Sri Lanka

Joined UNESCO: 14/11/1949

Head of State and/or Government

President: His Excellency Mr Maithripala Sirisena
Prime Minister: The Hon. Ranil Wickremasinghe

Permanent Delegation to UNESCO

H E Mr B.K. Athauda
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to France, Permanente Delegate (04/10/2017)

Permanent Delegation of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to UNESCO
Maison de l'UNESCO Bureaux M2.08/10 1, rue Miollis 75732 PARIS Cédex 15
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National Commission for UNESCO

Chairman: Hon Akila Viraj Kariyawasam*

Vice-Chairman: Mr Sunil Hettiaarachchi

Secretary-General: Ms Dhammika Wijayasinghe

Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO
Ministry of Education 5th Floor "Isurupaya" Battaramulla Sri Lanka
00 94 11 21 77 002 00 94 11 21 77 006

Web site

Read more National Commission for UNESCO

Representation in the Executive Board

The 1991 amendment modified Article V of the Constitution, regarding the status of members of the Board. From the 27th session of the General Conference (1993), the Executive Board consists of Member States rather than of persons (26 C/Resolution 19.3).
Title Name Years Sessions
MemberMr Frederick E. de Silva1968-197481-95
MemberDr Nissanka Parakrama Wijeyeratne1987-1989128-131
MemberMr Ananda W.P. Guruge1989-1991131-137

Participation in subsidiary organs

Organs elected by the General Conference

Executive Board
Member (Term expires : 2019)
Intergovernmental Council for the International Hydrological Programme
Member (Term expires : 41st General Conference)
Intergovernmental Council of the "Management of Social Transformations" Programme
Member (Term expires : 41st General Conference)

Other intergovernmental organs

Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission

Addresses delivered in the general policy debate by the Head of Delegation at the General Conference

37 session of the General Conference

His Excellency, Mr Karunaratne Hangawatte, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Sri Lanka to UNESCO

Speech delivered during the General Policy Debate of the 37th session of the General Conference - revised and corrected version of the verbatim records of plenary meetings

36 session of the General Conference

H.E. Mr Jagath BALASURlYA, Minister of National Heritage

Speech delivered during the General Policy Debate of the 36th session of the General Conference and posted as received

35 session of the General Conference

H.E. Mr Susil Premajayantha, Minister of Education

“Today, Sri Lanka is picking up the pieces left behind by a 30-year war against the ruthless terrorist organization, (…) the Tamil Tigers who were military defeated a few months ago, in order to build a better tomorrow for all its multi-ethnic communities.”
“Since the start of the twenty-first century, we are confronted with the “fierce urgency” of a crisis that links today and tomorrow. This crisis is climate change. (…) The world has less than a decade to change course.”
“Sustainable development simply cannot be achieved without a stable climate. The poverty crisis, the food crisis, the energy crisis, the economic crisis: we cannot find lasting solutions to any of these global problems without bold action to combat climate change and achieve greener low-carbon growth.”
“(…) In Sri Lanka a national policy framework has been launched for “Social Cohesion and Peace Education” which is soon to be integrated with “Education for Sustainable Development” and implemented under a National Sustainable Development Council, functioning under the Chairmanship of His Excellency the President, in which the Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO will play an important role.”
“When it comes to alleviating poverty, just as much as for peace and sustainable development and for job creation, there is no better investment than education.”
“Our delegation is fully supportive of the very timely creation of the “Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Education for Peace and Sustainable Development”, a UNESCO category 1 institute to be set up in India, and we look forward to working together to promote its ideals.”
“The developed countries must keep to their commitments towards contributing 0.7% of their GDP towards poverty eradication, so that developing countries could take quality education to the grass roots and to the unreached.(…)
“Long before the MDGs were articulated globally, Sri Lanka was well on track to reaching the related targets in several areas and much investment has been made over the years, to provide free education, free health, food subsidies and subsidized credit, all of which contributed to improving living standards. (…) Literacy for both men and women are above 90% and we are only a few steps short of achieving universal primary education.”
“My delegation also joins me in thanking the Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura for his hard work during his ten-year tenure and look forward to giving our unstinted support to the Director-General-elect.”

34 session of the General Conference

H.E. Hon. Susil Premajayantha, Minister of Education

Sri Lanka welcomes Montenegro and Singapore to the UNESCO family, which reflects its universal appeal.
Today global warming and climate change start to occupy a central place in the United Nations agenda. Sri Lanka believes that value must be placed on maintaining forest cover and mechanisms must be established to enable developing countries to engage in carbon trading. The thematic debate at the Executive Board sessions was indeed rather timely.
“We believe that education for sustainable development should occupy centre stage as an intersectoral thematic programme in all UNESCO’s activities.”
Sustainable development requires equitable solutions. It is up to developed nations to bear a greater burden and adjust to environmentally friendly systems. However, developing countries have the right to fulfil their economic growth with less restrains.
The concept of corporate social responsibility entered into the important domain of sustainable development, which is a huge step in the right direction.
“Another key stakeholder in promoting sustainable development is the media. Its role in increasing awareness and promoting good practices should be integrated into all our endeavours.”
Sri Lanka is one of the first developing countries to promote universal health and education, gender equality and social mobilisation. The country is now achieving or even surpassing many of the Millennium Development Goals.
Sri Lanka has been facing the challenge of combating terrorism for nearly three decades, particularly in the eastern part of Sri Lanka. Those areas were recently liberated from the terrorists and a major development programme was launched. Sri Lanka believes that education is one of the most powerful tools that can be utilized to promote peace and understanding amongst people. The international community should be an active partner in this process.
Sri Lanka has long standing commitments to G77 and South-South cooperation. The Technical Cooperation Programme was established in 2001: it offers technical assistance and skills training to developing countries in the South Asian and South East Asian regions. Sri Lanka has now decided to extend this programme to the Pacific island developing countries.

Celebration of anniversaries

100th anniversary of the birth of Ediriweera Sarachchandra, philosopher, writer and diplomat (1914-1996) (2014)

Ediriweera Sarachchandra (1914-1996) is an eminent literary figure from Sri Lanka, has several plays, poetry and literary works to his credit. He helped revive several rich traditional art forms of Sri Lanka and through his theatre work introduced his compatriots to the rich cultural and spiritual aspects of Sri Lankan culture. His works are internationally acclaimed and he has received several international awards.

100th anniversary of the birth of Anagarika Dharmapala (Sri Lanka) (1964)

Popular orator and leader who brought about a national resurgence in Sri Lanka.