Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana was in Oslo on 24 May 2019 to participate as a panellist at the international conference on ‘Ending Sexual and Gender based Violence in Humanitarian Crises’ (SGBV). He was invited to the conference by the Government of the Kingdom of Norway.
Speaking at the high level panel on ‘Setting the Standards for Prevention of and Response to SGBV: progress in addressing operational challenges’, chaired by UNFPA Executive Director Natalie Kanem, Minister Marapana focused on the preventive measures taken by Sri Lanka’s law enforcement authorities in collaboration with Civil Society and community leaders, to address the issue, especially in the camps for the Internally Displaced Persons in the North and East. He outlined the legal framework currently in place to combat the challenge and underlined the deep rooted socio-cultural constraints that often obstructed effective reporting of instances of such abuse and violence. Sri Lanka was one of the first Member States to sign the UN Secretary General’s Voluntary Compact to eliminate sexual exploitation and abuse in the UN, including in UN peacekeeping Missions. Sri Lanka had also contributed to the Secretary General’s Trust Fund for the victims of sexual exploitation and abuse in September 2017.
The conference was hosted by the Governments of Norway, Iraq, Somalia and the United Arab Emirates, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), with support from Norwegian Church Aid. Committed pledges by countries reached a total of over US$ 363 million for SGBV prevention and response in 2019 and beyond. The event brought together representatives from 100 countries, SGBV survivors and specialists and members of 167 national and 76 international civil society organizations, among many others.
Foreign Minister Marapana had bilateral meetings with the Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide and the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó on the sidelines of the Conference. The discussions focused on recent developments in Sri Lanka and matters of mutual interest at the bilateral and international level.
During the visit, the Minister had a useful interactive meeting with Sri Lankan faith based and community leaders in Oslo.
Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Norway Arusha Cooray, Director General Dhammika Semasinghe of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Second Secretary Samanmali Atalugama of the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Norway were associated with the visit and the bilateral discussions held.