May 11, 2016
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power met with former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, currently Chairperson of Sri Lanka’s Office of National Unity Reconciliation (ONUR), and Mano Tittawella, Secretary-General for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms, on May 11, 2016, at the Sri Lankan Mission to the United Nations in New York.
Ambassador Power reiterated U.S. support for Sri Lanka’s reconciliation efforts. She and Chairwoman Kumaratunga discussed the work and plans of the ONUR and the challenges and critical importance of bridging old divides and reconciling with the past. Ambassador Power described the moving experiences she has had in Sri Lanka meeting with the families of disappeared and missing people, and they discussed the work of the Office of Missing Persons, including its efforts to consult broadly across Sri Lankan civil society and minority communities.
They also discussed the importance of accountability. Ambassador Power emphasized the necessity of addressing human rights abuses and urged that transitional justice efforts move forward as soon as possible. She urged that any mechanism be accompanied by proactive outreach to keep the public informed and engaged. They spoke about the challenges ahead and timelines along which progress would be made.
Finally, they also discussed the Sri Lankan government’s ongoing efforts to counter corruption and overcome the economic challenges left behind by the previous government. They agreed on the urgent importance of delivering a “democracy dividend” to the Sri Lankan people and stressed the importance of U.S.-Sri Lankan bilateral efforts to support trade and economic growth.