SL or any other nation cannot tackle challenges alone - Minister Ali Sabry

Sunday, 25 September 2022 - 13:12

Minister Ali Sabry says the world is facing a multiplicity of complex interlocking challenges & SL or any other nation cannot tackle challenges alone. He said external & internal challenges SL faces provide an opportunity for implementing political, social & economic reforms that will lead to recovery & prosperity for people. 

The Ful text is gven below

77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, General Debate
Statement by  Ali Sabry,
Minister of Foreign Affairs & Head of Delegation of The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
24th September 2022 - New York

I am honoured to represent Sri Lanka at the 77th session of the UNGA; a
session which after two years brings together world leaders post pandemic
to an Assembly in person.
Permit me the honor of congratulating His Excellency Csaba Kőrösi on
being elected President of the current session. Mr. President, Sri Lanka
looks forward to working closely with you and your team in the year ahead.
May I also convey our appreciation to His Excellency Abdulla Shahid of The
Maldives for his excellent stewardship of the 76th Session. As a close friend
and neighbor of the Maldives, we express particular appreciation for his
Presidency of Hope that gave us renewed optimism and vigour. Building on
this, we move to the vision of our new PGA of finding solutions through
solidarity, sustainability and science.

Mr. President,
Seventy seven years ago, when the battlefield of the Second World War
was silent but its horrors revaberated around the globe, a new world order
emerged out of the remains of the older one. And that new world order
was manifested by the Charter of the United Nations, developed by 50
nations at the San Francisco Conference. The United Nations is a table
where every State can sit down, a forum where everyone can be heard and
where everyone is equally important. This is the concept of multilateralism,
and this is a fundamental political principle of diplomacy. It is said that
multilateral diplomacy is similar to gardening; you plant, you wait, you sow
the seeds, you wait, you trim and harvest at some point. In multilateralism,
we talk to each other, we develop a relationship of trust and confidence
and if something was to come up, you have the base to work from.
The world is facing a multiplicity of complex interlocking challenges. The
far-reaching effects of the pandemic have been further exacerbated by the
current global crises. These vulnerabilities have been aggravated by the
devastating consequences of what the Secretary-General has referred to as
the “five-alarm global fire” which has resulted inter-alia in “the triple
planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and rising pollution”.
We are in addition witnessing extreme weather patterns resulting in loss of
life, property and habitat, involuntary human displacement, and an
accompanying food and energy crisis.

It is not difficult to imagine that these trends lead to deepening
inequalities, both within and between States. Developing countries and
their economies are at extreme risk with Governments facing debt-default
and financial collapse due to lack of access to adequate capital, while
people face rising poverty, unemployment and hunger. As a consequence,
nutrition levels especially among children are being affected and their
education and intellectual advancement disrupted. Despite our best efforts,
our collective ability to realize the Sustainable Development Goals or even
to sustain the gains already achieved is becoming increasingly difficult.
Mr. President,
It is against this challenging global backdrop, that significant changes have
taken place in Sri Lanka since the last UNGA. The external and internal
challenges we face provide an opportunity for implementing political, social
and economic reforms that will lead to recovery and prosperity for our
people. Sri Lanka believes that this is the moment to realise our collective
vision for the future; an opportunity to build a more just, sustainable and
prosperous future for all Sri Lankans, ‘to build back better’. We look
forward to the cooperation and support of the international community
including the United Nations, as we embark on this journey.
Following prolonged social unrest and protests in the country, President
Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his maiden speech in Parliament last month
stated, I quote, “I will implement social and political reforms requested by
the nation”, unquote. These measures include a review of the present
procedures, the strengthening of the institutional framework of democratic
governance and adoption of urgent measures to restore long term
economic stability. We have understood that this will only be possible if we
engage in a strict adherence to fiscal discipline and far reaching economic
& institutional reforms.
Mr. President, we are committed to that process.
It is envisaged that through the proposed legislative and constitutional
amendments, democratic governance will be reinforced with independent
oversight institutions as well as with enhanced public scrutiny. Legal and
administrative frameworks are being strengthened to ensure transparency,
integrity, accountability and inclusivity in providing access to justice. A
greater participation of women and youth will be ensured in this process.

