Hon. Senior Minister D.E.W Gunesekara, Hon. Minister Dullas Alhapperuma, Mr. Subinay Nandy, Ms. Razina Bilgramil (Country Director, UNDP) and Mr. Alain Sibenaler (Representative, UNFPA)
Colombo, 24 October 2013: The United Nations (UN) in Sri Lanka marked the 68th UN day in the presence of Chief Guest, Honourable Senior Minister, D.E.W. Gunesekara, Guest of Honour, Honourable Minister of Youth Affairs and Skills Development Mr Dulles Alahapperuma, other Honourable Ministers, Senior Government Officials, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, National and International Partners, the media and students. The event was held at the National Youth Services Council in Maharagama.
In marking the 68th United Nations Day, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon highlighted the need to act collectively to address the most urgent development challenges facing us today.
This year saw the operationalization of the 2013-2017 United Nations Development Assistant Framework (UNDAF), which will guide UN’s work in the country over the next five years. The work of the UN, in the coming years, will see a gradual shift from providing humanitarian support to focusing on development assistance. With the overall goal of supporting Sri Lanka achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth with equitable access to quality social services, strengthened human capabilities and reconciliation for lasting peace, the new UNDAF also has a strong focus on young people. Given this focus, this year’s UN Day celebrations highlighted the theme, “UNiting for Youth: My Sri Lanka, My Future”.
Expressing his thoughts, Mr. Subinay Nandy, the UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka stated “the UN’s collaboration in Sri Lanka will shift from humanitarian to long term development support with a special focus in the areas of Governance, Social Inclusion and Human Rights. In order to achieve the development objectives of Sri Lanka, the UN will be working with young people and encouraging their participation in all UN initiatives.”
The event also saw the culmination of UN art competition, “My Sri Lanka, My Future”, which was held in the run-up to the UN Day this year. The winners of the art competition were recognized at an award ceremony which marked the event. The students also exchanged their views and aspirations for Sri Lanka’s future during the event.
Chief Guest at the event, Senior Minister, Honourable D.E.W. Gunasekara, noted the importance of remembering the ideals and the commitment of the founding fathers of the United Nations, adopt to current ground realties and work towards building a better world for us to live in peace.
The Guest of Honour of the event, Honourable Minister of Youth Affairs and Skills Development Mr Dullas Alahapperuma, noted the importance of the partnership between his Ministry and the UN. He said “the Ministry of Youth Affairs, as the foremost Ministry responsible for youth issues in Sri Lanka, commends UN’s decision to reach out to youth and address their issues through the new UNDAF.”
An exhibition which showcased UN’s work in the country under its four priority areas, equitable economic growth and sustainable livelihoods; disparity reduction, equitable and quality social services; governance, human rights, gender equality, social inclusion and protection; and environmental sustainability, climate change and disaster risk reduction was a highlight at the UN day celebrations.