Yesterday the United Nations marked the International Human Solidarity Day, with the main objective being unity in diversity—a vital factor for all countries to make progress and specially significant for Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the 26-year ethnic war and the intensified effort being made now for reconciliation and lasting peace.
In a statement the UN says the day is also meant to remind governments to respect their commitments to international agreements, to raise public awareness of the importance of solidarity, to encourage dialogue on the ways to promote solidarity for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals including poverty alleviation and a day of action to encourage new initiatives for this vital task.
According to the UN the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 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.
According to the UN, 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.
Therefore, the UN General Assembly is convinced that the promotion of the culture of solidarity and the spirit of sharing is important for combating poverty, proclaimed December 20 as International Human Solidarity Day. Through initiatives such as the establishment of the World Solidarity Fund to eradicate poverty and the proclamation of International Human Solidarity Day, the concept of solidarity is promoted as crucial in the fight against poverty and in the involvement of all relevant stakeholders, the UN says.
In Sri Lanka after the dramatic victory of the yahapalanaya government one of the main pledges has been to work towards inter-racial and inter-religious solidarity through unity in diversity. President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, while giving credit to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa for giving dynamic leadership to the troops to win the war in May 2009, are saying he failed miserably to win the peace.
General Sarath Fonseka, the then Army Commander was the ground hero of the war but disputes arose with the then President and he decided to contest the 2010 presidential election as a candidate of the joint opposition. But President Rajapaksa defeated him decisively and this apparently led to some dictatorial trends. General Fonseka was dragged to the military court, stripped of his honours and imprisoned.
The then President Rajapaksa forced through the 18th Amendment which enabled him to go on not just for two terms but as long as he liked or lived. During this period the then Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake was also impeached.
With elections to 341 local councils scheduled to be held on February 10 the National Unity government needs to ensure that without playing party politics it needs to give priority to inter-racial and inter-religious solidarity.
Whoever wins the elections it would be the responsibility of all to build unity and peace from the local government level onward.