United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon‑taek, left Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, on Wednesday, 31 August, for an official visit to Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Upon arrival, the Secretary-General had a working dinner with Ranil Wickremasinghe, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, during which they exchanged views on the status of development in areas of deepening democratic governance, delivering the transitional justice agenda and promoting economic development.
The following day, after meeting with the United Nations country team working in Sri Lanka, the Secretary-General participated in a youth event in Galle, in the south of the island, on reconciliation and coexistence. He said that to ensure sustainable social justice, especially in countries like Sri Lanka that are recovering from conflict, bottom-up peacebuilding approaches involving young people, women and all sectors of society are crucial. In Galle, he also met with religious and community leaders, and visited Galle Fort, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site. (See Press Release SG/SM/18018)
Back in Colombo in the evening, the Secretary-General met with President Maithripala Sirisena, pledging his continued support to Sri Lanka’s broad and impressive reform agenda, including to the reconciliation, transitional justice and peacebuilding processes.
On Friday, 2 September, he met with civil society and representatives of independent commissions, as well as with Karu Jayasuryia, Speaker of the Parliament, and leaders of political parties.
He then addressed an event on Sustainable Development Goal 16 on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, stressing that this Goal demands action against corruption and crime, and requires that institutions function in a transparent and efficient way, based on the rule of law. (See Press Release SG/SM/18020)
In the afternoon, the Secretary-General visited Jaffna, in the north of the island, where he met Reginal Cooray, Governor of the Northern Province; R. Sampanthan, Leader of the Opposition and of the Tamil National Alliance; and Justice C.V. Wigneswaran, Chief Minister of the Northern Province.
He then visited a resettlement area in Palai Veeman Kamam South Village, including an Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) shelter, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) latrines and well renovations, where he spoke with community representatives.
At a press encounter in Colombo concluding his three-day visit, the Secretary-General said that Sri Lanka was at a crossroads. He stressed that victims deserved to have their voices heard through credible, transparent and solid transitional justice mechanisms, and welcomed the Government’s effort on widespread consultations on this matter.
The Secretary-General left Sri Lanka overnight for Hangzhou, China, to attend the Group of Twenty (G20) Summit.