15072020Wed
Last update:Wed, 15 Jul 2020

HIGH-LEVEL OPEN DEBATE OF THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL ON “PEACE OPERATIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS”, 7th July 2020 - Written statement by the Sri Lanka delegation

mfaMr. President,

In an era where humanity is threatened with inter-state conflicts, intra-state frictions, asymmetrical threats posed by non-state actors, natural disasters, health related issues and a variety of other challenges, Sri Lanka appreciates Germany’s efforts to initiate discussion on the timely subject of “Peace Operations and Human Rights”. My delegation wishes Germany every success as President of the Security Council for the month of July and is confident that it will be a productive tenure.

Sri Lanka takes this opportunity to honor the thousands of men and women who for decades helped countries navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace by providing security and peacebuilding support under the Blue Helmet. Sri Lanka is proud to have a long association with United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, having served as a member of the 1956 Advisory Committee that led to the establishment of the first “classical” peacekeeping mission – UNEF 1, deployed during the Suez crisis and later deployed UN Peacekeepers to the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) in 1960.

With consistent effort, a wealth of experience and expertise gathered across diverse scenarios, the United Nations Peace Operations (UNPO) have become a vital- credible, dependable and versatile global instrument to ensure human security in conflict situations. The significance of the current Peace Operations are such that, considering the magnitudes of violence and their frequency of manifestation, it would be hard to visualize the destiny of human lives in some of the conflict zones in the absence of assistance by the United Nations.

Human Rights remain an important element for UNPO. Several PKOs such as MONUSCO, MINUSCA, MINUSMA, UNAMID, UNMISS have integrated human rights components, as well as Special Political Missions such as UNAMI, UNSMIL, UNSOM, UNAMA and BINUH, to identify a few. This is crucial across a wide spectrum of missions and strengthens the Missions’ credibility. Sri Lanka remains fully committed to UN Peacekeeping and upholding human rights, and in this context has taken a number of measures to ensure that all Sri Lankan Peacekeepers are suitably trained and fully equipped with theoretical knowledge and practical application of all necessary functions of peacekeeping, including the promotion and protection of human rights. Towards this end, a comprehensive package of education and training on relevant subjects are included in the pre-deployment training courses and continuity is maintained during the deployment by way of in-mission training, conducted in consultation with UN authorities. In addition, human rights has been included as part of the training of security forces and police in Sri Lanka. At the premier degree awarding tertiary institution established for military personnel, the Kotalawala Defence University, where many military cadets pursue degree programmes, human rights is taught as an important component of the academic programme. The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka and the ICRC also conduct a number of training programmes for the Military and the Police on human rights and international humanitarian law.

Mr. President,

It is observed that Peace Operations are becoming progressively complex in nature, with diverse socio-political challenges with increased impact on civilians as a result of direct and indirect actions of parties to conflicts. Sri Lanka has endorsed the Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians.

Violations of human rights in most conflict affected communities, disproportionately affect women and children. In situations of heightened violence and insecurity, as one of the most vulnerable segments of the population, they may experience such violations from within the family itself, in addition to existing discrimination in society. As such, it is vital to be sensitive to issues of gender in looking at human rights.

In a number of missions, women protection advisers are responsible for monitoring, analyzing and reporting on conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV). Whilst assuring Sri Lanka’s continuous commitment to enhance the participation of women in Peacekeeping operations, it is emphasized that focusing on education and capacity building of women should be considered a priority task to achieve meaningful gender parity as a long-term solution to this issue.

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the human rights situation, particularly in territories affected by conflict. Travel related restrictions and limitations enforced on human interactions have generated negative effects across the spectrum, ranging from difficulties in delivering humanitarian assistance to the provision of protection for vulnerable communities. Diversion of resources from funds allocated for UN field missions for humanitarian assistance to the pandemic mitigation effort would weaken capacities of peacekeeping missions in protecting civilians.

It is pertinent to mention that credibility of institutions that promote the adherence to and protection of human rights can be significantly undermined when they are unduly politicized. There have been instances where unproven allegations of human rights violations were used as instruments to unduly pressurize and manipulate contributions to peacekeeping by governments for undue political gains. Sri Lanka firmly believes that, the United Nations as the largest global body that is committed to ensure the rights of every human being, should always remain impartial whilst fully respecting the principle of sovereign equality in its all interactions with member states.

