Posted on May 30th, 2013

Media Release-Permanent Delegation of Sri Lanka to UNESCO Paris

The Permanent Delegation of Sri Lanka to UNESCO coordinated Vesak commemorations at UNESCO in Paris under the theme of “Buddhism and Inter-Faith Dialogue: Reconciliation through Education”.

A series of events were held on 23rd and 24th May 2013 under the patronage of the President of the General Conference of UNESCO, Ambassador Katalin Bogyay and Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka, Hon. Chamal Rajapaksa. Also in attendance was the Hon. Malani Fonseka, Member of Parliament of Sri Lanka.

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 Newly appointed Ambassador/ Permanent Delegate-designate of Sri Lanka to UNESCO, Prof. Karunaratne Hangawatte delivering the welcome address at inaugural session of the main symposium stated that the events to commemorate Vesak were not only a timely realization, but also conveyed a special message whereby crucial factors were expressed and focused upon, on the most important day for followers of Buddhism. He added that in keeping with the ingrained teachings of Buddhism, and under the leadership President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka had rehabilitated, reformed and reintegrated those who had taken arms against Sri Lanka and its citizens. This was in itself, Buddhism in practice.

Speaking at the main symposium, which was attended by a large number of members of the Maha Sangha and other religious leaders and delegates from around the world, the Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka, Hon. Chamal Rajapaksa stressed the significance of the day and its importance to Buddhists the world over. He further stated that “Our fervent hope and wish this year is that the message of inter faith dialogue and the essence it brings to bear, is a bridge towards reconciliation and narrows the divide that exists owing to ignorance, intolerance and hatred.”

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Delivering a special message, the President of the General Conference of UNESCO, Ambassador Katalin Bogyay noted that “by celebrating the teachings of Buddha we are celebrating the incredible diversity of the faiths and religions of the world. We are promoting tolerance, understanding and mutual respect among all peoples and cultures.“

Issuing a special message to mark Vesak at UNESCO, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon commended Sri Lanka for its role in making the events possible at UNESCO and noted the importance of drawing “on spiritual ideals to strengthen our resolve to improve our world.“ 

Expressing his best wishes for the events being organized in Paris, President Mahinda Rajapaksa in a video message stated that “my country, which emerged from three decades of conflict, is today at peace. Meaningful and determined steps are being taken to strengthen this peace and ensure reconciliation, one to another, through education and dialogue.”  

The keynote address was delivered by Ven. Master Chin Kung, Head and Founder of Pureland College in Australia while the symposium also brought together leaders of Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam for a discourse of the “Contributions of religious teachings towards reconciliation”. 

A special session on meditation was conducted by the Ven. Parawahera Chandraratana Thero, Chief Priest of France and a Special Lecture titled “When hearts become corrupt and chaos spreads, what can we do to save humanity“ was delivered by Ven. Master Chin Kung, Head and Founder of Pureland College, Australia. 

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A special Vesak concert on 23rd May 2013 brought together artistes from the Sri Lankan, Chinese, India, Thai and Indonesian communities to spread the message of peace and cooperation. 

 In addition a series of panel discussions took place on 24th May 2013 with eminent personalities intervening on topics of relevance to UNESCO’s mandate in promoting a Culture of Peace as well as the over “”…”arching theme of interfaith dialogue and reconciliation.

 Permanent Delegation of Sri Lanka to UNESCO


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