The United Nations began its work in Sri Lanka in 1952. Three years later, on 14 December 1955, Sri Lanka was admitted as a Member State of the UN.
For more than sixty years, the UN, in partnership with the Government and people of Sri Lanka, has continuously worked to ensure that all Sri Lankan people enjoy better living conditions. Collectively and through its 23 specialised agencies, funds, programmes and offices across the country, the UN addresses the needs and creates opportunities, including for the poor, the most vulnerable and the young.
The UN has cultivated broad and wide ranging partnerships – with the Government, civil society, the broad NGO community, bilateral donors, and international financial institutions – to address a multitude of challenges, both in long term development, and during times of emergency.
Moving forward, the UN strives to support the Government of Sri Lanka to achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth, with equitable access to quality social services, strengthened human capabilities and reconciliation for long-lasting peace.
In 1960, Ceylon was elected as a member of the United Nations Security Council. The presidency of the Council being held by each of the members in turn for one month, Sir Claude Corea became the first ever President of the United Nations Security Council from Ceylon in May 1960.
In 1974, Sri Lanka's Hamilton Shirely Amerasinghe was appointed as the President of the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea. This conference resulted in the Law of the Sea Convention, an important document that defines the rights and responsibilities of nations in using the world's oceans.
Recognizing the crucial role Data plays in Sri Lanka’s journey towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Government of Sri Lanka and the United Nations, jointly organized ‘#SDGDataLK: Enhancing Data for a Sustainable Sri Lanka’- the First National Symposium on Data for the SDGs, which took place on 20 & 21 March 2018 in Colombo.
The National Mine Action Programme was launched in 2002 with the support of the international community to remove the dangers of anti-personnel mines to the newly resettled families in the North and East. The United Nations has since administered assistance to the Mine Action Programme.
In the aftermath of the Tsunami, the United Nations assisted the communities in achieving sustainable recovery through the reconstruction of homes, schools, roads, water and sanitation and other essential facilities. The aftermath of such disasters highlighted the urgent need for effective mechanisms to coordinate disaster response, including dissemination of information and organising relief. The Disaster Management Centre was set up and now houses the National Emergency Operations Centre and Early Warning systems.
Since the end of the conflict in the country in 2010, the United Nations has been working closely with communities and national partners to promote sustainable development and long lasting peace. Interventions have spanned the economic, social and environmental sectors; helping communities to rebuild their homes and essential infrastructure facilities; and supporting the justice sector with the translation and consolidation of core pieces of legislation.