Thursday, 03 December 2020

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Sri Lanka

A beautiful island – its bloody past and potential future

map sri lanka wikiThe island of Sri Lanka, known for its stunning and diverse nature, but also for its ethnic violence, is now facing the challenge of overcoming its bloody past and focusing on development and stability.

“In the 1950s and 60s Sri Lanka was hailed as a model developing country, with functioning democracy, working institutions and good economic growth”, says Alan Keenan, Senior Analyst and Sri Lanka Project Director for the International Crisis Group (ICG).


Human Rights bodies to decide on full international inquiry

HRC meets on Sri Lanka 2009The Human Rights Council and the High Commissioner for Human Rights are considering whether to launch an international investigation into reported war crimes in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan Government, however, has expressed its dissatisfaction with outside interference, pending its own investigation.

On 12 September 2011, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent the report of his panel of experts who investigated alleged war crimes in the final stages of the civil war in Sri Lanka to the United Nations human rights chief and the Human Rights Council.


Living on a dollar a day in a “middle income nation”

aftermath of tsunami 2004Food security is becoming a growing concern in Sri Lanka´s war ravaged north where a majority of the inhabitants live on less than a dollar a day. At the same time only a quarter of a UN-Sri Lanka post-conflict reconstruction programme has been financed partly because the World Bank has classified Sri Lanka a middle income nation. Only 23% of the joint UN-Government of Sri Lanka-NGO reconstruction programme for the war ravaged northern provinces in Sri Lanka has been financed, says Subinay Nandy, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sri Lanka. This means the fund is facing a US$200 million shortfall. Paradoxically, the World Bank reclassified Sri Lanka in late 2010 as a middle-income country and some analysts blame this for the funding shortfall.


Why Sri Lanka matters

mortimerBy, Edward Mortimer,
First published in New World, UNA-UK

"More than 300,000 people became the victims of the reckless disregard for international norms by the warring parties. Indeed, the conduct of the war by them represented a grave assault on the entire regime of international law designed to protect individual dignity." In April 2011, a panel of experts convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon published this damning indictment of the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).


The forgotten returnees

Aftermath of Indian Ocean Tsunami in Sri Lanka 2004 2A day in a village on the beautiful coast of northern Sri Lanka: a lady combing the hair of a small girl crouching at her feet. She leans over and whispers something to her husband who is sitting beside her holding on to two other children.


Norway in Sri Lanka – The peace initiative that went out the window

President of Sri Lanka Addresses General Assembly  2011In 2000, the Sri Lankan government headed by President Kumaratunga and together with the Tamil Tigers (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) invited Norway to take the role of facilitator in the forthcoming peace process. A ceasefire between the Tigers and the Government was successfully established in 2002 and led the way for a Nordic civil observational delegation called the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission (SLMM) with 20 officers from Norway and 10 from Iceland. The goal of the mission was that all ethnic groups would agree to a peaceful political solution to the violent conflict that the country had suffered for decades. This agreement was renewed in 2006 by incoming President Rajapakse, but in 2008 the Sri Lankan government terminated the deal and the SLMM delegation left the country.



  • Sri Lanka is an island in the Indian Ocean, lying off the southern tip of India*

  • Population: 20.4 million (UN, 2010)*

  • Life expectancy at birth is 74.9 years **

  • There is a long-established (mainly Hindu) Tamil minority in the north and east, but the Buddhist Sinhalese community are the majority *

  • Major religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity

  • Major languages: Sinhala, Tamil, English*

  • The UN is in Sri Lanka by explicit agreement with the government***

  • Sri Lanka now leads South Asia in most developmental indicators** (It’s a medium ranked country in the UNDP 2011 Human Development Index) and has already made impressive progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals in key areas of human development such as education and health ***

  • However Sri Lanka’s impressive progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals continues to be undermined by the aftermath of 25 years of conflict.

  • The United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) is an agreement between the UN and the Government of Sri Lanka for development activities from 2008-2012 ***

  • In this challenging environment the UN Country Team is still committed to delivering on the outputs agreed with the Government of Sri Lanka through the UNDAF:

        1. Interventions to improve socio-economic opportunities and services for conflict-affected communities, particularly IDPs;

        2. Interventions to increase the participation of civil society and people in the peace process; and

        3. Interventions to improve the capacity of public institutions to promote peace, human rights, and national consensus. ***


edward mortimer3 Questions to Edward Mortimer on Sri Lanka.


Edward Mortimer - interview for UNRIC "In Focus" on Sri Lanka