 

Mr. President,

 

The ever-changing dynamics of present armed conflicts and their rapid evolution makes the protection of human rights of vulnerable communities as a recurring task which is becoming increasingly challenging. In this context, the UN peacekeeping operations should remain a collective endeavor in ensuring the protection of vulnerable communities, and it is essential that there is engagement and interaction with various stakeholders, including civil society and the
wider population. This is also vital to build trust with local communities, where UN´Peacekeeping Missions operate. Protecting civilians and upholding human rights are vital for the success of a UNPKO and shapes how a population will remember the Peacekeepers and reflects the manner in which the United Nations will be evaluated.

Having engaged in a humanitarian struggle with a terrorist organization that used human shields, suicide bombers and child soldiers, Sri Lanka’s armed forces and Police have been sharing expertise in handling difficult and complex terrains of the humanitarian engagement field in difficult areas of the world. Whilst acknowledging and commending the effort by the UN Secretariat and the Department of Peace Operations on their dedicated effort in promoting the human rights of communities undergoing hardships in conflict affected territories, Sri Lanka reiterates its full commitment to this noble cause, to protect and promote human rights and the protection of civilians.

Thank you.

Find the original statement under the following LINK,


Discovery of Oldest Bow and Arrow Technology in Eurasia - New archaeological research demonstrates earliest projectile technology in the tropical rainforests of Sri Lanka

MPIThe origins of human innovation have traditionally been sought in the grasslands and coasts of Africa or the temperate environments of Europe. More extreme environments, such as the tropical rainforests of Asia, have been largely overlooked, despite their deep history of human occupation. A new study provides the earliest evidence for bow-and-arrow use, and perhaps the making of clothes, outside of Africa ~48-45,000 years ago –in the tropics of Sri Lanka.
The island of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, just south of the Indian subcontinent, is home to the earliest fossils of our species, Homo sapiens, in South Asia. It also preserves clear evidence for human occupation and the use of tropical rainforest environments outside of Africa from ~48,000 to 3,000 years ago – refuting the idea that these supposedly resource-poor environments acted as barriers for migrating Pleistocene humans. The question as to exactly how humans obtained rainforest resources – including fast-moving food sources like monkeys and squirrels – remains unresolved.

In this new study, published in Science Advances, an international team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (MPI-SHH) in Germany, Griffith University in Australia and the Department of Archaeology, Government of Sri Lanka, present evidence for the earliest use of bow-and-arrow technologies by humans anywhere outside of Africa. At ~48,000 years old, these tools are earlier than the first similar technology found in Europe. Clear evidence for use on the preserved bone arrowheads shows that they were likely used for hunting difficult-to-catch rainforest prey. Not only that, but the scientists show that other bone tools may have been used for making nets or clothing in tropical settings, dramatically altering traditional assumptions about how certain human innovations were linked with specific environmental requirements.

Hunting in the open and sheltering from the cold?

European cultural products in the form of cave art, amazingly detailed bone carvings, bone tool technologies, and tailored clothing have been frequently held up as the pinnacle of Late Pleistocene human cultural development. There, symbolic and technological innovations have been seen as key survival mechanisms equipping expanding populations to face cold northern climates. Meanwhile, discoveries of older bow-and-arrow technology and artistic or symbolic behaviors in open grassland or coastal settings in Africa have framed ‘savannah’ and marine environments, respectively, as key drivers behind early hunting and cultural experiments by Pleistocene humans in their evolutionary homeland.

As co-author of the new study, Patrick Roberts of the MPI-SHH argues that “this traditional focus has meant that other parts of Africa, Asia, Australasia, and the Americas have often been side-lined in discussions of the origins of material culture, such as novel projectile hunting methods or cultural innovations associated with our species.” Nevertheless, the last twenty years have highlighted how Pleistocene humans occupied and adapted to a variety of extreme environments as they migrated beyond Africa, including deserts, high-altitude settings and tropical rainforests such as those of Sri Lanka.

A tropical home

The new study saw scientists turn to the beautifully preserved material culture from the cave of Fa-Hien Lena, deep in the heart of Sri Lanka’s Wet Zone forests. As co-author Oshan Wedage, PhD at MPI-SHH, states, “Fa-Hien Lena has emerged as one of South Asia’s most important archaeological sites since the 1980s, preserving remains of our species, their tools, and their prey in a tropical context.” Some of the main finds from the site include remarkable single and doubled pointed bone tools that scientists had suspected were used in the exploitation of tropical resources. Direct proof had been lacking, however, in the absence of detailed high-powered microscopic analysis.