Mr. President,
We remain cognizant of and acutely sensitive to the events that have taken
place in the recent past. The Government is extremely sensitive to the
socio-economic hardships faced by our people. We are pleased to have
reached a staff level understanding with the IMF. We have put in place
measures to protect the vulnerable segments of society and will endeavor
to ensure that these economic reforms will have a minimum impact on
their lives. Our institutions and society have demonstrated remarkable
resilience in the face of very difficult circumstances.
We unconditionally recognize the fact that one has a fundamental right to
the freedom of expression, which we all treat as being sacrosanct.
However, it must also be appreciated that, this freedom must be within the
constitutional order, and must be exercised having regard to one’s
fundamental duty to express oneself within the confines of the law.
Mr. President,
I am pleased to inform this august assembly that Sri Lanka’s nationwide
strategy in containing the human health impact of COVID-19 has been
largely successful as a result of proactive and non-discriminatory measures
by the government, and the effective delivery capabilities of our strong
health care infrastructure. Our vaccination drive exceeded WHO targets.
However, as a developing country we were highly vulnerable to the
economic fallout of the pandemic. The virus has opened a window to the
future which we must exploit, highlighting the importance of multilateral
cooperation through global health networks.
Mr. President,
Permit me to briefly turn to the aspect of climate change. As a climate
vulnerable country, climate change has had the potential to adversely
impact Sri Lanka’s socio-economic progress as well as food security and
livelihoods. Sri Lanka has pledged to meet the targets of the Paris
Agreement and our updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC)
submitted to the UNFCCC last year with the aim of reducing emissions to
achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. We firmly believe that these
commitments should not adversely impact the green economic
development objectives. We also appreciate that meeting the NDC targets
and executing the corresponding energy transition towards renewable and
sustainable energy and energy efficiency measures will require significant
climate financing.

Mr. President,
You will appreciate that we cannot do this alone. We believe that in
tandem with our own efforts, the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse
gases must fulfill their commitments and assist developing nations in
adaptation and mitigation measures under a common but differentiated
framework. We need to work towards a just, sustainable, resilient and
inclusive recovery from the adverse impacts of climate change, and the
energy transition.
Turning to the ocean, Mr. President, you will appreciate that as an island
nation, we are acutely concerned about and sensitive to the impact of
pollution and climate change on oceans. With rapid pressure on land
resources, the world is turning towards the oceans for sustenance – not
only for food security but also as a source of raw materials for industries
and energy. We are committed to the sustainable use of the oceans and its
resources in consonance with SDG 14. At the UNGA, in May this year, we
were pleased to have led a small but significant Nature-based Solution to
mitigate the impact of climate change, that led to the UN declaring 1
March as World Seagrass Day. Seagrasses are an important carbon sink
and absorb significantly more carbon than tropical rain forests.

Mr. President,
There is a likelihood that the world will not reach the scheduled milestones
to achieve ‘Zero Hunger’ by 2030. It is predicted that food and nutrition
security will be at great risk. Sri Lanka is paying serious heed to these
warning signs. Sri Lanka supports sustainable transformation of agriculture
to a modernized sector and encourages enhanced food production to
ensure food security. Sri Lanka has initiated the national food security
programme with the dual objectives of ensuring that no citizen should
suffer for the want of food and no child should be a victim of malnutrition.
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 COVID19 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.

Mr. President,
Despite severe challenges, we will endeavor to maintain the significant
progress we have made towards achieving the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable
Development. Our efforts have placed us in a leading position in the AsiaPacific region for SDG data availability, thus enhancing Sri Lanka’s capacity
for evidence informed policy making for SDGs in future. We recognize that
investment in human capital is an indispensable essential for the future of
our country. It is no surprise, Mr. President that Sri Lanka is ranked in the
high Human Development category, occupying rank 73 out of 191
countries globally, and is the highest in the region.
Having said that, we are nonetheless concerned that current challenges
have disrupted progress. The UN Secretary-General has in a serious
warning made reference to “rescuing the Sustainable Development Goals”.
This warning is followed by an observation by the UNDP, that for the first
time in 32 years, the Human Development Index has declined globally for
two years consecutively.

