EDITORIAL - Shared progress and prosperity

17 December 2015 06:30 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Sunday, December 20 is International Human Solidarity Day and this year’s celebration comes after world leaders adopted the sustainable development goals which are a new, inclusive development agenda -- succeeding the millennium development goals -- to eradicate poverty, protect the planet and ensure dignity for all.

According to the United Nations the new sustainable development goals agenda is centred on people and the planet, underpinned by human rights and supported by a global partnership determined to lift people out of poverty, hunger and disease. It will thus be built on a foundation of global cooperation and solidarity.

 In a message to mark the event, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says that by  adopting the historic 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, world leaders expressed their resolve to seek shared progress and prosperity based on a spirit of global solidarity. Solidarity is identified in the Millennium Declaration as one of the fundamental values of international relations in the 21st Century, wherein those who either suffer or benefit least deserve help from those who benefit most. Consequently, in the context of globalization and the challenge of growing inequality, strengthening of international solidarity is indispensable, the UN says. 

Therefore, the UN General Assembly, convinced that the promotion of the culture of solidarity and the spirit of sharing was important for combating poverty, proclaimed December 20 as International Human Solidarity Day. The concept of solidarity has defined the work of the UN since the birth of the Organization. The creation of the UN drew the peoples and nations of the world together to promote peace, human rights and social and economic development. 
Besides the new sustainable development goals, this year’s solidarity day comes in the afterglow of the historic December 12 agreement in Paris where leaders of 196 nations reached a landmark agreement to save Mother Nature from ‘ecoscide’. 

Therefore the priorities for the year ahead and thereafter will be major structural changes to bring about world poverty alleviation, effective steps to restrict global warming to two degrees Celsius or if possible 1.5 substantially curbing carbon dioxide emissions and to find renewable sources of energy. 

The National Unity Government led by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has committed itself to these goals in addition to good governance and the peaceful resolution of conflicts. This was seen during the ongoing debate on the 2016 Budget. The government made at least five major changes and Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said on Wednesday the Treasury would have to find about Rs.8,000 million to fund those changes. A general strike had been scheduled for last Tuesday but the Prime Minister held extensive discussions with trade union leaders and on Monday announced there would be four major changes in the budget proposals, the main one being the pensions issue. As a result most of the trade unions called off their strike. This is another example of the peaceful resolution of conflicts, though the Prime Minister has said the government’s commitment is to put the country first, the country second and the country third with no one being allowed to seek or obtain personal gain or glory. 

President Sirisena in a speech after a historic three-day visit to the Vatican and extensive talks with Pope Francis has appealed to opposition parties to rise beyond party political barriers and cooperate with the National Government in rebuilding a new Sri Lanka where there is social justice and where plurality or diversity are promoted and celebrated. The President, apparently referring to a UPFA group still supporting the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, expressed regret that they were going to astrologers to find out how long the new President would serve or how soon he would die. 

Whatever the anti-government critics may say, Pope Francis himself has honoured the President by saying that of the leaders he had met so far President Sirisena was one of the most simple, humble and sincere leaders. As we move towards the first anniversary of the silent people’s revolution of January 8, we all need to commit ourselves to the battle against corruption and crime while working towards the noble vision of good governance, social justice and democracy. 

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