Thursday, 05 January 2017

Under the auspices of Honourable Thalatha Atukorale, the Minister of Foreign Employment, Sri Lanka, and the Chair-in-Office of the Colombo Process (CP), the Colombo Process Ambassadors’ Meeting in Colombo was convened by the Ministry of Foreign Employment (MFE), Sri Lanka, on 5 January 2017.

 

The meeting was graced by the attendance of Excellencies from the Diplomatic Missions of the Colombo Process Member States (CPMS), Senior Officials of the Diplomatic Missions, and Senior Officials from the MFE and the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment.

Honourable Thalatha Atukorale, in her welcome remarks, stated that the CP’s collective efforts have brought about positive developments in protecting migrant workers in key countries of destination (CODs), such as the introduction of new laws and regulations and transparent recruitment mechanisms. She highlighted the need for the CP’s concerted efforts to achieve the migration-related targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of its work plans.

His Excellency Mr. Riaz Hamidullah, High Commissioner of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh to Sri Lanka, expressed appreciation for the CP Chair-in-Office for hosting the meeting and stressed the importance of relaying discussions from the CP to the deliberations on the Global Compact on Safe and Orderly Migration Process in New York.

During the meeting, the Distinguished Participants received a comprehensive update on the progress and achievements of the CP under the Sri Lanka’s Chairmanship over the last three years. The following achievements were highlighted with assistance from the CP Technical Support Unit:

  • Thematic level achievements, especially the activation of Thematic Area Working Groups and the development of an online repository in support of the five thematic priories of the CP;
  • Institutional level achievements, including the revisions to the CP Operating Modalities and the adoption of a self-funding mechanism;
  • At inter-regional and international level, the CP has enhanced its cooperation with CODs and other dialogue forums, notably the Abu Dhabi Dialogue (ADD). It is also gaining an important recognition for its role and contribution to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

As the way forward for the CP, the thematic actions envisaged for 2017 were shared, in particular with regard to further advancing the five thematic priorities. Concrete activities envisaged for the Consular Support for Migrant Workers were also shared as one of the new thematic areas of the CP.  

During the discussion, Mr. Janbaz Khan, Counselor, High Commission of Pakistan in Sri Lanka, concurred with the need for the CPMS to prepare for achieving the relevant targets of SDGs. Referring to the Consular Support for Migrant Workers, he highlighted the importance of tapping into the expertise within the region by explaining the web-based applications developed for the immigration and law enforcement in Punjab as an apt example of such expertise.   

Expectations were also voiced by the Distinguished Participants towards further avenues to strengthen cooperation with CODs as a result of Sri Lanka’s assuming the ADD Chairmanship.

Mr. G.S. Withanage, Secretary of MFE, concluded the meeting by affirming the possible avenues with CODs, and stressed the importance of continued commitment of the CP to create a better and decent work environment for all migrant workers.