Michelle Langley of Griffith University, the lead author of the new study, is an expert in the study of microscopic traces of tool use and the creation of symbolic material culture in Pleistocene contexts. Applying cutting edge methods to the Fa-Hien Lena material confirmed the researchers’ hypothesis. As Langley states, “the fractures on the points indicate damage through high-powered impact – something usually seen in the use of bow-and-arrow hunting of animals. This evidence is earlier than similar findings in Southeast Asia 32,000 years ago and is currently the earliest clear evidence for bow-and-arrow use beyond the African continent.”

The evidence for early human innovation did not stop there. Applying the same microscopic approach to other bone tools, the team identified implements which seem to have been associated with freshwater fishing in nearby tropical streams, as well as the working of fiber to make nets or clothing. “We also found clear evidence for the production of colored beads from mineral ochre and the refined making of shell beads traded from the coast, at a similar age to other ‘social signaling’ materials found in Eurasia and Southeast Asia, roughly 45,000 years ago,” says Michelle Langley. Together, this reveals a complex, early human social network in the tropics of South Asia.

The new study highlights that archaeologists can no longer link specific technological, symbolic, or cultural developments in Pleistocene humans to a single region or environment. “The Sri Lankan evidence shows that the invention of bows-and-arrows, clothing, and symbolic signaling occurred multiple times and in multiple different places, including within the tropical rainforests of Asia,” says co-author Michael Petraglia of the MPI-SHH. In addition to insulation in cold environments, clothes may have also helped against tropical mosquitoes, “and instead of just hunting large grassland mammals,” adds zooarchaeologist Noel Amano, another MPI-SHH co-author, “bows and arrows helped humans procure small, tree-dwelling primates and rodents.”

While archaeologists have long focused on the uniqueness of European markers of behavioural modernity, the new study is part of a growing awareness that many regions of the world saw extraordinary and complex new technologies emerge at the end of the Palaeolithic. “Humans at this time show extraordinary resourcefulness and the ability to exploit a range of new environments,” notes Nicole Boivin, Director at the MPI-SHH and study coauthor. “These skills enabled them to colonize nearly all of the planet’s continents by about 10,000 years ago, setting us clearly on the path to being the global species we are today.”

Please find the original press release of the Max-Plack-Institut under https://www.shh.mpg.de/1725622/bow-and-arrrow-roberts

Extension of Visas for Foreigners in Sri Lanka

mfaHaving considered the spread of Covid-19 in the country, the validity period of all types of visa issued to all foreigners who are currently residing in Sri Lanka had been extended until 11th June 2020. Foreigners had been advised to pay the relevant visa fee and get the visas endorsed in the passport on or before 11th June 2020 after the submission of the application online.

However, the Department of Immigration and Emigration of Sri Lanka has observed that most of the foreigners currently staying in Sri Lanka are still unable to leave so far due to the closure of the airports in many countries- As the number is very high, many of them have been unable to secure an appointment via the above system before 11th June 2020.

Considering the aforementioned circumstances, the validity period of all types of visas issued to all the foreigners currently residing in Sri Lanka has been further extended for another period of 30 days with effect from 11th June 2020 until 11th July 2020 allowing them to regularize their visas accordingly.

Sri Lanka Tourism Operational Guidelines with Health Protocols - Version 1

SoSriLankaThe Embassy of Sri Lanka in Berlin is happy to present to you the Sri Lanka Tourism Operational Guidelines with Health Protocols - Version 1. The guidelines were drafted in consultation with the Ministry of Health, World Health Organization (WHO), and Tourism industry stakeholders and read as follows:

Sri Lanka Tourism ready to welcome tourists from 1st August 2020

Sri Lanka is readying to welcome travelers from across the world with safety guidelines and precautionary measures.

FAQ

Who can visit?

  • All nationalities are welcome and all types of travelers whether groups, families, individuals.

Which airports will operate?

  • Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA), Colombo Ratmalana Airport (RMA) and Mattala Rajapaksa Hambantota Airport (MRIA) will be operating for tourist arrivals from Aug 1 2020.

What are the visa procedures?

  • All travelers will require a valid visa; this will be issued for 30 days and extendable for up to 6 months after arrival. Online visa at http://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/
  • Further relaxation for long-stay guests is currently under consideration, enabling tourists to be granted five-year multiple entry visas with maximum 6 months stay.
  • Visa fee US$ 100

Information needed for visa application

  • Booking details at Certified Accomodation
  • Itinerary in Sri Lanka
  • Return Ticket
  • Proof of medical insurance

Where can I stay and is there a minimum duration?

