Sri Lanka assumes leadership of the Colombo Process
By Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka in Geneva
Oct 28, 2013

The Chairmanship of the Colombo Process was transferred from the Government of Bangladesh to the Government of Sri Lanka during a meeting held at the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka in Geneva on 21 October 2013.

The Colombo Process is a Regional Consultative Process on the management of overseas employment and contractual labour for countries of origin in Asia, which was initiated at Ministerial Consultations for Asian Labour Sending Countries held in 2003 in Colombo. The group includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam, and has met in Manila (2004), Bali (2005) and Dhaka (2011) to review and monitor the implementation of previous recommendations and identify areas for future actions. The Geneva headquartered International Organization for Migration (IOM) serves as the secretariat for the Colombo Process.

Speaking on the occasion Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha said with 21% of its working population working overseas and 46% of them women Sri Lanka takes the issue of labour migration very seriously and will bring to bear Sri Lanka's experience on the Colombo Process. Noting that while the Colombo Process countries are in some instances competitors, Ambassador Aryasinha said Sri Lanka believed that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and that their collective voice will be stronger than any individual voices. He said building on the accomplishments of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka in consultation with the membership of the Colombo Process, will evolve a road map on action to be undertake in the course of their chairmanship where member countries can optimize their mutual benefit. He saw the sharing of best practices, a qualification recognition process, minimum wages as well as improvement of working conditions in countries of destination, and assistance to migrant workers in crisis situations as priority areas. He also emphasized the importance for the Colombo Process to engage with greater vigour and credibility with countries of labour destination through the Abu Dhabi Dialogue (ADD) and other similar processes, as well as to pursue the interests of Colombo Process countries in ensuring that due recognition is given to migration as one of the priority areas of the post-2015 development agenda.

Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Abdul Hannan, said he was pleased with what his government’s chairmanship had accomplished, and was happy to be handing over the chairmanship to Sri Lanka, the birthplace of the Colombo Process. He thanked Ambassadors of all Colombo Process countries in Geneva and the IOM in the region and HQs for their support during the Bangladeshi chairmanship, which included the hosting of the Ministerial Meeting and Senior Officials meeting in 2011, the endorsement of the operating modalities, a Research Study on Labour Migration in Colombo Process countries and the recent Colombo Process statement delivered at the UN High Level Dialogue (HLD) on migration.

Director General of the IOM Ambassador William Lacy Swing who thanked Bangladesh for its very able leadership of the Colombo Process, said he considered it fitting that the Colombo Process should, after ten years of existence, be returning to its birthplace. He reassured the incoming chair that IOM would remain engaged with the Colombo Process and would explore new ways of securing funding for the process, thereby enhancing the regularity with which it meets. The timing of the handing over was opportune as there is much to be done following the HLD and in view of the other on-going processes. He underlined the possible benefits of the Colombo Process engagement with other processes, with the global Regional Consultative Process (RCP) meetings being a prime opportunity for such interaction. He also suggested that the Colombo Process may also wish to consider how it might engage with other RCPs in their region, in addition to the ADD.

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