of the UN, matters of a political nature had over-ridden the most basic issues which affected the under-privileged and marginalized who dominated world society. However, he added that the commitment to the MDGs brought a real sense of optimism, and the theme for this session was timely as progress in MDGs could be evaluated with its deadline fast approaching.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa met with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and many world leaders and foreign delegates, including Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, the Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. President Rajapaksa and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had discussions on a range of issues including the post-conflict situation in Sri Lanka, the elections that were recently held in the Northern Province, the implementation of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, and ways in which Sri Lanka and the United Nations could continue working together. During his talks with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani he had pledged to further strengthen the relations between the two countries.
President Rajapaksa had also thanked President Rouhani for Iran’s support to Sri Lanka, particularly in the energy sector and with other major infrastructure projects.He also had discussions with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key on a number of topics, including the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting that would take place in Colombo in November. President Rajapaksa had also invited New Zealand to send representatives to the Commonwealth Business Forum.