Mr. President,
Let me say a word about global security. Geopolitical tensions among
nations have heightened creating insecurity and polarization among States.
Agreed frameworks for arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament
have become fragile. At the 10th Review Conference of the NPT concluded
recently, which remains the centerpiece of the global nuclear disarmament
and non-proliferation regime, we were regrettably unable to arrive once
again at a consensus outcome.
While we address contemporary challenges, we must not forget the
lingering issue of Palestine. While restating Sri Lanka’s consistent and
principled position that the Palestinian people have a legitimate and
inalienable right to the natural resources in their territory and to statehood,
we further recognize the legitimate security concerns of both the
Palestinian and Israeli people, and an urgent resolution of the matter on
the basis of the UN Resolution on the attainment of the two-state solution.

Mr. President,
The absence of a regulatory supervisory regime concerning the use of new
technologies in cyberspace and in Artificial Intelligence needs to be
addressed urgently. Their ability to cause large-scale disruption,
disinformation and undermine scientifically established findings is of real
concern; a danger we all face. Sri Lanka, which is implementing the
nation’s first Information and Cyber Security Strategy, has identified the
importance of establishing a partnership-based approach to protect cyber
space in order to confront multinational cyber threats.
Mr. President,
I must make a brief reference to the scourge of terrorism. Sri Lanka was a
victim of terrorism for several decades. Terrorists’ choice of targets,
methods of financing and radicalization as well as the use of new
technologies as weapons has been constantly evolving. Legislative
measures and law enforcement mechanisms must be put in place to
counter radical ideologies leading to violent extremism and to curb the
terrorists’ use and abuse of the internet and social media platforms. At the
same time it is necessary to develop the critical thinking capacity of youth,
strengthen community bonds, foster a sense of civic responsibility, and
build community resilience to mitigate the effects and influences of violent
extremist ideology leading to terrorism.

Mr. President,
As our contribution to maintaining international peace and security, Sri
Lanka looks forward to enhancing our participation in UN Peacekeeping
Operations with professional men and women to serve as UN
Peacekeepers. I take this opportunity to honor the thousands of men and
women who, for decades, have helped countries navigate the difficult path
from conflict to peace under the Blue Helmet. We have taken many
measures to ensure that Sri Lankan Peacekeepers with a wealth of
experience in counter-terrorism and counter insurgency operations, are
trained and equipped with theoretical and practical knowledge of all
necessary functions of peacekeeping, including the promotion and
protection of human rights.
Mr. President,
It is indeed a watershed moment for the international community: a
moment of great challenge and opportunity. The complex and
interconnected crises that we face cannot be resolved by nations acting on
their own. It is an opportunity to demonstrate global solidarity, diplomacy
and collective efforts, leveraging the ideas and talents of all of our people
and all segments of our society to find transformative solutions which leave
no one behind. Multilateralism, Mr. President, is a tool for diplomacy that
rises above such challenges. Conflicts, disasters and crises will not stop at
passport control. Multilateralism is not without its shortcomings, and
undoubtedly it provides a solid framework for resolving contemporary

Mr. President,
This, I would say, is the mission of this august Assembly, and perhaps the
singular reason for which it was established 77 years ago. And that
perhaps is the reason, why Sri Lanka and many others applied to be
members, to participate, to be visible, to be heard, to embellish this
organization with our own flavors, perspectives, history, and knowledge to
this fine amalgam and grow from the common work discussions and
disputes that we join issue with.
I might wind up by citing the observations of one of our late Prime
Ministers, who committed Sri Lanka to the way of a socialist democracy, to
non-alignment and to an independent foreign policy, based on friendship
with all countries, irrespective of differing ideological and social systems,
when he said ‘we have to build up a new society for ourselves; one as I
have said, which best suits the genius of our country. We should like to get
some ideas and principles from this side, and some from the other, until a
coherent form of society is made up that suits our people, in the context of
a changing world today. That is why we do not range ourselves on the side
of this power bloc or that.’

Mr. President,
Permit me to make the observation that, the 193 nations represented here
jointly share the responsibility to establish justice, to maintain peace and
ensure progress in a world that is in trouble as never before. We have a
Charter and a formidable body of international law inclusive of our supreme
law of the Constitution of the Republic and other local statutes. We are
acutely conscious of the fact that notwithstanding all these sophistications,
multipronged challenges remain. The Government of Sri Lanka is
committed to overcoming these challenges.
It is to that commitment that Sri Lanka pledges today, in the sincere hope
that we will exploit the crisis that is at hand, build back better, leaving no
one behind and rise to new horizons of freedom and progress.
I thank you.