  • A minimum 5-nights stay in Sri Lanka is required.
  • Independent professional audits will be done to certify accommodation providers who will be listed on the Sri Lanka Tourism website. Details of bookings made with Certified Accomodation providers are required for the visa application.

Pre-departure Covid-19-PCR testing

  • A negative PCR-test is required prior to boarding your flight and on arrival in Sri Lanka. The test shouln’t be older than 72 hours prior to boarding.

On arrival in Sri Lanka

  • The airport will have high intensity sanitation measures in place for all areas and staff.
  • There is no quarantine on arrival unless symptoms are detected.
  • A PCR-test would be done on arrival at the airport. No charge.
  • Currently it takes 24 hours to receive the test results. We are making changes to have results within 4-6 hours by August. In the event it is required to wait 24 hours for test results, you will be able to select a hotel for a one-night stay from Certified 4- or 5-star hotels in Colombo or Negombo until the test results are received.
  • A further test will be done 4-5 days after arrival by a mobile unit in coordination with your Certified Accomodation provider.
  • Travelers staying for more than 10 days will be required to take a third test during their stay. While this may be inconvenient, it is essential to safeguard everybody and provide peace of mind.
  • In case of a positive PCR-result, quarantine in a designated hotel or hospitalization will take place depending on the details of the case. Quarantine would usually be 14 or 21 days if symptoms are detected.

Moving around Sri Lanka

  • To ensure your safety, please arrange transportation prior to your arrival, with your Certified Accomodation provider or travel agent. Public transport should not be used.
  • All tourist sites will be open from 1st August onwards with safety protocols and measures in place to ensure the well-being of our travelers.
  • There will be no travel restrictions between districts for tourists.

What is Sri Lanka’s status with Covid-19?

Being and island, and thanks to the proactive measures taken, Sri Lanka has been able to manage the spread of the virus. No active community clusters have been detected in the last 30 days within the country.

Please find the original guidelines PAGE 1 and PAGE 2.

The Poson Poya Day Message

PrezSLIt has been the practice of the Buddhists in our country, since ancient times to remember, with utmost devotion, the arrival of Arahat Mahinda Thero in the lsland carrying the message of the Buddha, by observance of religious rituals. Such devoted remembrance is due to the fact that the arrival of Arahat Mahinda resulted in a significant transformation of religious, cultural, social and political civilization of Sri Lanka.

The first meeting between the Arahat and King Devanampiyatissa, that took place over two thousand years ago, is the most significant encounter in Sri Lankan history. With the advent of Arahat Mahinda, our social values, economy, literature and arts and crafts took a new turn. Henceforth, the Buddhists of Sri Lanka were inspired to build sky-scraping stupas, ocean like gigantic lakes, an agrarian culture that secured the granary of the nation and produce incredible artistic creations that amazed the world. Even more important, this socio-religious revolution gave birth to a society that accepts gain and loss, fame and defame, praise and blame and happiness and pain with equanimity; treats all living beings from plants to creatures big and small with utmost fairness; living a life of purity sans lust or unwarranted attachments and Iive in accordance with the eight-fold noble path.

The Dharma and the knowledge base passed on by Arahat Mairinda Thera guided us to rise as a proud and dignified nation. The teachings of the Gauthama Buddha trained us to be mindful of this world and the afterworld and thus be virtuous and civilized. The Poson Poya is etched in our hearts as the most significant day, because that was the day we received the Buddha Dhamma, the greatest ever gift we qot as a nation.

Strengthened by our past experiences and inspired by Dhamma, we strive for prosperity. It is my belief that justice for all prevails in a spiritually virtruous, disciplined and prosperous society. I must mention here that my Government plans for not only the present, but also for the future based on that solid foundation. Even whilst facing the prevailing pandemic, we did not deviate from our vision that is built on that civilized culture we inherited. A journey without this reality is not possible for us as Sri Lankans.

The greatest tribute we can pay to Arahat Mahinda would be to celebrate this season of Posun by viewing the life in a pragmatic manner in accordance with the Dhamma and depicting to the world the pristine glory of the teachings of the Buddha, based on compassion and nonviolence.

I wish you all a merituous Posun!

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, June 04, 2020

Find the complete message in English, Sinhala and Tamil.