Governor General of Canada voices for UN human rights office in Sri Lanka

[TamilNet, Friday, 24 October 2008, 21:08 GMT]
"We strongly support the presence of the Office of the UN Commissioner for Human rights in Sri Lanka with a full mandate to report on the human rights situation", said The Governor General of Canada, Michaëlle Jean on the occasion of the presentation of credentials by Daya Perera, the new High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Canada, on Wednesday. "It is important to ensure that civilians in conflict zones are protected, that they have access to humanitarian organizations, and that their human rights are respected", she said while conveying deep concern of her government "over the future of the Sri Lankan people".

The Governor General of Canada, Michaëlle Jean, born in Port au Prince, Haiti, immigrated to Canada in 1968 with her family fleeing the dictatorial regime of the time, was a highly regarded journalist and anchor of information programs at Radio-Canda and CBC Newsworld. She has won numerous honours for reports of journalistic investigation. Michaëlle Jean became Canada's 27th governor general in 2005.

The Governor General of Canada is the Head of State of that country, who is formally appointed by the British Monarch on the advice of the Prime Minister of Canada, who is Head of Government.

Mr. Daya Perera is a President's Counsel lawyer who earlier served as Sri Lanka's permanent representative to the UN in New York.

Full text of the official news release by the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General follows:

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean Speech on the Occasion of the Presentation of Credentials (Sri Lanka, Moldova, Andorra) Rideau Hall, Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to Rideau Hall, especially at this time of the year, when the vibrant colours of fall are on such brilliant display.

We have come together this afternoon in the spirit of sharing, dialogue, and reconciliation among peoples, and I am delighted to be here with you. Our perspective—long limited to our own village, region or country—has now expanded to global proportions. This openness calls for greater solidarity and more co‑operation and opportunities for partnership. The actual economic crisis calls for more solidarity than ever and shared perspectives on possible solutions.

Furthermore, through our membership in the Commonwealth, Canada and Sri Lanka have strong bilateral ties.

In fact, Canada is home to 200 000 Canadians of Sri Lankan descent who are helping to make our society more dynamic and prosperous.

Of course, our friendship with the Sri Lankan people extends far beyond the diplomatic arena. Following the tsunami that devastated the region in December 2004, Canadians reached out to your people, offering unprecedented levels of assistance to support the relief, recovery and reconstruction efforts.

High Commissioner Perera, we are deeply concerned over the future of the Sri Lankan people. We hope to be able to continue supporting your government in its efforts to find viable solutions to the ongoing conflict, solutions that will fulfill the aspirations of your fellow citizens, regardless of language, religion, or ethnicity.

Canada believes it is important to ensure that civilians in conflict zones are protected, that they have access to humanitarian organizations, and that their human rights are respected.

We strongly support the presence of the Office of the UN Commissioner for Human rights in Sri Lanka with a full mandate to report on the human rights situation.

It is my understanding, Excellency, that your government is preparing to offer Sri Lankans services in Sinhalese and Tamil.

Canada has a great deal of experience with bilingualism, and I can assure you that we would be more than happy to share that experience with you during your mandate here in Canada.

Each of our countries could benefit from the best practices of the other as your country begins to make these services available.

The French language took root in Canada and is one of our official languages, which is how we came to be a part of the extended family of La Francophonie, to which Moldova also belongs.

Canada is delighted to have hosted a delegation from the Republic of Moldova at the Sommet de la Francophonie, which was held in the City of Québec as part of the 400th anniversary celebrations and which just came to a close.

Ambassador Chirtoaca, Canada enjoys a solid bilateral relationship with the Republic of Moldova and hopes to strengthen its ties with your country, notably within the context of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

And like the OSCE, we hope for a peaceful solution to the conflict in Transnistria.

We are certain that multilateral efforts like those deployed by the OSCE are the best solution.

I believe that the time has come to rethink the world in terms of the values we share and stop focusing on the borders that separate us.

The collaboration between Canada and the Principality of Andorra is an example of that willingness to share.

Ambassador Font Rossell, we are so pleased that a delegation from the Principality of Andorra also took part in the Sommet de la Francophonie this past weekend.

We are delighted to be able to work with you as part of that organization and to know that we can count on your support in various international forums, including the United Nations.

Moreover, we are grateful for the Principality of Andorra's support for Canada's membership on the United Nations Human Rights Council, the nomination of Ambassador Philippe Kirsch to the International Criminal Court, and Vancouver's bid to host the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

For its part, Canada is pleased to have supported the Principality of Andorra's bid to become a member of La Francophonie and is proud to support its bid to join the World Trade Organization.

I have no doubt that each of you will inject new vigour into the trade, diplomatic, cultural and social relations that unite us. You can henceforth count on the friendship and support of Canadians to forge and facilitate what we hope will be lasting ties. And so I urge you to take the opportunity to meet with them. You will find that they are open and share your hopes for peace, freedom and prosperity.

And you will discover that Canada contains the world and that we Canadians treasure our diversity, for it brings us unlimited possibilities.

You will see that the rule of law, respect for human dignity, equality between men and women, freedom of speech and the responsibility to act, good governance, and sustainable development are all values that we are committed to promoting, here at home and around the world, and that they are part and parcel of what our citizenship means to us and the role we want to play in the world.

Continuing our dialogue, strengthening our ties and working together toward a common goal: this is what we should focus on throughout your mandate, strong in the friendship that binds us.

I believe profoundly in diplomacy at the human level, in friendship, dialogue, sharing and solidarity.

So let us work together on these premises, guided by the friendship, dialogue, sharing and spirit of solidarity that unite us.


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