As we meet here today in a Special Session on the Human Rights Situation in Sri Lanka, once again the Human Rights Council signals its readiness to contribute to promoting and protecting human rights in all parts of the world. This is right and is consistent with the mandate of the Council.
However, I believe no one in this hall is unaware of the long history of the needless conflict that has ravaged the nation of Sri Lanka for the past two and a half decades and more. In the course of this conflict, thousands of innocent lives have been wasted and millions of people suffered untold hardships. We commiserate with the civilian population, particularly the most vulnerable segments of the population, who borne the brunt of the war. Mercifully, so to speak, today as we meet, the guns have gone silent in Sri Lanka, hopefully forever. The dawn of peace which appears to be beginning is most welcome. It is hoped that, in the next days and months, the important tasks of rehabilitation, reconciliation and reconstruction will begin and pave the way for sustainable peace and development in the country. I could not agree more with the United Nations Secretary-General who, in his recent visit to Sri Lanka, stated that it is imperative now to find a lasting political solution to the situation in the country, while addressing the aspirations and grievances of all concerned.
The Human Rights Council, convening this session today, joins in sending a message of readiness and willingness to work with the Government and people of Sri Lanka to address the most urgent humanitarian and human rights challenges facing them. As the Human Rights Council, this should be our focus and objective. I wish, therefore, to call on all delegations present at this meeting to work together in an open and constructive manner in the conduct of debate, discussions and negotiations. As I have underscored on previous occasions, no useful purpose can be served if we do not invest our efforts on addressing the needs of the victims. And the way by which this is best achieved is through dialogue, conducted in an atmosphere of respect and dignity for all sides and opinions.